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Buckminster Fuller Dome, 1961 © Never Built New York, Metropolis Books
Buckminster Fuller Dome, 1961 © Never Built New York, Metropolis Books
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Never Built New York Finally Coming To New York

Picture of Amber C. Snider
Home & Design Editor
Updated: 27 October 2017

Queens Museum is set to open a new design exhibit in September 2017, featuring all that New York never was.

Never Built New York, an stunning architectural tome published by Metropolis Books in 2016, authors Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin examine retro, futuristic renderings of unrealized structures in New York City and present an alternative view of Gotham City. Now, it has the chance to go from the page to the gallery.

These dormant, unfamiliar renderings will (briefly) come to life in the form of 3D visualizations and models; a rare opportunity for all, but particularly for historians, art-lovers, architects, and designers. For admirers of the book, the exhibit will offer yet another lens through which to examine a New York City that never existed.

Lubell, Goldin, and designer Christian Wassermann will curate the exhibition, but only if the museum raises their goal of $35k on Kickstarter by June 22, 2017. The installments will feature nearly 200 years of “visionary architectural and urban designs that never came to be, all brought to life for the first time with original drawings, renderings, newly commissioned models, and 3D visualizations.”

These architectural works, although never built, are still very much alive, and “therein lies the paradox of unbuilt and unperformed works,” says architect Daniel Libeskind in the book’s forward. “They live in their own existence, oblivious to time,” he writes.

More than 70 architectural models, built by students at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, are to be installed in the exhibit. “Through Never Built New York, the Queens Museum will not only exhibit many daring designs that were never realized, but also encourage discourse around how some of the most pressing issues of our time—ecological sustainability, population displacement, and economic inequity—are inextricably linked to our built environment,” writes the museum on the Kickstarter website. Contributors to the campaign can receive exhibition prints, special access to the exhibit, 3D-printed models, and more.

The images below are at once lost and found, discarded and reinterpreted, like emerging ghosts from an architectural past. These unbuilt structures, birthed out of utility or fantasy, tease us with their possibility. Now, finally, they may have the brief chance to come to life.

All images courtesy of Metropolis Books and taken from Never Built New York (2016).

Robert Moses’ Fifth Avenue Extension. Never Built New York. Image courtesy of © Metropolis Books

Moshe Sadie, 1968. Never Built New York. Image courtesy of © Metropolis Books

Howe and Lescaze MoMA. Never Built New York. Image courtesy of © Metropolis Books

Wlliam Zeckendorf and Wallace K. Harrison UN Midtown Connector, 1948. Never Built New York. Image courtesy of © Metropolis Books

Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum New Penn Station 2005. Never Built New York. Image courtesy of © Metropolis Books