We have already covered Los Angeles and the condition of potential and failure. But let’s explore deeper into some of these unfulfilled utopia projects, focusing on their programs and what they sought to achieve.
Doheny Ranch, located in what is now Beverly Hills, sought out to invent a new type of suburb. The goal was for total and seamless integration of buildings, roads, cars, and nature into one structure that responded to the hilly topography of the site, with a heavy dose of viaduct-like bridges and retaining walls.
Lloyd Wright’s Civic Center, located in downtown LA, proposed a massive and futuristic “acropolis for the city.” This insinuates elevation, height, and verticality with an element of fortification and inward focus towards the city core. The goal of the project was to reconceive the metropolitan core.
Not much information on this project but the idea of incorporating a major transportational element with the LA River is fascinating. This project simultaneously touches upon the idea of reprogramming the LA River and reprogramming for interactive infrastructure.
Using simple geometric forms to create a complex network of structures, Wright established work out spaces on top of Runyon Canyon. Runyon is a hot spot for joggers, hikers, and yoga advocates with a great view of the city so its not surprising that he co-opted and expanded the existing “impromptu” program and made it official. It is surprising that these pods are so elevated from the ground, which takes away what’s so great about working out in Runyon, even if the goal was to have even clearer views of the city.
The original LAX design is a lot more ambitious than what resulted. In this unresolved plan, the terminals and the parking structures would connect to the perimeter of a massive glass dome that housed traffic circulation. You could imagine how active his central hub would have been and what programs you could have fit in there to compliment the circulation of all these people. In the end, airlines wanted their own terminals and the cost of air conditioning would have been too much.
The Santa Monica Offshore Freeway extended the PCH out unto manmade islands that established a new marina that enclosed the Santa Monica Bay. This project would have created a manmade island with the primary function being transportation, but with obvious intentions to expand program on the island. What could those programs be?
The Alto Capistrano consisted of elevated residences and housing units that seems to connect directly from one unit to another in a linear fashion, playing with the duality of isolation of site and connection of units.
The Goodell Monorail had a top speed of 90 miles per hour that covered a 60 mile stretch of rail. It would run from LAX to downtown along Century Blvd and the 110. What would have made this possible was the fact that the monorail was elevated from the ground. The sleek design was influenced by the Cadillac, given the strong car culture of LA.
The Skylofts attempted to integrate high-rise, residential buildings with the highly congested 405. I really wish there was more information on this project because this image alone is fascinating. There seems to be at least two levels in which to access the buildings and the ground plane is not one of them. How does one access the buildings from the freeway? Does it exit straight into the complex? Is the traffic at all diverted through the complexes?
Sunset Mountain is a hi-tech megastructure that sits on top of the Santa Monica Mountains. It has a clear urban core with 7,200 housing units surrounding it. This massive project still managed to comply with the LA’s open space ordinances. I can understand the desire to build in the Santa Monica Mountains as they are the only major natural obstacle we must contend with in the LA basin. Right now, it’s just narrow, windy roads with high priced residences attached to them.
Dystopic 2019 Los Angeles is vertical, mechanical, grimy, and Japanese-inspired. Technology has evolved to allow flying cars and cities in the sky, but it seems like they’ve forgotten about the world below because the lower you go, the dirtier the environment is. The extremes of neon lights and dark brutalist structures make up its aesthetics. The lights act as bandages to the dilapidated buildings.
Disney Sea, the would-be commercialized utopia of the Long Beach Port, centers around a massive bubble building called Oceana, the main educational center where visitors could experience recreations of marine ecosystems. The theme park promotes participatory education through the lens of the spectacle. I love how focused they were about teaching the public about sea life when the park they created was so deliberately out of this world.
2013 Los Angeles is a technological, economical, and cultural utopia. It is a world city with a harmonious mix of different ethnicities. Space is used more efficiently to accommodate population growth, especially in housing where multiple families reside in a single unit, sharing kitchens and recreation rooms.
Earthquake-proof mega-structures have hanging floors that sway with movement. Metro Rail tubes are prominent in downtown LA. Electrical wires now run below ground instead of above.
The work schedule in the city is staggered to avoid congestion in the streets and overcrowding in downtown LA.
Evolution of technology allows for smart cars with GPS that self-diagnoses its malfunctions and automatically respond to changes in the road’s condition. Car culture still prevails but the introduction of electric cars that glide through the road help mitigate traffic woes. Smart houses now completely turn on or off depending on use. Household robots that take care of menial tasks around the house are not only programmable but also teachable as if they were a 5 year old child. The evolution of the computer will allow for fast paced learning, with knowledge readily available to everyone.