When Modernism was Futuristic

May 13, 2009

What did modernist planning and architecture look like from the perspective of the modernist? It was progressive, forward-thinking—and may have had more in common with contemporary planning than we'd care to admit. A 1959 time capsule recently unearthed in Burbank included these predictions by a local city planner: in 50 years, seven of every eight residents would be living in garden apartments made of plastic, and incorporated into mixed-use complexes; and a “rapid monorail” system would connect “metro centers” including malls. These ideas have more space-age characteristics than our current thinking (we have no goal to inhabit plastic pods, have automated parking at every destination or live in homes connected to a shopping mall), but the ambition of having an urban density connected to mass transit is still alive. Perhaps another 50 years will realize our ideas.