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Gothamist

5 Amazing Projects That Were Never Built

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Gothamist

Architects are some of the world’s best thinkers. Without new ideas, society cannot progress and evolve. They’re there to push the boundaries and test new concepts—which sometimes work.

But often, the architects' projects are cut off by monetary constraints, or by governments and planning committees who aren’t quite as progressive as they are. That means that an awful lot of innovative ideas for buildings, towns and cities fall by the wayside, left in drawers as paper plans and polystyrene models. Here are five amazing projects that were never built—examples of what could have been, rather than what was.

1. Motopia

Things Magazine

In the 1960s and '70s, Britain was buoyed by the Pilkington company's newfound ability to produce large plate glass. The company formed a new group, called the Glass Age Development Committee, to promote the use of glass as a building material. One of the committee's prized plans was Motopia, a car-based city designed by Geoffrey Alan Jellicoe. The cars, and all the roads, were to be placed on top of large glass buildings, leaving the ground for relaxation, greenery, and pedestrianized parkland. It would've been a stark contrast to today, where roads rule the ground. But ultimately, it was never built, and sketches are all that remain.

2. LAX’s giant dome

Fabrik LA

LAX already has unique architecture; its Theme Building looks like a giant spaceship rising up into the sky. But architects Pereira & Luckman’s original 1952 plans for the airport were even more outlandish. They wanted to encase the airport under a giant glass dome, with palm trees reaching up to the roof of the circular central hub building, from which the terminals would branch off.

3. Hotel Atraccion, New York

Wikimedia Commons

Edward Carlton, a hotelier, was a fan of Antoni Gaudi’s unique architectural designs. So in 1908, when Carlton wanted to build a new hotel for the superrich in Lower Manhattan, he travelled over to Spain to meet the architect and artist to commission him to design the building. The Hotel Atraccion would have been more than 1000 feet high and towered over New York, had Gaudi not abandoned the project a year later.

4. The Manhattan Dome

Gothamist

Even today, the allure of living under a protective bubble is strong—and it certainly was in 1960, when Buckminster Fuller and Shoji Sadao suggested encasing Manhattan in a 3.3km-wide dome made of shatterproof, one-way glass. Today the idea seems way too outlandish to be considered, but back in the 1960s promise and potential were freer.

5. The Green Bird, London

Skyscraper Page

The people of London narrowly escaped a blush-worthy error in judgment when the Green Bird tower was trashed in 1990. Architects Future Systems suggested building an 83-floor tower 1450 feet high in Battersea, London that would curve over the city. The only problem was, well…it had an unfortunate shape that would never have escaped endless ridicule.

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Watch an Artist Build a Secret Studio Beneath an Overpass
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Lebrel

Artists can be very particular about the spaces where they choose to do their work. Furniture designer Fernando Abellanas’s desk may not boast the quietest or most convenient location on Earth, but it definitely wins points for seclusion. According to Co.Design, the artist covertly constructed his studio beneath a bridge in Valencia, Spain.

To make his vision a reality, Abellanas had to build a metal and plywood apparatus and attach it to the top of an underpass. After climbing inside, he uses a crank to wheel the box to the top of the opposite wall. There, the contents of his studio, including his desk, chair, and wall art, are waiting for him.

The art nook was installed without permission from the city, so Abellanas admits that it’s only a matter of time before the authorities dismantle it or it's raided by someone else. While this space may not be permanent, he plans to build others like it around the city in secret. You can get a look at his construction process in the video below.

[h/t Co.Design]

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One of Frank Lloyd Wright's Final Residential Designs Goes on Sale in Ohio
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In case you’ve missed the many recent sales of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed real estate, you have yet another chance to secure yourself a historical starchitect home. The Louis Penfield House is being sold by its original owners, and it could be yours for a cool $1.3 million. The restored Usonian home in Willoughby Hills, Ohio has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2003.

The house is currently a vacation rental and, depending on the preference of the new owner, it could continue to operate as a tourist destination. Or you could take it over as your private residence, which sounds pretty luxurious. It still has a floor-to-ceiling glass-walled living room that looks out on the Chagrin River, and comes with all the original furniture Wright designed. Like Wright’s other Usonian homes, it has a radiant-floor heating system that draws on a natural gas well onsite.

A retro-looking living room features floor-to-ceiling windows.
A bedroom is filled with vintage wooden furniture.

Around the same time as the original commission, Louis and Pauline Penfield also asked Wright to create another house on an adjacent property, and that home would prove to be the architect’s final residential design. It was still on the drawing board when he died unexpectedly in 1959. The sale of the Penfield House includes the original plans for the second house, called Riverrock, so you’d be getting more like 1.5 Frank Lloyd Wright houses. Seems like a pretty good deal to us.

All images via Estately

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