Wim de Wit Editor
Christopher Alexander Editor
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, 2013, English
Nonfiction, Architecture
9.8 x 10.5 inches, hardcover, 320 pages
ISBN: 9781606061282
Suggested Retail Price: $59.95

From the Publisher. From 1940 to 1990, Los Angeles rapidly evolved into one of the most populous and influential industrial, economic, and creative capitals in the world and the region was transformed into a laboratory for cutting-edge architecture. This book examines these experiments and their impact on modern design, reframes the perceptions of Los Angeles's dynamic built environment, and amplifies the exploration of the city's vibrant architectural legacy.

The drawings, models, and images highlighted in the Overdrive exhibition and catalogue reveal the complex and often underappreciated facets of Los Angeles and illustrate how the metropolis became an internationally recognized destination with a unique design vocabulary, canonical landmarks, and a coveted lifestyle. This investigation builds upon the groundbreaking work of generations of historians, theorists, curators, critics, and activists who have researched and expounded upon the development of Los Angeles. In this volume, thought-provoking essays shed more light on the exhibitionÆs narratives, including Los Angeles’s physical landscape, the rise of modernism, the region’s influential residential architecture, its buildings for commerce and transportation, and architects' pioneering uses of bold forms, advanced materials, and new technologies.

Los Angeles's ability to facilitate change, experiment, recalibrate, and forge ahead is one of its greatest strengths. Future generations are destined to harness the region's enviable resources to create new layers of architectural innovations.

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Phil Patton

Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990 dovetails nicely with A New Sculpturalism. It offers a series of essays on “experiments” in architecture and urban design. The book is edited by Wim de Wit, head of the Department of Architecture and Contemporary Art at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, and Christopher James Alexander, assistant curator of architecture and design there, and accompanies an exhibition at the Getty Center that opened on April 9 and runs through July 21.

The theme is an apt fit for a region given to utopian dreams (if not otherworldly cults) where the movie back lot produces surreal juxtapositions like a mad scientist of urbanism. The lab theme also works well to unify chapters that are as disparate as Southern California’s many towns and neighborhoods. Essays on freeways and the barrio, surveys of the downtown arts center, and radical approaches from the Eames house to Case Study houses are boats of different size and shape, made to sail in the same fleet.

Both this book and A New Sculpturalism are free from the dominant tone of much past discussion of Southern California architecture, which was shaped by the finger-wagging, clucking criticism of visiting Easterners who complained how much people drive in Los Angeles and lamented the failure of the city’s neighborhoods to resemble Greenwich Village. The two might be profitably interposed with a watching of Thom Andersen’s 2003 film Los Angeles Plays Itself, in which the city’s pride in its architecture shines through an assemblage of feature film clips that also turn out to be an architectural tour and guidebook.

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