Apparently downtown has a gaping hole in its skyline that was meant to be filled by an "avant-garde series of geometrical metal shapes housing theaters, museum, cafes, walkways, a genealogy library and other cultural amenities." Confused? Let's refresh. Way back in 1988, Mayor Bradley wanted an architectural icon to represent L.A. It was a simpler, more innocent time, before Gehry, Mayne, & Moneo had given downtown its starchitecture cred. So long ago that condos weren't even included in the would-be-icon's programming needs.
So there was a design competition to create the Statue of Liberty (but better!) of L.A
Asymptote Architecture of New York (!) won with a 1600' long steel and concrete structure that would span the 101 freeway in as gratuitously complex a manner as possible -- fitting for the town that invented the greeble. A pedestrian walkway was elevated high above the traffic lanes, and the occupied space pushed even higher above that to reach 140' tall. Together this created an ideal location for hanging huge billboards; a concept not alien to future 'iconic' buildings.
The $33 million required to build the project was to be raised from private donors, but sadly the funds never materialized and neither did the Steel Cloud. But the concept never really died. Morphosis picked a similiar structural vocabulary for their 101 pedestrian bridge proposal in 2000 and in 2008 several Virginia Tech architecture students produced flying-steel design for the Wilshire-overpass bridges. None of these ideas are more than computer renderings...yet.--Danny Ahkiam
· Remembering L.A.'s Steel Cloud [LA Now]
· Steel Cloud [ASY Arch]