It isn’t often thought that Los Angeles is a city that is not progressive. We are a very forward thinking people and place but, looking around us, the physical city doesn’t necessarily reflect that. There’s a tiny disconnect between the mind of the city and the body of the city. There are a lot of problems despite how great the city (and we) are. Much of the onus of a forward thinking place is set upon our structures: how does the city look? Does it retain the element of futuristic sophistication that the people have? Does Los Angeles have that? Not really. We have a lot of structures that are variations on strip malls and a few contemporary architectural standouts like the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Pacific Design Center and The Getty and that one gas station on Olympic and Robertson. These items are few and far between but special when encountered. What if our structures matched our minds? What if? A+D are asking that with a new show they are fundraising to mount: Never Built: Los Angeles, an examination of all of the physical possibilities that could have been Los Angeles–and still can be.
The show comes from curators Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin and surveys the drawings and models and media of structures that could have been in Los Angeles and could have made the city look like an entirely different place. It celebrates the now imaginary creations of Frank Gehry, Rudolph Schindler, Frank Lloyd Wright, and more who made contributions in the city but could have had so many more. These forward thinkers wanted to reimagine how our structures look and how we interact with the city by imagining expansive railways and monorails and airports and so many other things that would be helpful to us now but, for whatever reason, just never came to be.
Los Angeles has a history in design and, more famously, Los Angeles has a bigger history with design that never was or that could have been or that was made and then destroyed. “The fascinating stories and mesmerizing images surrounding these projects shed light on a reluctant city whose institutions and infrastructure have often undermined inventive, challenging urban schemes from some of the world’s greatest architects, engineers and planners,” the statement from the curators says on the Kickstarter page. The upcoming Spring A+D show is a reminder of these projects that lie at the heart of the city’s soul but were smothered and forgotten.
An A+D team unearthed these possibilities and stories over the past two years and are using that as the basis for the show. An accompanying book will be coming out with the show and we’re assuming this show will be a part of the architecturally themed new Pacific Standard Time series. To see this show, you’re going to have to help pitch in some cash to Kickstarter: you can donate funds here. You can also catch a great video and more never-was LA buildings in a promotional video below.