Sam Lubell
Greg Goldin
Foreword by Thom Mayne
Metropolis Books, New York, 2013, English
Nonfiction, Architecture
8.8 x 11.9 inches, hardcover, 375 pages
ISBN: 9781935202967
Suggested Retail Price: $55.00

From D.A.P. Never Built Los Angeles explores the “what if” Los Angeles, investigating the values and untapped potential of a city still in search of itself. A treasure trove of buildings, master plans, parks, follies and mass-transit proposals that only saw the drawing board, the book asks: why is Los Angeles a mecca for great architects, yet so lacking in urban innovation? Featured are more than 100 visionary works that could have transformed both the physical reality and the collective perception of the metropolis, from Olmsted Brothers and Bartholomew’s groundbreaking 1930 Plan for the Los Angeles Region, which would have increased the amount of green space in the notoriously park-poor city fivefold; to John Lautner’s Alto Capistrano, a series of spaceship-like apartments hovering above a mixed-use development; to Jean Nouvel’s 2008 Green Blade, a condominium tower clad entirely in cascading plants. Through text and more than 400 color and black-and-white illustrations drawn from archives around the U.S., authors Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin explore the visceral (and sometimes misleading) power of architectural ideas conveyed through sketches, renderings, blueprints, models and the now waning art of hand drawing. Many of these schemes--promoting a denser, more vibrant city--are still relevant today and could inspire future designs. Never Built Los Angeles will set the stage for a renewed interest in visionary projects in this, one of the world’s great cities.

Also see “Building on Never Built.”

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Alissa Walker

Los Angeles's civic center might have been a Lloyd Wright masterpiece of terraced gardens. There should be a lush housing development by Richard Neutra where Dodger Stadium stands today. LAX could have been encased under a massive glass dome. These otherworldly proposals for L.A. were unearthed during three years of intensive research by architecture writers Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell, who turned their findings into an exhibition, app, and this book of over 100 projects that might have changed L.A. for the better. (Of course not all the dashed ideas were good: a freeway was supposed to connect Santa Monica to Malibu—directly through the Santa Monica Bay.)

Armed with hundreds of models, sketches, and drawings, Goldin and Lubell worked with the designers at Volume, Inc. to capture the “on the boards” nature of the projects without succumbing to the bleary-eyed nostalgia of most retro-fabulous compendiums. While the book makes the case that L.A. is “always the exception,” it also admits that there’s something exceptional in the way we built up, tear down, dream big, and fail disastrously. We probably always will. In that way, Never Built Los Angeles is about a city that never was, but it’s also about the kind of city L.A. still wants to be.

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