Urban Air: SoCal’s First Living Bamboo Garden Billboard

Articles // Christy Krumm // 02/06/13
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The design for the first Urban Air living bamboo garden billboard.

Imagine this: You’re stuck in a sea of cars, inching along as you make your way home from work on one of the busiest freeways in Los Angeles. The weather’s warm, the skyline’s smoggy, and you’re searching for anything that can provide a bit of relief during this crazy commute. Besides the perfect playlist, Southern California drivers will soon be treated to another diversion: A bamboo garden billboard.

Artist, Stephen Glassman, has been creating bamboo installations around L.A. for the past twenty years. After the Rodney King Riots, the Malibu fires, and the Northridge earthquake, all of which happened during a three-year time period in the 1990s, Glassman was commissioned to design a public artwork that promoted unity and resiliency in such turbulent times. His latest project takes bamboo yet a step further-using its natural cooling properties to tackle the smoggy Southern California skyline.

With the help of team of engineers, architects, producers and technology experts Glassman will take an existing billboard and convert it into a living bamboo garden, complete with Wifi, water misters, and a group of censors that monitor air quality. He’s calling it Urban Air, and his hope is that it can be both a symbol and an instrument for a greener future.

Last month, Glassman successfully raised over $100,000 on the crowd fundraising website Kickstarter and got Summit Media to donate some billboards to the cause. “I don’t have a specific date yet,” Glassman says, “but within the first half of 2013 we should have the first one finished. It will likely be on the west side of Los Angeles.”

Turns out, loads of other cities think this is an awesome idea, too. “Many people have expressed interest in support of an Urban Air project in their cities. Seattle, New York, Boston, and San Francisco are some that come to mind right off the bat. We were also invited to London, St. Petersburg, and Athens.”


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