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Throw Back Thursday: Glimpse Into The World Of Lost Los Angeles

Throw Back Thursday: Glimpse Into The World Of Lost Los Angeles

The Los Angeles cityscape as we know it could have been much more dynamic had a slew of visionary projects, dreamed up by legendary architects, actually progressed past the drawing board. On view at LA’s A+D Museum until September 29, a landmark exhibition titled Never Built: Los Angeles explores these architectural contenders and the what-ifs that they call to mind. Here, cocurators Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell take us on a mini tour of the would-be utopia.

Downey Mixed-Use Office Building, 2009

Big idea: An office building in Downey, designed by LA firm B+U for local financier Jesse Flores. Imagine this: A three-level structure enveloped by a network of silicon-dipped, nanogel-insulated fiberglass fabric panels resembling the flames of a fire. Two cents: “The city of Downey would have scored a big hit with this building,” says Goldin. “This innovative, illuminated landmark would have been a huge draw and proven that it is not only desirable, but also possible, for great architecture to crop up anywhere, even in small cities.”

Courtesy of B+U Architects

Pacific Ocean Park Redevelopment, 1969

Big idea: An offshore hotel and shoreline condo complex by Anthony Lumsden, chief of design at Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall (DMJM). Imagine this: A cylindrical glass tower rising 30 stories out of Santa Monica Bay. Two cents: “Though the building was not an oil rig, the comparison would have been inevitable,” says Goldin. “The image of the tower rising out of the water is quite powerful.”

LAX Original Master Plan, 1952

Big idea: The main terminal for Los Angeles International Airport by Pereira and Luckman (opening image). Imagine this: A central, circular terminal covered by a giant glass dome. Six “finger” passageways radiating from its periphery leading to boarding gates. Two cents:“Although it may have been a challenge to pull off, this bold design would have set a high standard,” says Lubell. “Such airports as JFK and Dulles International Airport executed much more daring designs in future years, leaving LA in the dust again.”

Courtesy of Eric Lloyd

Civic Center, 1925

Big idea: A monumental civic center plan for downtown LA by Lloyd Wright that included blocks of buildings flanked by terraced walkways progressing up Bunker Hill (above).Imagine this: Persian temple complex meets Art Deco styling. Two cents: “The project’s ambitious scale may have wiped out the fine-grain character of the area—but this happened anyway in Bunker Hill 30 years later,” says Lubell. “Still, this level of planning and design is something the city has rarely seen.”

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