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RICSSummit of the Americas Toronto 2014
May 4-6, 2014
RICS Summit of the Americas 2014 is for any real estate professional looking to draw from timely, in-depth market knowledge that will be shared by local and international experts in the land, property and construction sectors. The summit will provide an excellent opportunity to connect with top professionals from around the world and engage in educational seminars and premier discussion forums. 

Sonoma Living: Home Tours
May 10, 2014
AIA San Francisco and AIA Redwood Empire are excited to announce Sonoma Living: Home Tours, a new home tours program for 2014. Sonoma Living will showcase a wide variety of architectural styles, neighborhoods, and residences—all from the architect's point of view. The program provides design enthusiasts and the general public with an inside look into the world of distinctive residences in Sonoma county. Tour participants have the opportunity to see some of the area's latest residential projects from the inside out, meet design teams, explore housing trends, and discover design solutions that inspire unique Sonoma living.


Design for Social Impact
May 25–August 3, 2014
Based on the idea that design is a way of looking at the world with an eye for changing it, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) presents Design for Social Impact, an original exhibition offering a look at how designers, engineers, students, professors, architects and social entrepreneurs use design to solve the problems of the 21st century. 

 

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Tuesday
Aug062013

Exhibitions: Worst-Laid Plans: Design Disasters That Were ‘Never Built’


A rendering of the proposed Causeway, off Santa Monica. It's one of the more regrettable, and fortunately unbuilt, design ideas that appear in Never Built Los Angeles, the new exhibition at the A+D Museum. Image courtesy A+D Museum.

By Jack Skelley

Never Built Los Angeles, the A+D Museum exhibit co-curated by Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin and designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects, is the talk of the town. The project (plus a staggeringly comprehensive book) spotlights significant places and plans imagined for the city that couldn’t get off the drawing board.

There are many sighs of regret for excellence that might have been; the “visionary works that had the greatest potential to reshape the city,” as the curators state. In his thoughtful review, Los Angeles Times architecture critic Chris Hawthorne terms the show a “revelatory… attempt to corral the city's most beautiful architectural ghosts.”

Implicit in this lament is the truth that Los Angeles has far too often been an architectural and planning disaster. If only, for example, the powers-that-be had embraced the Olmsted Brothers proposal to unite the city through extensive new parks, we wouldn’t be one of the most greenspace deprived cities in the world. (That plan is an exhibit highlight.) Or, if only they hadn’t dismantled the Red Car streetcar system and erected those community-carving freeways, our neighborhoods might thrive much more dynamically.

But the show is as much “thank goodness” as “if only…” It proves the city wisely aborted a rogues’ gallery of hideous monuments to greed, ego or now-discredited design trends. 

Its most jolting examples include Santa Monica Causeway—a late 1960s scheme to span a freeway across the bay using 120 million cubic yards of fill from the Santa Monica Mountains. The only suitable response to such a monstrosity should be, “Are you freaking kidding?” But at the zenith of freeway worship and promoted by the city of Santa Monica and L.A. Mayor Sam Yorty, it took a veto by Governor Pat Brown to kill the thing.

Other misbegotten plans are dangerously cloaked in architecture du jour. Lloyd Wright's 1925 Civic Center Plan appears to be a Fritz Lang Metropolis–style fortress with the defective vision of many successive “improvements” of Downtown L.A.: Purporting to renew the city, it risks smashing an authentic urban fabric with mega monoliths. This is the same mentality that in the 1960s bulldozed the priceless Victorian neighborhood atop Bunker Hill to impose a financial and entertainment district (The Music Center) that already existed downhill on Spring Street.

During my decade as an editor of L.A. Downtown News, I was privy to a parade of such plans, large and small. Today, some more worthy ones still cling to the drawing board. Others may be, mercifully, “Never Built.” 

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