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Blade Runner's Los Angeles has towering skyscrapers piled next to one another. It features street-level open air markets and restaurants. Freeways are conspicuously absent and the streets are for pedestrians only. Granted, cars fly through the sky instead of on the ground and it's hard to call a city laden with toxic waste and murderous robots walkable.
Blade Runner’s visual imagery has inarguable power, but its vision of the urban future was already a half-century old. The grandfather of the film’s design choices is architectural illustrator Hugh Ferriss.
His Metropolis of Tomorrow (1929) collected depictions of an extraordinarily exaggerated New York. His unrestrained imagination created a city of the future in which step-pyramid towers rise from vaguely glimpsed streets, shimmering in artificial light against or evening skies. To illustrate “projected trends” and “an imaginary metropolis,” he drew dozens of fantastic views, filling them with hypertrophied Chrysler Buildings and superscaled Rockefeller Centers.
Blade Runner 2019 City Design
Blade Runner (1982) opens with a nightmare scene of future Los Angeles. Aircars maneuver through darkness lit by fire and explosion among monolithic office towers. These commercial ziggurats house and embody the corporate powers that dominate the city. They rise like vast pyramids over the shadowed streets, with the bulking pyramid of the Tyrell Corporation looming like an immense jukebox.