Apr 27, 2011


This morning I noticed in the L.A. Times an obit for an architect named Eldon Davis. I'd never heard of him. He designed in the style of Googie. I'd never heard of that either. Turns out Googie is one of my favorite architectural styles and the main reason why I consider L.A. the architectural capital of the U.S.

What is it?

Googie style was named after the Googie coffee shop in L.A. designed by architect John Lautner. It doesn't exist any more; razed in 1989. I couldn't find a picture of it. The style is characterized by a sort of 50s/60s view of a futuristic sci-fi style. A Space Age bachelor pad style if you will. Unusual angles, roofs which angle up, curvy boomerang shapes and so forth.

It was born to some extent out of the car culture in California and was a natural progression from the late Art Deco style, Streamline Moderne. It's relation to car culture is interesting. Because businesses were starting to be built in the suburbs rather than on a central Main Street, business owners needed to find a way to attract potential customers' eyes. "Hey there's a store right here." Googie built on Streamline Moderne by incorporating two themes that were fascinations of the public at that time; nuclear energy and space travel. Most Googie architecture was done for drive-ins, movie theaters, coffee shops, and gas stations. Just driving around L.A. you'll see lots of them.

One of the first examples of Googie was McAllister's Bob's Big Boy in Burbank.

But the most iconic examples you will know are the Seattle Space Needle, the Theme Building at LAX, the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, and the Green Holiday Inn sign in front of the hotels.

L.A. Times Obit Eldon Davis
Googie Flickr Group
LA Googie Flickr Search

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