For Firestation 94 in the Baldwin Park area of Los Angeles 2011
Our work always tries to respond to a local need. Live Forever is designed to monitor fire danger levels in the vicinity of Fire Station 94 in Los Angeles. Because of changes to the fire warning system and its relative granularity with regard to differing wind conditions inside and outside the city the state financed fire warning system was found to be inaccurate within LA. But, we also wanted to create an image not just of the natural systems that make fires possible but also of those that in opposition thrive and live within the relatively arid region. On the nearby Baldwin Hills the Chalk Dudyla (sometimes called the Live Forever) is a unique and beautiful plant that clings to steep cliffs like a spikey flower. We have tried to capture this plant’s identity in the shape of our water jet cutting, in the patina that naturally seals and protects the sheet brass with a slowly aging organic pattern that was applied through a unique spin painting technique developed at our non-profit architectural research center Materials & Applications. With a budget of one hundred thousand dollars, our goal was to produce maximum coverage and impact on an exterior wall of the building and speak to the community about the role of the fire station in the community as a resource for prevention from harm. A networked system of origami-folded brass sconces clustered onto the facade of the fire station monitor ambient humidity and temperature, then convey the relative risk of fire each evening through an animated LED display that creates waves across the building, more importantly the lighting and the unique nature of the sculpture serves as a reminder of the life hidden and thriving within our industrial infrastructure, a latent ecosystem that survives outside our classical understanding of what is “living.” We envision this system eventually evolving for future applications to become a responsive architectural fabric that monitors air quality, provide habitat for native flora and fauna, and creates passive cooling for south and west-facing walls.