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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]