Documenting the Never-Built Dreams of the City of Angels

Documenting the Never-Built Dreams of the City of Angels




Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin are creating an exhibition of Los Angeles’ buildings that were never built.

It’s hard to build a building. Every project must be ushered through a gauntlet of approvals, zoning codes, committees, clients, and criticism, to say nothing of the laws of finance and physics. As much as some architects might dream of the purity of will that allows Howard Roark to dynamite his tower when it’s not as envisioned, the real world is full of buildings that must find their place in the public sphere, in a compromise between the visions and needs of architects, financiers, planning committees and nearby residents.

In the end, only one structure can occupy any given space. So history is littered with the detritus of never realized plans for revolutionary structures. Finding the right balance of power between all these forces is probably impossible. Sometimes those non-constructions didn’t happen for good reason. Sometimes it’s a real loss.

In association with the A+D Museum, Lubell and Goldin are proposing an exhibit celebrating LA’s history of buildings that might have been.

These projects seem impossible today. At certain points in the city’s history they seemed utterly doable.

Wired: How did the project come about?

Greg Goldin: It all began nearly two years ago when the Getty Research Institute asked the Architecture and Design Museum of Los Angeles if they’d be interested in displaying models the Getty owned of unbuilt projects. That soon morphed into an examination of projects from the 1990s through the early ’00s — not necessarily in the Getty’s possession. And that, in turn, morphed into a thoroughgoing look at projects spanning the decades going back all the way to 1900, because the more you look the more you find. The more you find, the better — and more potentially game-changing — the ideas and past proposals seem, which only leads you to do some more looking. In the end, we spoke to a slew of experts and historians and then we combed every major archive in the city to find the best unbuilt projects.

Wired: What is it with Los Angeles and mega scale architecture?

Goldin: Los Angeles had room to grow, with few geographical limitations, except the Pacific Ocean. All that open space engendered a spirit of wide imagination, and the two fed off each other. Los Angeles has also always been a place to jettison the past and begin anew, and from the beginning the city developed a reputation for embracing originality and reinvention. The happenstance of early aviation and aerospace and the creative, sometimes over-the-top spirit of Hollywood, only further fueled the imagination. Everything seemed possible.

Wired: How close did the projects you chose come to reality?

Sam Lubell: It’s a mix, but we tried to focus on projects that had a good shot at becoming reality. These kinds of schemes reveal not just the creative ambition in the city, but the constant hurdles that stopped them in their tracks. Of course we do have a few truly pie in the sky projects, which capture the imagination and underscore that every city needs to have impossible dreams.

Wired: Why do cities need impossible dreams?

Lubell: Architects and planners and even developers propose speculative work because it prods everyone, from common citizens to elected officials, to think about the city in new ways. A perfect recent example is Thom Mayne’s proposal for the Cornfields, just north of Chinatown and downtown. He would move Dodgers Stadium off the hill in Elysian Park and put it in the flats — at the southern most tip of the Cornfields park. He would replace the stadium with high-rise luxury condos. This is smart land-use and transit planning.

Los Angeles needs to be a city of dreams.

Another example would be Schindler’s prefab shelters from the early 1930s. These were an attempt to see how small, modular homes could be inexpensively and quickly constructed to address their terrible housing needs of the Great Depression. The project was speculative not just because it proposed prefab or modular but because the homes were engineered as a kit of parts — and builders were then (and now) reluctant to adopt such a formula.

But both of these speculations, at opposite ends of the building spectrum, push ideas forward. Schindler playing with prefab and interlocking plywood units has led to the inventiveness of Frank Gehry’s early work. Mayne’s radical reordering of downtown will force the city to think more about its future land-use policies — perhaps to the better.

Furthermore many of these projects seem impossible today, but at certain points in the city’s history they seemed utterly doable. Our culture has changed, and there is less of a spirit that anything is possible in Los Angeles. It’s a sentiment that the city has always to some extent held and it needs to embrace it. Los Angeles needs to be a city of dreams in order to thrive and to embody its most effective attribute.

Wired: Some people say that while LA was made possible by mega-projects it is now crippled by them and by a powerful NIMBY lobby. Does this assessment seem right to you?

Lubell: Certainly some of the over-reach from past mega projects — from Bunker Hill to Chavez Ravine to the Freeways — has certainly helped create a culture of NIMBYism in which residents are terrified by the prospect of any new development, no matter how innovative or benevolent. One of our goals with the show is to open Angelenos’ minds to bold projects that will also improve the city. It’s not true that all large scale work has to be a thorn in the city’s side.

It is also true to a large extent that the city is mired in ancient zoning laws, dating to the time when the city’s core was surrounded by light industrial uses and the suburbs were developed around freeways. So, in many ways, the city is trapped by its vestigial infrastructure and its outmoded infrastructure (freeways).

On the other hand, there is a growing awareness that this cannot withstand the pressure of change. The effort to green the L.A. River, to restore some of its concrete bed to an actual river; the idea of freeway caps to use the air rights of freeways for parks; the spread of residential adaptive re-use throughout the east side of downtown (the old light industrial sector); all indicate a shift in frame of mind.

These kinds of changes are slow, to say the least, and not everyone agrees with them. As NIMBYism, it is confined to very specific projects, and not to sweeping visions. The city electorate has voted for massive bond issues for transit, for libraries, for new schools. On a wider level, then, the city seems willing to shed its “infrastructural” past to make a new one.

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Board Meeting Videos

I’ll be adding the DS5 presentation videos here as I encode them, it’s a long process but I’m getting there:


aaron from DS5 on Vimeo.

dave 1 from DS5 on Vimeo.

nigel from DS5 on Vimeo.


Future Office Labs (London, England) – Meetup

I know that this group is pretty dead, but maybe we could take over/add to the discussion and maybe generate some interest in our event?


The idea of Future Office Labs is to encourage a collective exploration and discussion of new technologies and practices in the work-place.

It’s a group for early-adopters, change-makers, entrepreneurs and organizational revolutionaries; people who are excited by cutting-edge ideas, fascinated by shiny toys (go on, admit it), but frustrated when they don’t get to use them in their day-jobs.

You don’t need to be a technologist to join F.O.L.; you might be a power-user or a practitioner who can see the potential of doing things differently. In fact, one of the reasons I’m creating this group is to have a space to exchange ideas, for those who are NOT technologists, but who do have interesting thoughts about how it can be used.

via Future Office Labs (London, England) – Meetup.

BBC News – Viewpoint: A note from your future office in 2032

But in 2032 the “workplace”, or more specifically the local array of immersive spaces we now consider optimised for work, is as valuable as ever – even though many thought it might become a relic of the past.

People used to be willing to pick up and move their entire lives to be nearer to that building and have access to a small physical address within it, in which they were assumed to do all of their work.

But after mobile technologies gave rise to “work anywhere” norms and strategies, which often created great disruptions in employee work-life balance, employees and employers began to mutually embrace the notion that there should be easily-accessible spaces where work is optimised – to both enable work and to promote the enjoyment of it.

Thus, a new generation of workplace was created, allowing workers to immerse themselves in local spaces offering a wide array of highly cocooned or interactive settings to support their needs.

via BBC News – Viewpoint: A note from your future office in 2032.


The question I would ask is why wouldn’t your speculative office include robots? – today’s technology is as remarkable as science fiction

Something to listen to while you work

Start the Week; Art and Design with Antony Gormley, Ron Arad, Christopher Frayling and Sarah Teasley, chaired by Andrew Marr.

something particular in this conversation for each of you….

and this for Toby Shark

Lecture: 21st and 28th Nov 2012 – Main Hall

For the next two weeks it is my pleasure to introduce Charlotte Bovis from Amanda Levete Architects to talk to you about Rhino and Grasshopper. Charlotte graduated from Oxford Brookes and went on to study at the RCA. She has worked for Future Systems and is currently working with AL_A :

The format will be a lecture on Wednesday 21st / 28th at 11am in the Main Hall, then Charlotte will be available in the design studios for a limited time for questions.

Tuesday Board Meeting Info

Schedule Tuesday 20th November:


CHANGE OF VENUE – Third Floor space 3 – (library end with link bridge – working screen provided)


10:30am                                               Board meeting: Leader Ronnie Maclellan CEO.


11:00am                                               Client presentations: 5 minute presentation of current work + 15 minutes discussion. You will be video recorded.


Presenting:                                         Aaron, Hilda, Nigel, Ross, David

Internal Review Panel:                  Tom Gr, Kate, Tom P, Kartic, TS + RM
Audience/notes:                              Antonio, Clare, molly, Peter




Presenting:                                         Tom Gr, Kate, Tom P, Kartic

Internal Review Panel:                  Antonio, Clare, molly, Peter, TS + RM

Audience/notes:                              Aaron, Hilda, Nigel, Ross, David




Presenting:                                         Antonio, Clare, molly, Peter

Internal Review Panel:                  Aaron, Hilda, Nigel, Ross, David

Audience/notes:                              Tom Gr, Kate, Tom P, Kartic


This is your chance to get feedback about your ideas and work from your work colleagues – please use this opportunity to your fellow office workers expand their ideas through critical feedback. If your advice is not constructive and critical, the company will fail and you’ll all be out of a job. It is in your best interests to contribute. You will be video recorded and your performance assessed by the CEO and Director.

STEPHEN MELVILLE LECTURE TOMORROW (thursday 9am 3rd floor student hub)

Guys – we think you should attend tomorrow’s free lecture at 9am in the student hub – Stephen Melville is a structural engineer on the cutting edge of design. Please attend!

Interesting site

Tutorials Tomorrow

11:00 – Kartik introduction to prototyping

11:30 Kate, Kartik and Seb

12:30 Ross, Tom and Antonio

13:30 Lunch

14:00 Clare, Nigel and Josh

15:00 James, Molly and Aaron

16:00 Hilda, David, Tom and Peter

See you all at 11am followed by small group tutorials



Institute of Making

The Institute of Making is a multidisciplinary research club for those interested in the made world: from makers of molecules to makers of buildings, synthetic skin to spacecraft, soup to clothes, furniture to cities. Learn more

via Home – Institute of Making.

Computers run hot so why not harness that heat to warm a building, Swiss researchers say.- swissinfo


Companies often spend large sums cooling network servers, but Swiss scientists have found a way to cut those costs by using computer-generated heat to warm buildings.

Physicists at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) working with IBM have created a liquid-cooled server system that can slash energy bills by as much as half while generating heat with little to no additional carbon emissions.

“Computers are an excellent source of heat that until now has been wasted,” Bruno Michel, an IBM physicist and leader of the project, told

via Computers run hot so why not harness that heat to warm a building, Swiss researchers say.- swissinfo.

Compact and flexible thermal storage – Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology

Compact and flexible thermal storage

Forschung Kompakt, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft,  Jun 01, 2012

Biogas plants, combined heat and power plants don’t just generate electricity, they also produce heat. However, unlike the electricity they yield, the heat generally dissipates unused. A new technology is set to change this: It will allow the heat to be stored lossfree in the smallest of spaces for lengthy periods of time, for use as and when required.

via Compact and flexible thermal storage – Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology.



Explanation: Are square A and B the same color? They are! To verify this, either run your cursor over the image or click here to see them connected. The above illusion, called the same color illusion, illustrates that purely human observations in science may be ambiguous or inaccurate. Even such a seemingly direct perception as relative color. Similar illusions exist on the sky, such as the size of the Moon near the horizon, or the apparent shapes of astronomical objects. The advent of automated, reproducible, measuring devices such as CCDs have made science in general and astronomy in particular less prone to, but not free of, human-biased illusions.

Site Visit and Associated Documents

please download the pdf here: Document 12 05112012 5 main project

Until this point we have been concentrating on an individual office – but now we must consider the office building as a system of connected workers. Individual and communal spaces connected by seen and unseen networks.

Lebbeus Woods, R.I.P.

Detail from

Lebbeus Woods, visionary architect of imaginary worlds, dies in New York

Architects including Zaha Hadid and Nigel Coates pay tribute to Lebbeus Woods, the cult building designer who dreamed up fantastical structures from a parallel universe


Must-visit (often) Website MATERIA

About Materia New materials present opportunities for fascinating innovations. Materia stimulates and inspires architects, designers and producers to applythese materials to their designs. The company is a knowledge centre for developments and innovations in materials, and their applications for architecture and design. Materia is familiar with many innovative materials from all over the world, as well having knowledge of their specific characteristics. This knowledge is published worldwide by Materia using various media.

Materia’s aim: to build together with creative professionals on a new vision for the future: Today’s inspirations is tomorrow’s innovation!

Book Review – Corporate Fields __Week 3 « HildaChak

Corporate Fields – New Office Environments by the AA DRL is a book on student projects by the AA Design Research Lab. The DRL was founded in 1996 and is one of the most recognised MArch programmes today. The book visits 26 design projects that were completed between October 1997 to January 2001. These projects are a combination of various initialisation, specification and organisation that have arrived into a final research result. They are sorted by pedagogical focus and what it has achieved. All projects explore the process and forms working with the way corporate companies work in the organizational and management aspects. There are also essays by various tutors on a range of subjects relating to office design.

via Book Review – Corporate Fields __Week 3 « HildaChak.

Amazing CAD/3D Model Site

something to check out – of free 3D models and such and a place to upload your own for comment and criticism.

Beijing to become smart city within three years (Wired UK)

Beijing to become smart city within three years

By Sarah Marsh12 October 12

via Beijing to become smart city within three years (Wired UK).


Space to Work: Book Review « CW


Posted by clarewashington on October 12, 2012 · 1 Comment


I have chosen to review ‘Space to Work’, a book written in 2006 by Jeremy Myerson and Philip Ross. The aim of the book is to establish a code of office design for the modern-day knowledge worker to increase productivity.

What is a knowledge worker?

The book starts off by defining what a ‘knowledge worker’ is; those who carry out work based not on performance, but on applying specific knowledge to a profession. Examples the book gives are doctors, lawyers and academics. This work doesn’t need a traditional office layout or design, something that many firms have failed to take note of in recent years. This is true of both the physical structure of the office layout and amenities it offers, as well as the hierarchical structure of the firm.

The four ‘realms’ of knowledge workers

The book looks at 43 separate case studies of offices, split into four realms of knowledge worker. These are the corporate realm, termed ‘Academy’, the professional realm (Guilds), the public realm (Agora) and the private realm (Lodge). These case studies give a good overview of what the book terms ‘new office design’ that could well lead to significant increases in workforce productivity. For this review I have chosen to summarise four case studies; one for each realm, to create an overview of these sections.

more via Space to Work: Book Review « MArch2.

PEG stands for Personal Energy Generator

Extends office space to the wilderness:


DS5 CPD part 3

Weekly CPD session – Session 3 Week 4 –
Presentation date: 9/10/2012


Find a book about office working/spaces and write a short synopsis picking out key points. Your book should be about office space/environments/psychology/design rather than a “coffee table” image book.

Notes: Choose your book carefully.
Notes: Your research will be public
Notes: Upload your review to your blog
Notes: Note the time.

Submission format: link via email to
Deadline: Tuesday Week 4 11am (16/10/2012)


Please comment below with your chosen book


I’ve often said that LED technology in its recent incarnation is one of the most important things to happen in architecture for 20 years.

Nick Holonyak was sure the LED would replace the incandescent light bulb when he presented it to GE executives 50 years ago. While the incandescent is still king in homes across the nation, the LED has transformed lighting in more ways than Holonyak could have imagined.

From those first dim red diodes to powerful streetlights in major cities, the LED has made its mark on the world.

The Ubiquitous Red LED

The first LEDs were red. This wasn’t an aesthetic choice. LEDs are made by building layers of semiconductor crystals on a wafer. As the layers are added, dopants are added to determine the color of the LED. The tiny wafer is placed into molten liquid and metal contacts and leads are then added. The mixture used in the first LEDs — gallium arsenide phosphide — produces a natural red color. That’s why red became the default color choice for so many indicator lights.

New processes have delivered a rainbow of available LED colors, making them suitable for far more than battery indicators and warning lights. But for the first 10 years of their existence, LEDs were red.


read more at:

DOCUMENTs – Page now available

See below, under “pages” for more details

Digitally Connect Space

Digi/Space USE - 1970-2010

Digi/Space USE – 1970-2010

Mechanical Brains

Drawing Spaces

Sarah Wigglesworth and Jeremy Till

Watch this space.

Sarah Wigglesworth and Jeremy Till

Our Student Blogs

Here is a list of the Blogs submitted by our students so far – check back, this post will be updated.

Molly Northover

Tom Pond

Hilda Chak:

Sebastian Pitman:

Clare Washington:

Kate Jones:

Aaron Brownsdon:

Josh Greig:

David Jarrard:

Peter Robinson:

Kartik Poria:

Antonio Rovira:

Tom Greenfield:

Ross Dannmayr:

Nigel Dakin: