Imagine floating, globally connected urban forests growing where billboards stand. Artist Stephen Glassman and his team are doing it.
WHAT IS URBAN AIR? - UrbanAir transforms existing urban billboards to living, suspended bamboo gardens. Embedded with intelligent technology, UrbanAir becomes a global node - an open space in the urban skyline… An artwork, symbol, and instrument for a green future.
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Urban Air has been designed, engineered, and has secured the billboard to carry the flagship project. With your help, Urban Air will be towering above the Los Angeles freeways in the new year.
The vision doesn’t stop there. Upon a successful launch, it’s our plan and intention to transform the steel and wood of outdoor advertising into the infrastructure of urban sustainability in cities around the globe – actively, publicly, and collectively generating a green global future.
This first one is the Kickstarter!
A taste of Nels in performance
What has been done so far
Urban Air was born as an artwork in the LA studio of artist Stephen Glassman. The image immediately sparked the interest of key vanguard professionals in related fields – engineering, technology, advertising, planning and business – and the Urban Air development team was born.
Urban Air garnered its first international recognition when it received the 2011 London International Creativity Award. Summit Media – a Los Angeles based billboard company - then volunteered to lend their support and donate prominent billboards along major LA thoroughfares to provide the launch pad for the first Urban Air prototype.
Since then we’ve been working intensely with structural and environmental engineers, planners, technologists, billboard fabricators, bamboo growers, plumbers and outdoor advertising specialists to design and produce a full scale working prototype that assures not only a successful single prototype, but also generates a system “kit” that enables any standard billboard to be easily transformed to a green, linked, urban forest.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Working creatively on a large scale in the public realm is always a challenge. Lead Artist Stephen Glassman has a long history and substantial portfolio creating and producing high concept, large scale, structural artworks in the public domain. He understands navigating this frontier.
Billboards are a unique territory. We are fortunate to have the support and partnership of Summit Media. Through Summit, we have been working closely with licensed billboard fabricators and engineers that are specifically equipped to engineer, permit, and install custom billboards. Their expertise will be augmented by structural engineer Bruce Danziger of Arup – a premier global engineering firm that has engineered break through architectural landmarks around the world – from the Beijing Olympic Stadium to Seattle's Public Library. Stephen has collaborated with Buce and Arup on a half dozen prior projects.
The environmental sensors and intelligent technology is also a cutting edge territory, and for this Arup’s participation is again invaluable. Russell Fortmeyer is Arup’s senior sustainability and technology consultant. The technology we will be incorporating is all existing – it is only the context that is unique. Russell and Arup have many colleagues in this field that are excited to contribute. UrbanAir producer Steve Reiss and advisor Deborah Marton have long histories in environmental charitable development, and have worked with several technology companies who are excited to participate.
Like any authentic and vital artwork, the greatest risk and challenge UrbanAir faces is to create something that has never before existed – to embrace the unknown and create something from nothing. The key to UrbanAir’s success is its remarkable team – years of experience and proven expertise in cutting edge, civic scale projects. They are vanguard professionals inspired by bold challenges, and committed to creating a better world.
*For those of you that may have questions about the cost, the biggest single expense is the structural retrofitting of the billboard to take the extra load of the plants. That process, coupled with the cost of installation, comes to nearly 50% of the total budget. Kickstarter and Amazon take a combined 8% for administrative costs and commissions; 20% goes to the production of the gift premiums, and 5% to the costs of the campaign. The remaining 15% is for the bamboo, misters, and technology.