LATBD is an art installation by the futurist and architecture writer Geoff Manaugh and the architect duo Smout Allen.

The installation, displayed in the Treasure Room of USC Libraries (University of Southern California) from October 2015 to January 2016, speculates on possible futures for Los Angeles, drawing on some aspects of its past that contributed to shaping its present. “L.A.T.B.D”, in fact, stands for “Los Angeles, To Be Determined”.

While there might be glimpses of what might come, the installation draft ideas of possible futures, rather than constructing one coherent future for the city. As Geoff Manaugh writes:

However, not one for prediction or prescriptive visions of tomorrow, I wanted this to be far more open-ended than that. We thus developed several parallel lines of materials for the show. (bldgblog)

One of these “parallel lines” is the series of 3D models designed by Smout Allen, depicting hypothetical future moments and spaces. While some of these models could cohexist in the same city, others are in clear contradiction.

The exhibition also included elements of game and interactive experiences for the visitors. The accompaining text, for example, is conceived as an “architectural or infrastructural noir”, inviting the reader to chose a narrative path, and contribute to determine how the hypothetical future might unfold.

This text combines a small-scale look at what sort of Los Angeles might yet greet our unborn descendants—complete with neighborhoods flooded by sea-level rise, widespread demographic shifts, and corrupt political machinations—with a subtext of noir or urban mystery. (bldgblog)



The exhibition also included a collection of objects from the past and past predictions of futures that never happened.


References and Links

bldgblog, Geoff Manaugh’s blog:

Smout Allen:

All photos are from bldblog. Author’s approval pending.