Never Built, an upcoming exhibition at L.A.'s Architecture and Design museum, will display projects from the past century that never saw completion. Here, a stunning dome for LAX.

The Kelker and DeLeuw subway plan would have added a robust underground public transport system to the city’s infrastructure.

A Frank Lloyd Wright sketch for Doheny Ranch.

A rendering of an entirely different kind of Happiest Place on Earth--Disney Sea.

The Robert Stacy Judd National Hall Project.

The Lloyd Wright Covic Center.

Pacific Mercado.

Anthony Lumsden Sunset Mountain.

John Lautner Alto Capistrano.

Harlan Georgescu Skylots.

Olmsted Plan for parks.

Santa Monica Offshore Freeway.

Co.Design

Kickstarting: An Exhibition Of The Unrealized History Of Los Angeles

Never Built will display plans for projects that would have significantly altered the infrastructure of the southern California city--but didn’t. Welcome to bizarro L.A.

In a beautiful love letter to Los Angeles a few years back, the always eloquent, ever-awesome Geoff Manaugh (a.k.a. BLDGBLOG) described the city thusly: “L.A. is the apocalypse: it’s you and a bunch of parking lots.” Manaugh sees freedom and liberation in the void, but to its detractors and the uninitiated, Los Angeles is a vapid town without a geographical or metaphorical soul, paved-over and palm tree-d, and tough to parse, even with the requisite car.

, an upcoming exhibition at the Architecture and Design Museum , aims to reveal a beating heart of the city through a history that goes far deeper than what meets the modern eye. Curators Sam Lubell, West Coast editor at the Architect’s Newspaper, and Greg Goldin, former architecture critic at Los Angeles Magazine, teamed up to curate the concept by A+D Director Tibbie Dunbar. What began as a survey of contemporary projects that weren’t ever actualized eventually expanded into a look at a century’s worth of incredible creative not-quites that present the question: What if?

“It was an amazing treasure hunt,” Lubell tells Co.Design of the epic two-year search for material that spanned existing architectural offices, braintrusts of architects, planners, and historians, and every major archive in the city, from USC to LMU to the Metro Transit. “Most of these projects have never been seen by the vast majority of Angelenos,” Lubell says. “It will be an entire new history.”

It’s not surprising that many of the earliest entries would have had the most significant opportunities to shape the infrastructure and character of the growing metropolis. A 1925 plan would have seen construction of over 140 miles of subway and 40 miles of elevated rail to the city that would have established a vastly different precedent for L.A.’s now-notoriously public-transport-parched urban sprawl. The 1930 Olmsted-Bartholomew Parks, Playgrounds, and Beaches plan would have added thousands of acres of inter-connected parks to complement the concrete. And, somewhat less dramatically, the Happiest Place on Earth almost made its Matterhorned home in Burbank, not Anaheim.

And while some of the discoveries would have had a largely positive effect, there were a handful that were serious near-misses, like new freeways criss-crossing through Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the canyons, and even an offshore route up the coast from Santa Monica to Malibu. “It would have completely destroyed the tranquility and character of the Santa Monica Bay,” Lubell says.

The technology used to picture architectural visions has also changed dramatically. “One of the biggest surprises was seeing how the architect’s hand plays such a significant role in conveying the power of their ideas,” Lubell adds. “Pen, ink, and watercolor are now something of a lost art, and seeing original drawings of the kind we’ve unearthed has opened my eyes to the real meaning of design.” Unrealized artifacts by everyone from John Lautner to Rudolph Schindler and Frank Lloyd Wright will shed light on this uniquely hands-on approach.

The show will be accompanied by a book (published by Metropolis/Artbook D.A.P) featuring in-depth examinations of around a hundred never-built projects, and Lubell and Goldin have turned to Kickstarter to fund the physical realization of the exhibition. “We really think this show can help change the culture of stagnation and less-than-inspired design that often characterizes major projects in the city,” Lubell says. “There’s so much incredible talent here, and it’s time for the city take advantage of it.”

Contribute to the Never Built Kickstarter campaign here.

(H/T @carrenjao)

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3 Comments

  • RLJackson

    My name is Robin Jackson Paterson daughter of an artist by the name of Robert L. Jackson.  I believe my father was the artist who created four of the renderings on display at the Getty Museum exhibition Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990. 
     
    The Union Bank Building, 1958, The Wilshire Triangle Center, 1953 and The Sinai Temple, 1959 and the LAX Theme Building, 1958.  I also believe he did the interior rendering of the LAX Theme Building featured in the exhibit Kickstarting: An Exhibition of The Unrealized History of Los Angeles.  Mr. Jackson passed away in 2002. 
    Mr. Jackson did numerous watercolor renderings of architectural projects for William Pereia, Welton Becket, Charles Luckman and Sidney Eisenshtat and others beginning in the early 1950’s.  Mr. Jackson never signed any of his renderings.   After viewing  the Getty exhibition and Kickstarting website, I am convinced that the four renderings were done by my father. 
     
    Sincerely,
    Robin Jackson Paterson
    1068 Bayview Drive

  • Robin Jackson Paterson


    My name is Robin Jackson Paterson daughter of an artist by the name of Robert L. Jackson.  I believe my father was the artist who
    created four of the renderings on display at the Getty Museum exhibition Overdrive:
    L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990. 

    The Union Bank Building, 1958, The Wilshire Triangle Center, 1953 and The Sinai Temple, 1959 and the LAX Theme Building, 1958.  I also believe he did the interior rendering of the LAX Theme Building featured in the exhibit Kickstarting: An Exhibition of The Unrealized History of Los Angeles.  Mr. Jackson passed away in 2002.

    Mr. Jackson did numerous watercolor renderings of architectural projects
    for William Pereia, Welton Becket, Charles Luckman and Sidney Eisenshtat and
    others beginning in the early 1950’s.  Mr. Jackson never signed any of his
    renderings.   After viewing  the Getty exhibition and Kickstarting website, I am convinced
    that the four renderings were done by my father. 

    Sincerely,
    Robin Jackson Paterson
    1068 Bayview Drive
    Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
    (310) 379-7055
    robandjpat@verizon.net

     

  • RBSTweet

    We printed a proposal book for a Balboa Park (San Diego) 2015 reboot. The artist renderings and ideas were pretty amazing considering what they have planned. Budget or general interest-wise I just don't think they're going to come to fruition – great art in that book, though…