The Great 'What If': Cities Engage the Unbuilt

A spirit of reflection seems to be in the air across America this summer. Exhibitions in Chicago, the Bay Area, and Los Angeles catalog major projects that were never built and allow visitors to imagine what might have been.

We've already looked at the critically acclaimed Never Built: Los Angeles exhibit being staged at the city's A+D Museum. But a couple of other noteworthy areas have turned a critical gaze on their own history of design and disuse.  

"From the abandoned foundations of the ill-fated Chicago Spire to the ghosts of would-be Tribune Towers galore, Chicago’s unbuilt legacy could rival the iconic skyline it actually achieved," writes Chris Bentley. "An exhibition on display downtown, dubbed City Works: Provocations for Chicago’s Urban Future, confronts the city with its alternative skyline in the form of a panoramic wall design and a “Phantom Chicago” iPhone app."

Meanwhile, up the coast from Los Angeles, five locations in San Francisco and Berkeley will present the exhibition "Unbuilt San Francisco," as "part of the 10th annual Architecture and the City Festival, a month of architectural tours, film screenings, lectures and exhibitions beginning Sept. 1," reports Rachel Zarrow. "Each venue will have a distinct theme, but all feature designs that make the viewer wonder: What if this were actually built?"



Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

The Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs is the only comprehensive ranking and listing of graduate urban planning programs available.
Starting at $24.95
Wood necklace with city map

City Necklaces

These sweet pendants are engraved on a cedar charm with a mini map of selected cities. The perfect gift for friends and family or yourself!

Build Your Own Paper Block City

Urban Fold is an all-inclusive kit that allows anyone to build the city of their dreams with a few simple folds.