When Shake Shack began construction two years ago on its West Hollywood location, the nearby community had anxiety that the popular burger joint would cause all kinds of parking problems like Pinkberry had done before it. So they decided to do something neighborly, and rather than use standard green tarps for construction fencing, they built the Happy Wall.
Shake Shack explains in their press release announcing the installation:
C’mon, get happy! Construction sites are often dull and despairing—but who says it has to be that way? Shake Shack® commissioned Danish artist Thomas Dambo to turn the construction wall of its future first-ever California Shack into a place of self-expression and joy. The result? The Happy Wall.
The Happy Wall is an interactive and colorful analog pixel screen created specially for the West Hollywood community. This dynamic mural and ever-changing, non-tech installation consists of 1,664 hand-tooled wooden pixels crafted from repurposed materials.
Shake Shack’s Happy Wall also inspired the West Hollywood City Council to consider how construction projects can mitigate the visual blight they cause by requiring that construction fences include a public art component.
Right now, construction fences in West Hollywood don’t really conceal much, and are themselves a visual blight. Why not use these canvasses as blank spaces to install art and bring some beauty to the neighborhood, asked the council.
The City has done its own demonstration project at Santa Monica and Crescent Heights, with a “Kicks of Route 66” installation.
Adopting the proposed requirement is one of the Hot Topics on tonight’s Council Agenda, but the Chamber of Commerce has previously opposed the proposal, asking instead that construction projects be allowed to install advertising on construction fences.
At a cost of around $25,000 per City block, the cost of installing art on construction fences is a rounding error on major construction projects in the City, but the goodwill that they generate with the community is priceless.
(Happy Wall images via Shake Shack)