LAGI 2016: Santa Monica

LAGI 2016 was held in Southern California, with the City of Santa Monica as site partner. The competition winners will be announced in October 2016!

Now, more than ever, energy and water are intertwined. As California faces severe water shortages in the coming years, the amount of energy required for water production and transmission is sure to increase.

For this reason we expanded our definition of sustainable infrastructure artwork to include proposals in 2016 that produce drinking water—either in addition to, or in place of—clean electricity.

LAGI 2016 fits nicely into the context of the ongoing efforts being made in Santa Monica to increase efficiency of water consumption and to harvest water sustainably. The Santa Monica Pier is currently investigating ways to drastically reduce the use of potable water on site, like the use of recycled seawater for toilet flushing, to take one example.

The City of Santa Monica has demonstrated the ability of sustainable infrastructures to provide an aesthetic and educational amenity for the community through its Santa Monica Urban Runoff Recycling Facility (SMURFF), located just next to the Pier. Visitors to the facility can learn about stormwater runoff, water-borne particulates, filtration processes, and large-scale rainwater reuse at the facility, which treats an average of 500,000 gallons per day of urban runoff (and looks nice too).

Proposals to LAGI 2016 will serve to push the conversation even further and will provide new ideas for innovation. By elevating the vital urban systems that provide our energy and water to the level of public art, we can challenge those who would disapprove of these important infrastructures on aesthetic grounds, especially at sites that are cherished for their cultural value and identity (like the Santa Monica Pier Breakwater).

LAGI 2016 was an ideas competition to design a site-specific public artwork that, in addition to its conceptual beauty, has the ability to harness energy cleanly from nature and convert it into electricity and/or drinking water for the City.

The 2016 design site offered participating teams the opportunity to utilize wave and tidal energies as well as wind, solar, and other technologies.

The award ceremony, exhibition, and book launch will be in Los Angeles in early October at Greenbuild 2016 in partnership with USGBC LA Chapter. Community events will be held in collaboration with project partners and there will be a book (published by Prestel) that will document 50–60 selected submissions.


LAGI 2016 comes to Southern California at an important time. The sustainable infrastructure that is required to meet California’s development goals and growing population will have a profound influence on the landscape. The Paris Climate Accord from COP 21 has united the world around a goal of 1.5–2° C, which will require a massive investment in clean energy infrastructure.

LAGI 2016 is meant to provide a positive and proactive vision of how these new infrastructures can be enhancements to our most cherished places. LAGI 2016 is meant to provide a positive and proactive vision of how these new infrastructures can be enhancements to our most cherished places. Whether providing clean and renewable electricity to power our homes and automobiles, or providing the clean water so vital to our survival, public services are at their brightest when they can be a celebrated component of urban planning and development.

As California works to achieve its important renewable energy portfolio goal (raised to 50% by 2030 in the governor’s January 5, 2015 State of the State Address) large-scale exurban generation will be increasingly augmented by urban micro-generation. As the infrastructures that will cleanly power our future productivity become more prevalent in our commercial and residential centers, the issue of their aesthetic integration becomes more important.

Power plants, once unseen and forgotten, will become an integral part of our daily lives. Embracing this fact, the time is now to proactively address the influence of these new machines on the built environment, and imagine a future in which clean energy technologies have been intentionally designed into well-planned cities.

All competition questions can be addressed to