Never Built: Los Angeles at A+D Architecture & Design Museum

Never Built: Los Angeles at A+D Architecture & Design Museum

By Jaime Gillin
Never Built: Los Angeles highlights radical projects that would have deeply changed Los Angeles—but for one reason or another never got off the ground.

Through engaging photos, drawings, and other collected ephemera, co-curator Sam Lubell, museum director Tibbie Dunbar, and designer Jenny Myers will explore what Los Angeles might have been, if only some of these pie in the sky ideas had made it past the drawing board. They'll share some of their favorite obscure discoveries, including Olmsted and Bartholomew’s groundbreaking 1930 "Plan for the Los Angeles Region," which would have increased the amount of green space in the notoriously park-poor city several times over; the Maguire Group’s exciting 1980 plan for Grand Avenue downtown; and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Doheny Ranch, which would have replaced the monotonous suburban housing model with a collection of unique buildings clustered in a landscape of dramatic terraces and ravines. As the trio will illuminate, many of these schemes—each promoting a denser, more connected, more vibrant city—are still relevant today.

 As the museum's website puts it: "By allowing viewers to see Los Angeles in a new light, Never Built: Los Angeles examines what it is about Los Angeles that attracts some of the world’s most creative architects, yet often causes grand architectural schemes to flounder. The exhibition sets the stage for a renewed interest in visionary projects for the future of Los Angeles, challenging the city to think big again."

Pereira and Luckman’s 1952 design for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) called for a glass-enclosed central terminal, with a world map etched on the central column. Their original plan died because the city's Building Department found it too radical, the cost of air-conditioning would have been exorbitant and the airlines wanted their own individual terminals. Image courtesy LAX Flight Path Learning Center.

In 1925, Frank Lloyd Wright proposed a Civic Center Plan design to reconceive the city's metropolitan core. Anais Nin, who visited Wright’s studio sometime in the late 1940s, looked at his plans and wrote in her diary: "I saw [his] plans for Los Angeles. It could have been the most beautiful city in the world… But architecture had been taken over by business-men, and Lloyd the artist was not allowed to carry out his incredibly rich, fecund concepts… If his plans had been carried out, the world would have been dazzled by them." Image courtesy Eric Lloyd Wright.

In 2001, OMA and Rem Koolhaas proposed a translucent roof that would put all of LACMA under a single lid. It never happened. Image courtesy OMA.


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