Los Angeles has led the world in experimental residential design but fallen behind in civic ambition. That’s the view of Sam Lubell and Greg Golden, whose upcoming show, Neverbuilt, examines the brilliant misses in LA past, and now architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, writing in the Los Angeles Times on the eve of the mayoral election.
Hawthorne doesn’t hold back from ”offering advice” to candidates on fixing the “worst examples of LA’s faulty civic vision.” These examples include LAX, which he describes as a “jumble of mismatched, outdated terminals” that, even more foolishly, does not have a stop for either the Green Line nor the pending Crenshaw Line.
Another public transit boondoggle is the subway that won’t go to the sea, due to longstanding resistance on the Westside. Then there’s the LA River, “straitjacketed” in concrete, that could be ameliorated if only city leaders threw their support behind some of the more imaginative proposals for the river, such as imaginative schemes for Piggyback Yards and the 6th Street Bridge (covered extensively on DnA, here and here, and reportedly hewing as much as possible to the vision created, above, by HNTB’s Ted Zoli and Michael Maltzan).
And we shouldn’t forget downtown’s Pershing Square, a once popular square destroyed by locating a parking garage underneath it, and Grand Avenue, the “murderers row” of architectural landmarks that has failed to deliver on 50 years of efforts to transform it into a cultural hub (as explored in Grand Illusion).
Hawthorne’s piece is a bracing provocation, as you find by reading his article here, though he doesn’t dwell much on the cultural and political factors that have contributed to LA not being like Paris in terms of ambitious centralized planning. That’s going to be one of the goals of Neverbuilt, as Sam Lubell explained to DnA. Meanwhile, what’s your view about LA? Visionary or small-minded city? Are there other projects that should be on Hawthorne’s list?