Outdoor advertising and Urban beautification


Historically, outdoor advertising has been critiqued as an intrusion of crass commercialism in
cities at the expense of civic beauty and order which embodies ‘the common good’. For
example, opposition to the initial growth of outdoor advertising in the United States one
hundred years ago was articulated by civic reformers who were concerned that it undermined
their efforts to improve the moral and civic character of the people through architecture and
civic design:
In the competition between civic and commercial demands for the public’s attention,
it appeared the latter might prevail. Here lay the crux of the billboard problem: it
destabilized architectural and landscape design’s power to properly form cities – and
citizens (Baker 2007: 1197). 

taken from Kurt Iveson branded cities, is this statement valid?

Oct 4, 14 2:00 pm

Imagine going to a park, sitting by the lake and seeing a giant "Drink Coke" or "Use Viagra" ad adjacent to the waters or in direct view that now covers the endless horizon. Architecture and design aside, do you feel this place is still for the common people if corporations can buy public space just like that?

Oct 4, 14 5:34 pm  · 
Charleston SC has strict restrictions. It's related to tourism. The city would actually lose money "today," if its historic beauty was sacrificed.

For other cities, I imagine its hard for planners to play the long game, and implement restrictions that might require lost revenue today. It's investing.

It would be sad if Charleston changed their laws. But I'm not so sure about everywhere. I was younger, but I remember laying next to an apartment building roof top pool in West Hollywood surrounded by hills and billboards and it was kind of beautiful.

In places where ads would make life worse I would hope (or vote) that city/state officials would see that, in the long run, this would mean less prosperity.
Oct 5, 14 2:08 am  · 
Another comment on Coca-Cola as a specific example. They are trying to brand themselves as sustainable, and hip with things like installations on recycling and pop-up stores built out of shipping containers. At some level of social/civic consciousness in the buyer, an improperly placed billboard would become counterproductive in increasing sales.

So a question might be, can the public develop a civic consciousness powerfull enough to bring down the billboards while living in a sea of them? Can citizens become formed enough to form proper cities without proper cities to form them?
Oct 5, 14 2:53 am  · 

@jdbz hmmm, the Right to birth a city...

Oct 5, 14 10:26 am  · 
Alien 8

Iveson's use of "properly" makes the statement subjective, so validity is irrelevant. Obviously, architects have lost some influence in the forming of cities, but to blame outdoor advertising as the responsible party is to target an effect and not the cause. The cause is a society's holding commerce as its highest value. It's not very efficient to construct a monument/building to propagate a message when you can erect a banner in a more visible location. Also, this value-placement makes it difficult to argue for spending on civic-benefit when there is no immediately visible impact on the income of the property owner.

"Surfaces formed by humans have always served to convey information. This information has portrayed the things that governed social life, determined transcendental and religious visions, conveyed objectives and reports: praise to God, hunting or rituals, battles, weddings, wealth and death - all long before writing was available, as an abstract form of communication."

Herzog, Thomas. Facade Construction Manual. Birkhauser: Basel; 2004.

Oct 5, 14 11:25 am  · 

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Aug 17, 19 11:05 am  · 

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