John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects
1461 E 4th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90033
213 253 4740
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c. JFAK, 2020
Cumulus suggests dynamic new possibilities for urban signage within the framework of The Sunset, a re-visioned, pedestrian-oriented retail and wellness development at Sunset Plaza. Cumulus takes the place of three existing static signage elements on The Sunset property that will be demolished, and is a sculptural steel structure holding two new static signs positioned for maximum visibility from cars traveling both east and west along Sunset Blvd. Cumulus establishes a striking silhouette in the skyline of West Hollywood and acts as a gateway connecting the contrasting physical landscapes of the City; ground with sky; and the immediacy of the pedestrian experience with the more distant, 35-mile-per-hour view. It is a technological garden in the sky.
Cumulus is placed atop The Sunset’s easternmost building. Approximately one-third of its overall surface area is planted; the remaining convex surfaces are painted to replicate nature. The two static signs are pressed into the richly three-dimensional volumes of the frame, and the concave indents that surround the signs are rendered white to offer up the highest possible contrast between billboards and frame, image and context.
Through both its form and its greenness, the frame advances the City of West Hollywood’s and The Sunset’s common mission to advance pedestrianism, connectivity, and human-centeredness – ingredients that make up a uniquely urban sustainability. As a “cloud”, it also refers to our ubiquitous information cloud. But while information technology has its pitfalls, Cumulus uses it to humanize our world by providing a whimsical spectacle to be marveled at, one that provokes wonder and perhaps even joy. Cumulus also enhances the often alienating automobile experience to be richer and more surprising.
Cumulus, in reframing the billboard atop The Sunset, defines a familiar terrain anew.