Through September 30th
The virtual exhibit "Transportation Futuristics: Visionary Designs in Transportation Engineering" accompanies the physical installation in the Doe Library, UC Berkeley campus -- and includes a lot more material from the archives that can only be viewed online.
Both exhibits examine innovative (or just plain odd) solutions drummed up to address transportation design in a pre-Windows, pre-iPod, pre-Concorde environment -- none of which made it into the mainstream.
Were the designers too forward-thinking? Was there just no way to make the design viable, on an economic level? Or did the prototype just become obsolete, in the wake of a more efficient transport solution?
In some cases, the designs remained on paper, never to make it to the production stage.
In others, the designers committed their what-ifs to celluloid; this was the case with Ford designer Syd Mead, who went on to imagine futuristic transport solutions for movies like "Tron," "Aliens" and "Blade Runner."
[Shown/left: AIDA Development thought this “standing seats” design was a nifty idea to increase human cargo capacity on short-haul flights. Don’t think so. From: “Aircraft Interiors International”, March 2004]
[Shown/right: Horseless Sulky prototype. Achieved speeds of up to 116mph.
From: “Popular Science”, c. 1935]
The exhibit is interesting from a visual standpoint, also to take note of what eventually worked out: air-conditioning in cars, ATVs, escalators, elevated subway lines, a version of GPS.
But it's also interesting to think about what we might have been riding around in, today, given a different design/production outcome: Helicopter for one? Aircar cruiser? Freedomship? Floating airbus? PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) pod to go? Amphibious RV? Robotic automotive tech, via the Hallucigenia project?
What about a NYC-LA "transplanetary subway"?
Odd and interesting, even the what-in-hell designs have an element of originality, albeit an occasional glaring lack of common sense.
Take a look around and go back to the future...
[Shown/header image: Flying helicopter bus, shown in advertisement for Bohn Aluminum.]
Find it: Bernice Layne Brown Gallery
Doe Library, UC Berkeley
Get info: (510) 642-6000 (main)
View online exhibit.