Two years ago, the Land Art Generator Initiative and Burning Man Project partnered to hold a multi-disciplinary design challenge—LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch—to create the foundational infrastructure for that beautiful remote landscape. The LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch Design Brief invited interdisciplinary teams of artists, architects, landscape architects, engineers, and scientists to propose works of art in the landscape that, in addition to their beauty and the transformational experiences they provide, also function to generate infrastructural contributions under one or more of the following five systems: power, water, food, shelter, and the regeneration of waste streams.

LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch
The SEED team celebrates their second successful prototyping project at Fly Ranch along with a community of volunteers and other artist teams. The result is a protected food forest and community gathering space constructed entirely from material found on site. Photo by Melissa Cliver.

Ten teams were provided honoraria grants for the purpose of building a functional prototype on site. Beginning last year and continuing over the next few years, the teams will be demonstrating the feasibility of their proposals and adapting their artistic concepts based on their experiences of the site. As prototyping continues, the layout of this massive landscape for regenerative art is coming together through close coordination between the teams.

The Source, LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch
The Source team—Mateusz Góra and Agata Gryszkiewicz (Tamaga Studio)—used local earth sourced around Fly Ranch to test the rammed earth construction technique they will use to build their regenerative artwork at Fly Ranch. They achieved the structural performance and the color striations they were looking for.

During the last couple weeks of May, 2022, Fly Ranch hosted the latest LAGI prototyping camp in the beautifully unique landscape of Northern Nevada. The weather was great (much cooler than last July’s prototyping camp) and the skies were clear most days until the rains came quite dramatically on the final weekend. The wind and rain tested the strength of many of the tents but it also offered the beautiful rainbow you can see in the cover image.

Newly planted willow trees at Ripple.

Not all of the top ten teams were able to make it but the teams that were represented included SEED symbiotic coevolution, Ripple, The Source, Coyote Mountain, The Loop, Mountains of Water, Solar Mountain, and Made from Dust.

LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch
The site of The Loop at Fly Ranch as seen from the above.

In between soaking trips and nature walks organized by the incredibly knowledgeable Fly Ranch Guardians, the participating teams researched site conditions, practiced sustainable construction techniques, sited their artwork at full scale in the landscape, and shared knowledge and wisdom.

Cob bricks being formed at the site of the SEED project at Fly Ranch.

It was a delight to see the LAGI 2020 teams helping each other out, sharing information and lessons learned. Long-time residents of Gerlach offered guidance to those less familiar with the terrain and climate of Northern Nevada. Field trips off into the adjacent foothills of the Granite Range and the surrounding dry lake beds provided inspiration, natural beauty, and a connection to the deep history of the place.

Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe
the golden shovel breaks ground at the new Pyramid Lake Museum ethnobotanical garden.

The Ripple team spent a few days planting an ethnobotanical garden and installing an irrigation system at the invitation of and in collaboration with the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe at the Pyramid Lake Museum. If you happen to be driving up Rt 447 in Nevada, stop by and learn about nutritional and medicinal uses of the native plant species.

Lodgers: Serendipity in the Fly Ranch Wilderness by Zhicheng Xu and Mengqi Moon brings together composting toilets, reclaimed timber waste, traditional thatching methods using local materials, computational script-generated parametric design, and native species shelters to provide an environmental education venue, soil replenishment, sustainable waste management, and habitat enrichment for Fly Ranch.

The Lodgers team was not able to make it out to Nevada, but they recently put together an exhibition, “Architecture Isn’t Just for Humans Anymore,” at the MIT Wiesner Student Art Gallery highlighting their top-ranked LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch design proposal and demonstrating some full-scale prototypes of their construction methods.

LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch
The site of SEED as seen from above during excavation.

For more information about the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch artworks, see the website where you’ll find the history and aspirations of the project in text and video along with the design guidelines and the supplemental materials about the site that were provided to the design teams. You can jump right to the shortlisted proposals here.

Made from Dust, LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch
Luis Philippsen, the artist behind Made from Dust, a LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch shortlisted project, talks about how his wood ash bricks naturally absorb carbon from the atmosphere over their life cycle. Photo by Melissa Cliver.

You can also pick up a copy of “Land Art of the 21st Century” which goes into more detail about the importance of the LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch project in the context of climate change, the circular economy, and the future sustainability of Burning Man Project.

LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch
While experiencing the future site of The Loop installation, Mercedes Martinez, Burning Man Project Board Member, holds up an image of Solar Mountain, which will be located nearby.

Below are some more photographs from the week’s events and a few aerial videos that will give you a feel for the scale of the site. We’re looking forward to the next time we can get back to Fly Ranch learning from these incredible teams and get our hands dirty again helping to build these important works of regenerative land art for the 21st century!

Newly planted willow trees at Ripple.
LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch
A sunrise gathering at the Labyrinth by Crimson Rose and Will Roger.
LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch
LAGI Co-Director, Robert Ferry, tends to the pink flamingoes. While flamingoes are not a local bird species, their plastic lawn ornament cousins can often be found in Nevada gardens. These fellows seem to be waiting around for the fairy shrimp to come alive.
Ripple, LAGI 2020 Fly Ranch
The Ripple team celebrates the successful irrigation of the newly planted willows, a species endemic to Northern Nevada, that will provide wind protection for the project. Photo by Melissa Cliver.
The site of SEED as seen from above during excavation.

The site of SEED as seen from above during excavation.

Flying over the future site of Solar Mountain

This high elevation fly over shows the location of a few of the projects that have established their locations at this part of the site. Shortly after this part of the video, the wind picked up and crashed the drone! We found it though and it’s in good shape.

Flying over the site of The Loop