L.A. Architectural Dreams That Never Became Realities

The Never Built: Los Angeles exhibit at the A+D Museum features fanciful plans by world famous architects that didn't make it past the drawing board – for better or worse.
By: Lisa Johnson Mandell
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Photo By: Stephen Holl

Frank Lloyd Wright's L.A. Civic Center Plan

In words, drawings, models, videos and other media, Never Built: Los Angeles examines visionary works that had the potential to reshape Los Angeles, but for one reason or another, never became realities. Frank Lloyd Wright came up with this plan in 1925 for an L.A. Civic Center that would have replaced the monotonous, blocky layout we have today with a collection of unique buildings clustered in a landscape of dramatic terraces and ravines.

LAX Terminal

This 1952 plan by Pereira and Luckman for a terminal at Los Angeles International called for an expansive glass ceiling with a world map etched into a central column. It certainly would have been distinctive.

Santa Monica Offshore Freeway

This rendering shows an ill-fated, 1965 plan for a causeway in Santa Monica Bay. It was envisioned by John Drescher for the firm of Moffatt and Nichol. Sure, it would have lightened up the traffic load on PCH, but can you imagine what it would have done for the aesthetics and the ecological balance?

Santa Monica Bay Tower

If not a Causeway in the middle of Santa Monica Bay, how about this Carlos Diniz-designed tower, accessed from land by a bridge? The architect is also known for his work on the World Trade Center.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Sports Club

Back in 1947, Frank Lloyd Wright proposed this mushroom-like structure to be built high in the Hollywood Hills, as a home for the Huntington Hartford Sports Club. This was among his more fanciful drawings, intriguing if not structurally practical.

Tower of Civilization

This plan for a "Tower of Civilization," imagined by William H. Evans in 1939, was designed to rival the world's tallest and most impressive skyscrapers at the time.

Los Angeles Natural History Museum

As recently as 2002, Stephen Holl came up with a plan for this Los Angeles Natural History Museum Addition that would have wrapped the building in a new glass facade and added a tower with commanding city views.

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