These 5 Architecture Projects Would Have Changed New York—but Were Never Built
Buckminister Fuller Autograph on 'NOTES', 1975, Periodical of the School of Architecture and Environmental Design, February 1975, Lecture at/from State University of New York, SUNY Buffalo, NY.
SUNY Buffalo, NY
Hemphill Collection, NY
Best known for popularizing the geodesic dome, R. Buckminster Fuller produced theories and contributions to science, architecture, and design that amounted to a sweeping and utopian vision for the future. Self-described as a “comprehensive, anticipatory design scientist,” Fuller sought to alter the landscape of daily life with his prefabricated homes and cutting-edge vehicles. “My objective was humanity’s comprehensive success in the universe,” he once said. His projects include the “Dymaxion” house and car, whose simplicity and adaptability to different landscapes were intended for mass production and efficient living, though neither was ever made widely available. The spirit of Fuller’s inventiveness remains influential to present-day entrepreneurs, artists, and inventors alike.
American, 1895-1983, Milton, Massachusetts, based in Los Angeles, California
One of the most important architects of the 20th and 21st centuries, Frank Gehry is considered a pioneer of Deconstructivism, a movement that exploded the tenets of Modernist architecture, replacing its geometry and rational order with fragmented forms and fluid, non-rectilinear shapes. During his early career, Gehry worked in the International Style established by the Bauhaus and the pioneering French architect Le Corbusier, but was increasingly drawn to the avant-garde communities emerging in California in the 1960s and ’70s. “I think the blurring of the lines between art and architecture has got to happen,” he once said. He began to build furniture from industrial corrugated cardboard and used rough industrial materials such as chain link fencing and aluminium to create more expressive elements in his architectural work. An increasing playfulness of style lead to the design for Gehry’s most iconic building, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (1997), whose sweeping curves of titanium are echoed in Gehry’s downtown L.A. building, the Walt Disney Concert Hall (2003).
Canadian-American, b. 1929, Toronto, Canada, based in Los Angeles, California
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Often cited as one of the founders of American modernism, industrial designer George Nelson is responsible for some of the most iconic furniture created in the 20th century. His utopian view of design, which he argued in the pages of Architectural Forum where he was an editor in the 1930s and ’40s, resulted in domestic standbys of contemporary domestic architecture, such as the family room and the storage wall. Nelson worked for Herman Miller for over a quarter-century, helping the company come up with their famously functional furniture pieces. Idealistic until the end, Nelson believed that “total design is nothing more or less than a process of relating everything to everything.”
American, 1908-1986, Hartford, CT, United States
Before realizing a single building, Dutch architect and theorist Rem Koolhaas won notoriety for his book, Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan (1978), which plumbed the city’s history to find patterns and intention in its seemingly frenetic and haphazard development. Koolhaas’s approach to understanding Manhattan is emblematic of his approach to architecture in general. Dismissive of prescriptive notions of architectural permanence, Koolhaas is more interested in creating structures that are open to manipulation and organic growth. Koolhaas founded the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in 1975 and has built projects worldwide, including the Villa dall’Ava in Paris (1991) and the Central China Television Headquarters in Beijing (2012). In 2000, he was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, one of the highest accomplishments in the field.
Dutch, b. 1944, Rotterdam, Netherlands