INABA, with Darien Williams, has developed a hypothetical proposal for the migratory distribution of the Hollywood sign across Los Angeles, titled “HLYWD”. The project will be on display as part of SUPERFRONT LA‘s upcoming show, UNPLANNED: Research and Experiments at the Urban Scale.
The proposal will be on display until July 2. More images and architect’s description after the break.
The Hollywood sign has exceeded its purpose. As a marketing tool for real estate development, it has generated value incommensurate with its own material worth. As a tourist destination, it is more popular than most buildings in LA. In lieu of a singular skyline, the sign is a default backdrop for televised New Year’s countdowns and late night comedy shows. The Hollywood sign has assumed an iconic role in the city far beyond its original ambition. Its value is an unplanned surplus.
It is hard to pinpoint why some parts of LA are memorialized and others are not. (The same could be said of any city). But perhaps one hypothesis for the Hollywood sign’s enduring popularity is its adaptability. The sign’s lack of purpose makes it a ready vessel for new references and scales of broadcasting. The Hollywood sign is an open sign.
The Hollywood sign has not only exceeded its purpose, it has also exceeded its site. Aside from elevation, there are few aspects of the sign’s immediate environs upon which its effectiveness depends. With televised and other media exposure, the sign’s public visibility is not necessarily a factor of its physical visibility within the landscape. It could also be said that the site has exceeded the sign, in that the real estate value of the surrounding Hollywood Hills is independently viable and relies little on the permanent presence of the big white letters. If the Hollywood sign already functions without a site (and the site without it), why limit it to a fixed location? While its symbolic versatility has been well demonstrated to date, its physical adaptability remains an untapped opportunity.
Proposal: Let it roam? The sign’s simple structure and generic materiality lend it well to temporary erection on any number of sites throughout the city. Neighborhoods ‘borrow’ the sign or any subgroup of its letters for a determined period of time. Migration affords the sign a temporal dimension, which ensures its continued vitality as an unplanned landmark.