August 24, 2016



For the many millions of Los Angelenos, Wilshire Boulevard is the backbone of the city, a vital link from downtown Los Angeles to the city of Santa Monica. Of the countless iconic landmarks to line Wilshire Boulevard’s fifteen mile stretch, the unofficial proclaimed ‘gateway to Santa Monica’ has always been a most graceful, unobtrusive addition.

On June 25, 1989, the city of Santa Monica celebrated the inauguration of Tony DeLap’s stainless steel and plexiglass sculpture. Entitled ‘Big Wave’, a slim bar of steel arcs at Wilshire and Franklin, its center breaking into a sharp curve. A geometric wave, inspired by Russian Constructivism spans forty-two feet, hugging Wilshire’s wide corners in a lithe embrace. As one drives towards the ocean, ‘Big Wave’s’ restrained silhouette is a soft nod to the shores ahead, and the simplistic beauty of a single wave.

The $100,000 sculpture was funded by the City of Santa Monica, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as donations by private donors.  After years of wear and tear, in 2010, ‘Big Wave’ was restored and installed with fiberoptic LED lighting.  At dusk, the sculpture is traced in a soothing blue tone, which lasts until an hour after dawn. The sculpture has not only become a recognizable entryway into Santa Monica, but a quintessentially LA monument. LA has always been unique in its geography. To be close to both the mountains and the sea, ‘Big Wave’ is a reminder of the city’s unbelievable proximity to nature, reminding us all that the ‘gates to the sea’ are simply a sunny drive away.


– Zanny Jacobsen, A+D Intern

– Photo Credit:

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