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Queens Museum exhibit shows New York City as it could have been

The installation will showcase 200 years worth of unrealized Big Apple projects via original drawings, renderings, newly commissioned models, and 3D visualizations.

May 23, 2017 |

Image courtesy of Metropolis Books.

Like some sort of Island of Misfit Toys, an entirely different New York City could be created purely out of the structures that were designed for the city but never built. Buckminster Fuller’s giant Dome Over Manhattan, I.M. Pei’s Hyperboloid, or Frank Lloyd Wright’s plans for Ellis Island would, individually, have significantly altered the City That Never Sleeps. Together, however, these projects, and hundreds of others that were never realized, would have created a New York City that is drastically different from the one that exists today.

A new exhibition, coming to the Queens Museum in September 2017, will create a gallery dedicated to rarely seen models, sketches, and drawings of dozens of structures designed for New York City but never built. As part of the exhibit, more than 70 models will be installed to the museum’s Panorama of the City of New York, a scale model of Manhattan originally commissioned for the 1964 World’s Fair.


A small portion of the Panorama of the City of New York. Image courtesy of Metropolis Books


The Queens Museum launched a Kickstarter campaign in an effort to reach a goal of $35,000 to support the installation of the gallery. In addition to showing some of the more imaginative concepts that were never built, the exhibition will also “explore the backstory behind how and why New York City came to look the way it does,” according to the project’s Kickstarter page.

The goal of the exhibit is to showcase many of the fascinating New York projects that never came to fruition and to show how issues such as ecological sustainability, population displacement, and economic inequity are linked to the built environment


Buckminster Fuller's Dome Over Manhattan. Image courtesy of Metropolis Books


Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell have curated the exhibit with models designed by Studio Christian Wassmann. The models are being purpose-built by students in Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Goldin and Lubell previously created a Never Built Los Angeles exhibit in 2013 that was on display at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles.


Rufus Gilbert's Elevated Railway. Image courtesy of Metropolis Books

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