I am a deep believer in the old saying “you learn something new every day.” I certainly do. This morning I was reading the paper and found out that a historic building is being knocked down in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. This building most recently housed a Denny’s and has been other restaurants in its time. Advocates were trying to save it as a fine example of Googie architecture.
I love architecture, but I’d never heard that term before. I looked it up on Wikipedia—yay! Wikipedia—and found out it’s the name for a style that I adore. Think of all those roadside businesses built in the Fifties and Sixties with that futuristic look—the upswept roofs, the starbursts, the boomerangs. That’s Googie. The style was named after one of those businesses, named Googie’s. Like many examples of the style it’s been demolished. People don’t always value things until they are gone, and many critics believe if something is popular it must not be good. Hogwash! A lot of these buildings were motels, bowling alleys and other businesses. Buildings on the commercial strip are more prone to redevelopment than other historic structures, but I treasure the ones that remain. I remember road trips I’ve taken, and all the signage I’ve admired. A lot of that is typical Googie, too. I think back to a giant coffee pot splashing into a neon cup, and the enormous flashing arrow which directed me to stop at that particular restaurant. The food was good, too.
I love these types of buildings because they look fun, and remind me of the other styles of the era. Our very own Space Needle qualifies as Googie architecture because of its futuristic look. This style is another reminder that our buildings don’t have to be big ugly boxes. I have more fun eating my scrambled eggs in a shiny metal diner than I do consuming the same meal served at a non-descript chain restaurant. Our surroundings do make a difference. I’m glad that I’ve learned the proper term for this style. I want to sing its praises by name. Yay Googie!
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
110: Do you like the futuristic buildings of the Fifties era? Why or why not? Do you know the names of the architectural styles you do appreciate? If not, try to discover them.