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A New Survey Looks At Los Angeles As A Beacon Of Urban Planning (Wait, What?)

Los Angeles doesn’t tend to receive the same architectural reverence as, say, New York or Paris. But spend a little time there, and there’s plenty of historical mystique to be unpacked (just ask Moby, who started a blog on the topic). Said unpacking is exactly the goal of a new exhibit opening this spring at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940–1990 was organized by members of the Getty Research Institute’s department of Architecture and Contemporary Art, and includes photographs, architectural drawings and models, films, digital displays, and contemporary art, all laying bare how L.A. grew into the sprawling cultural center it is today.

The survey–the first of its kind, in terms of a comprehensive survey of L.A.’s modern cityscape–aims to examine the ways that Los Angeles fostered specific, innovation-driven architecture. The City of Angels may bring to mind urban sprawl and crippling traffic, but during the postwar years, the city was host to an unprecedented frenzy of urban planning. During this period, the city’s infamous freeway system was built in just four years; LAX became one of the most important airports of the jet age; and in 1952, construction finished at CBS’s Television City–the world’s first TV studio.


The exhibit reveals a city fizzing with a Jetsons-like vibrance. Even in sketched renderings dating back to the 1950s, you can catch glimpses of soaring, arching buildings buzzing with human potential. Some look like UFOs, and aren’t too much of a stretch from renderings of buildings planned for 21st-century megacities like Shanghai or Dubai.

Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940–1990 runs through July 21, 2013.

[h/t T Magazine]MR