Never Built: Los Angeles Hopes to Inspire Design Ambition

Image courtesy of Never Built: Los AngelesWe at FORM are super excited about the A+D Museum’s upcoming Never Built: Los Angeles exhibit, which is in the middle of a series of fundraising events leading up to its spring 2013 opening. The most recent effort is a Kickstarter campaign running through February 14, 2013, which sets a fundraising goal of $40,000 for the implementation of the exhibit. Luckily for your eyeballs, the Kickstarter page also provides a video that offers the first glimpse of some of the truly ambitious and even outrageous proposals of yesteryear, assembled by the exhibit’s organizers, Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin. FORM spoke with Lubell recently, who explained that the intentions of the exhibit are deliberately political: “the idea is to change the culture—to be more open to ambition and vision.” Lubell continues, “it isn’t just about what could have been; it’s about what still could be.”

To research for the exhibit, Lubell tells us that he and Goldin visited every archive in the city, with the initial help of the Getty Research Institute. The Kickstarter video makes it clear that Lubell and Goldin have done their homework, with some truly breathtaking designs from throughout the 20th century. Even the most informed aficionados of Los Angeles design history will find surprises and inspiration (or caution, we imagine) in the near misses of the past. Lubell cites the “Parks, Playgrounds, and Beaches” plan from 1930 by Olmsted and Bartholomew and the “Subways and Elevated Rail” plan from 1925 by Kelker and Deleuw as the most sorely missed of the Never Built portfolio, but there is also plenty of futuristic and pedigreed design work that shows off the talent and ambition that Los Angeles has drawn to its environments through the years.

The research and design of the exhibit are already complete, so the Kickstarter campaign is designed to cover costs in implementation (i.e., building models, mounting and framing, producing graphics, and buying reproductions). The design of the exhibit will require a total reconfiguration of the A+D space, organizing the displays around a giant floor map of the city. The exhibit’s previous fundraiser gave supporters an opportunity to gather and socialize at the Sobieski House in South Pasadena, designed by Koning Eizenberg Architects.

Image courtesy of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Research Library and Archive 

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