Hassle in the Hollywood Hills

Thursday 15 Apr 2010

Future of the Hollywood sign in the balance as developers clamour for surrounding land

28 year old Danish architect Christian Bay-Jorgensen has proposed an intriguing new project, suggesting that the infamous Hollywood sign be transformed into a hotel. Currently standing at an imposing 45 feet tall, Bay-Jorgensen’s plan intends to double the size of the iconic letters and include hotel amenities such as an observation deck, so that visitors to the structure can take in the spectacular views of the Los Angeles basin. The architect said: "I know people are scared…I know they are afraid this idea will turn it into Disneyland", but continued to argue that the transformation would preserve the site and bring in much needed capital to the location.

At this point, physical developments of the concept have been vehemently denied by officials and governing bodies put in place to protect the sign. Chris Baumgart, chairman of the Hollywood Sign Trust, said: "That three-dimensional hotel makes a good story, though it's not going to happen", before adding that he is regularly bombarded by people’s ideas to adapt or reinvent the classic symbol. Cara Rule, who sits on the board of directors for the Hollywood United Neighborhood Council, simply stated: “It’s not going to happen”. Created in 1923 by architect Thomas Fisk Goff, the sign has become one of the most recognizable pieces of architecture in the world, making endless appearances in popular culture after being initially designed for use as an advertising tool.

Whilst Bay-Jorgensen’s hotel design may be receiving mixed reviews, the more tangible danger is that the rugged area surrounding the sign will be swallowed up by real estate in the coming years, slowly engulfing the landmark. The Hollywood sign itself belongs to the city of Los Angeles, although the land to the back and left of it is held by private investors. It had been said that this land was to be sold to real estate developers for $22m, with the intent of constructing an array of mansions in the area, however recent developments suggest that the land may be sold back to the city. Activists have been given until the end of April to raise the final £970,000 needed to purchase the land and save it from residential development. Charitable division of the luxury jewellery retailer, The Tiffany & Co Foundation, have stated that they will match any further donations with up to £320,000.

Sian Disson
Editorial Assistant

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