It's a Bird! It's a Crane! It's the Coachella Mascot

Coachella bird

Today marks the annual pilgrimage of 100,000 sun-seeking music fans to the Southern California desert for the three-day Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Sure Jay-Z's playing. So are Thom Yorke, MGMT, DEVO, and Gorillaz—but there are also giant art and architectural installations created by a who's who of Southern California architects. This year, Crimson Collective, an L.A.-based group of artists, architects, and designers constructed Ascension, a 45-foot tall crane with a 150-foot wingspan.

Coachella bird

An installation at Coachella has to perform two tasks to be effective: provide shade from the searing desert sun during the day, and light up to provide an unmissable meeting place at night. Strung from the crane's aluminum tubing is 80% mesh texilene sunshade material to protect weary festival-goers, but the sun will not shine in vain: On either side of the bird are solar energy collectors which will help to provide its ambient, colored lighting at night.

Coachella bird

Yesterday, the bird endured a test-flight, as it were, lighting up the empty polo grounds as it prepared for the thousands of visitors, many of whom will be camping outside the gates. The crane is actually mobile: The entire structure is made to be dismantled and shipped in a 40-foot shipping container. Look for more Coachella coverage this weekend—I'll be the one simultaneously dancing to LCD Soundsystem while I interview the architects.

Photos by Crimson Collective/Michelle Cassel

[Crimson Collective]

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  • Evonne Heyning

    We spent a lot of time under this last weekend, it was the only solar installation out there completely powered by clean energy! My husband Brent Heyning at Toyshoppe Systems did the LED lighting on this installation with his crew Kim Williams and Jason Willis, with 7 programmable shows designed to work with the acts on stage.

  • Alissa Walker

    Nice work, James. I did wonder how you were keeping it down in that wind!

  • James Bowden

    Hopper Engineering ( did the engineering for the crane. It was a fun job (not everyday you design a 150'-0" wingtip to wingtip bird)...

    Ironically the most difficult part of the design was keeping it from flying away.