Los Angeles touts architectural history in new exhibition

Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:05pm EDT
 
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By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles is often seen as a sprawling, smoggy concrete metropolis or a kitschy Hollywood movie set but that image is getting a shiny new makeover in an exhibition that highlights the city's often overlooked contributions to modern architecture.

"Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990," takes stock of the city's booming post-World War Two growth, shining a light on buildings that often go unnoticed by the 18 million people living in a metropolitan area about the size of Belgium.

"People don't think about Los Angeles in architectural and design terms," exhibition curator Wim de Wit told Reuters. "People think about Los Angeles as an accident that sort of happened."

"Overdrive," part of the Pacific Standard Time Presents regional initiative of 11 exhibitions, presents Los Angeles as an architectural dream factory on a par with Hollywood's influence on post-war moviemaking.

It is housed at the Getty Center museum - itself regarded as a modern architectural jewel atop a Los Angeles mountain - through July 21.

"There are so many myths and clichés that are just misunderstandings," de Wit said. "We're trying to straighten out and create different views of Los Angeles as a city ... One point we're trying to make is that it's a planned city with thought behind it."

The exhibition, which features photographs, architectural drawings, models and films, shows how those plans crafted in the 1940s and 1950s were unparalleled in their time, setting up what de Wit calls a "laboratory" for modern living.

Indeed, the area's vast freeway system was able to connect far-flung suburbs to the city's center while Los Angeles International Airport was the first of its kind to create modern terminals amenable to automobile traffic.   Continued...

 
The iconic Theme Building of Los Angeles International Airport is shown in this 1961 architectural rendering released to Reuters on April 13, 2013. Los Angeles is often seen as a sprawling, smoggy concrete metropolis or a kitschy Hollywood movie set but that image is getting a shiny new makeover in an exhibition that highlights the city's often overlooked contributions to modern architecture. "Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990," takes stock of the city's booming post-World War Two growth, shining a light on buildings that often go unnoticed by the 18 million people living in a metropolitan area about the size of Belgium. REUTERS/Image courtesy of and © The Luckman Partnership, Inc. | a Salas O'Brien Company/Handout