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Never Built: Los Angeles
Posted by Alice Perez on Jul 30, 2013 - 12:01:16 PM

Stepping into the Architecture and Design Museum visitors will enter “Never Built: LA,” (July 28-Oct. 13) an exhibition by co-curators Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell, tell the untold stories of architects and city planners who took to their sketch pads, drawing the LA of tomorrow while they lived in the LA of yesterday.

Canyon News Reporter Alice Perez had the opportunity to visit the “Never Built: LA” exhibition and talk with co-curator Greg Goldin, about the story behind the story of past and present city plans that for one thing or another didn’t have sufficient funding, didn’t get the vote and just didn’t get to catch the eye of the public. The top reasons for these plans and projects never leaving the drawing boards, “Money, of course. And a civic sensibility that resists innovation. True today, true yesterday,” said Goldin

The two traveled back in time, unearthing LA’s past and present through the pages of master plans, buildings, follies and amusement, parks and plazas, and transit plan that never left the books within city and library archives. “We dug through virtually every library, archive, and architect's office we could. We took advantage of the holdings at the Huntington, USC Special Collections, UCLA Special Collections, UCSB architecture museum, the Getty, Los Angeles City Archives, neighborhood archives, various regional city planning agencies, from Culver City to Long Beach.  We also talked to historians and scholars, and architects, who gave us clues that led to documentary discoveries.  Each time we asked, we found more,” said Goldin.

Visiting museum after museum, talking with historians after historian was part of their process in researching these forgotten projects and city plans. “Like any project of this scope, it involved years of combing through holdings at all of the institutions mentioned in my last answer. For example, we went through the John Lautner papers at the Getty, and we met with an interviewed his former partners, to find projects that were unbuilt and, more importantly, to learn the stories behind those failures.  Likewise, at any archive or architect's office, we dug through as much of the historical record -- backed up by combing newspaper accounts -- to find out the story lurking behind the proposed design,” said Goldin.

Here are some projects that only hit the drawing boards:

1. LAX Master Plan

Pereira & Luckman 1952

“The centerpiece of the original Los Angeles International (LAX) was a centralized, circular terminal building housed under an enormous glass dome. The dome soared several stories above a grand concourse decked in palm and banana trees. Far above, a circular platform held a restaurant, an idea that would later morph into the LAX Theme Building. The idea was killed by the airlines, who wanted individual terminals, and by city engineers, who nixed the structure, saying it was unsound.”

2. Disneyland Burbank Walt Disney Company 1952

“Disney’s original theme park had rudimentary versions of Town Hall, Main Street, Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Adventureland. There was a lagoon, plied Mississippi Steamboat, a bird sanctuary, and a railroad, none of it ”˜intended as a commercial venture.’ Burbank’s city council rejected the proposal in 1952, and so, Anaheim became home to Disneyland.”

“Probably more than anything else, the quest to find the best unbuilt projects became a self-fulfilling motivation.  The more we searched, the more we uncovered, the more we wanted to find out what we might be missing.  So, what began as a narrow survey of unbuilt projects from the past decade or so expanded into a review of 100 years’ worth of never builts,” said Goldin.

Come and take a trip down memory lane picturing the architects and city planners of decades past unrolling the city maps with drawings of unfolding skyscrapers, an enormous glass domed airport, a grasshopper-like plaza in the sky, a riverbank park, and a family-friendly theme park are all part of the “Never Built: LA” at the Architecture + Design Museum 6032 Wilshire Blvd. Miracle Mile (July 28-October 13)Admission to the exhibition for general adults is $10, seniors and students is $5, A+D members and children under 12 are free."I hope the inspiration to assess the city's built environment in light of its unbuilt would yield some sense that we can do better,” said Goldin.





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