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Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940-1990

  • Edited by Wim de Wit and Christopher James Alexander

    Independent Publisher has awarded this catalogue a Gold medal for Best Regional Non-Fiction in the Pacific West.

    From 1940 to 1990, Los Angeles rapidly evolved into one of the most populous and influential industrial, economic, and creative capitals in the world. During this era, the region was transformed into a laboratory for cutting-edge architecture. Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940—1990 examines these experiments and their impact on modern design, reframes the perceptions of Los Angeles’s dynamic built environment, and amplifies the exploration of the city’s vibrant architectural legacy.

    The drawings, models, and images highlighted in the Overdrive exhibition and catalogue reveal the complex and often underappreciated facets of Los Angeles and illustrate how the metropolis became an internationally recognized destination with a unique design vocabulary, canonical landmarks, and a coveted lifestyle. This investigation builds upon the groundbreaking work of generations of historians, theorists, curators, critics, and activists who have researched and expounded upon the development of Los Angeles. In this volume, thought-provoking essays shed more light on the exhibition’s narratives, including Los Angeles’s physical landscape, the rise of modernism, the region’s influential residential architecture, its buildings for commerce and transportation, and architects’ pioneering uses of bold forms, advanced materials, and new technologies.

    Los Angeles’s ability to facilitate change, experiment, recalibrate, and forge ahead is one of its greatest strengths. Future generations are destined to harness the region’s enviable resources to create new layers of architectural innovations.

    The related exhibition was held at the J. Paul Getty Museum April 9 to July 21, 2013.

    Wim de Wit is an architectural historian and former head of the Department of Architecture and Contemporary Art at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. He has organized numerous exhibitions and contributed to catalogues about topics in the history of twentieth-century architecture, including Lessons from Bernard Rudofsky: Life as a Voyage (Birkhäuser, 2007). Christopher James Alexander is assistant curator of architecture and design at the Getty Research Institute. He is the author of Julius Shulman’s Los Angeles (Getty, 2011).

    “This catalog offers a kaleidoscopic overview of Los Angeles as built environs.”
    —Winterthur Portfolio

    “A handsome exhibition catalog.”
    Wall Street Journal

    “[This volume] offers non-Angelinos a chance to reframe their imagined views of this quintessentially quirky conurbation.”
    —New York Review of Books

    “Masterful. . . . Under four wide headings De Wit and Alexander invite a stellar roster of historians to exhume the city’s past.”
    —Los Angeles Review of Books

    Overdrive: LA Constructs the Future, 1940–1990. . . produces an incisive critique and an oddly exhilarating reverie by excavating remains—archival photos and ads, engineering drawings, architectural renderings and models—that document LA’s continuing failures in architecture and urban planning.”

    “This book is unmatched in portraying the personality of Los Angeles’s urbanism. Essential for all students of architecture and urbanism.”
    —Library Journal

    “An eye-opening compendium of architectural drawings and b&w photos . . . along with 11 essays on how Los Angeles came to be what it is today.”
    —Book News

    320 pages

    10 1/2 x 9 3/4 inches
    112 color and 98 b/w illustrations, 4 line drawings
    ISBN 978-1-60606-128-2

    Getty Publications
    Imprint: Getty Research Institute