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Fanciful power plants envisioned off the Santa Monica Pier

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Competition turns energy sources into public art

If we told you a power plant was being built off the coast of Santa Monica, mere yards from the Santa Monica Pier, you'd think Santa Monica leaders had lost their minds. But what if that power plant was also designed as a public art piece?

That’s the goal of the 2016 Land Art Generator Initiative, says the Santa Monica Lookout. The competition not only puts a focus on creating new forms of sustainable energy, it also challenges designers to add some artistry to the normally drab and foreboding appearance of power plants.

On its website, the art generator initiative says it aims to, "imagine a future in which clean energy technologies have been intentionally designed into well-planned cities." By creating a more visually dynamic version of sustainable energy sources, it says it can, "challenge those who would disapprove of these important infrastructures on aesthetic grounds."

This year’s test model was the coast of Santa Monica. Entrants were tasked with creating site-specific works of public art that also harnessed solar, wind, or wave energy to either create electricity or clean drinking water.

The results are quite stunning, and, maybe some day in the future, could lead to a very different horizon over the Pacific Ocean.

Imagine the sight of a giant orb sitting atop an arch protruding from the surface of the water, almost as if the ocean had gotten its belly button pierced. The designers of this Light Drop installation (pictured above) intend that orb to act as a desalinization plant, producing 3.5 billion liters of drinking water each year using solar and tidal energy.

Santa Monica City Councilman Kevin McKeown, state senator Ben Allen; who reps Santa Monica; and the city’s cultural affairs manager, Jessica Cusick, are among the 20 jurors who will decide a winner. They will no doubt be keeping a close eye on what could be the future of their ocean view.