Billboard Housing Apr 16, 2009


Because people asked for it…


There are more images than these two, including process images, models and drawings but this is all I have at the moment to upload. The overall premise for the project was to reuse billboard structures to accept student housing modules. These modules would line the electric light rail in low-density cities like Charlotte, NC and other cities who realized that light rail trains are the answer for mass-transit.

In major cities with elevated trains, like Chicago and NYC, billboards line the tracks, offering prime advertising spaces. Most of the structures in dense cities are above existing structures. In cities of suburban America, there isn’t the infrastructural density, so most urban planners align public transit in dead zones.


These housing modules would line the low-density rail, adjacent to the new “university” and students would be able to lease-out advertisement spaces, while living there, subsidizing their housing costs.

It’s a far-fetched idea, but the notion was that the modules would then begin to infill within the urban fabric…

I completed this project in 2003. It also included a complex pattern language for the overall infill within an urban area. I’ll have to spend some time pulling everything else together. The renderings are really dated too…

  • Morgan Taylor

    Thanks for putting together an interesting post with some of your previous work. We could all stand to do this once in a while.

  • Edward Scoble

    that’s amazing, actually would be great to live there had it not been for the fact that it’s a long way up to carry your bike up!

    two word – Jean Prouve.

  • Spencer

    as a planner who spends a lot of times with architects, I think this is rad. and better than some of the stuff I’ve seen around school here lately…

  • Ks


  • Max Riordan

    Integrating advertising and architecture is risky business. It invites the inference that the architect does not have confidence in his or her design both aesthetically and of its place within the urban environment. The value of the project becomes the value of the advertising in front of it; something nobody wants or needs (except the advertisers of course). Why not attach your structure to a revenue stream that could have a positive impact on its environment? It’s disingenuous for designers to think of billboards as a fact of life.

    That said, I do like the way your design reclaims otherwise unused space. It’s just too bad you’d need to create new billboards to realize it.

  • prolly

    This is over 6 years old Max… I would probably do it a bit differently now. Thanks for the feedback though!

    The idea was to limit it to student housing. If the State won’t make school less expensive, little movements like this would help.

  • Max Riordan

    No doubt

  • ben

    Wicked, glad you posted it. Max, my question would be: Why do you have to have advertising on the billboard? perhaps some kooky rich person can just buy the assembly and work with it much like the model suggests. Whatever the case though, I really like this idea.

  • Nick

    Billboards (or at least in-your-face advertisments) ARE a fact of life. It’s only a question of what is being promoted in such a context, and by who (OBEY, anyone?). Let’s remember that the urban canvas is a commodity and that there are other parties than corporate advertisers who are interested in it. PSAs, murals & community bulletins are just a few of the alternatives. The billboard seems aesthetically & functionally integrated into the design as a sound/visual buffer to the train tracks. Reclaiming any space our urban environments, which seem to be controlled by some out-of-reach entity requires confidence and creativity.

    I think its a nice project…

  • jeff

    There was a competition that a thesis student did at my school when I was a freshman (so 4 years ago) in which their proposal was to use the infrastructure of over highway road signs as housing. Just noticing the similarity between this concept and that, your thesis had a similar level of similarity to theirs.

    just checking in as an architecture student who found your blog through the architecture and stayed for the bikes. Stay positive dude, and keep up the architecture posts it’s a nice combination with the bike love!