Keeping Up With Googie: So-Cal’s Signature Style

Southern California's signature style, Googie was one of the most interesting things about it at a time.

L.A. is known for its eclectic architecture. And this is just the start of the many things to see in LA, for a new resident or old. The humble ranch houses create quite the unique contrast against its Art Deco skyscrapers. But, a new (well, technically old) wave is resurfacing and it’s called Googie.

In the 1950s, L.A. created its very own style that was an optimistic culmination of a lot things. We saw bold colors, myriad materials, and very very daring geometry. Think of the TV cartoon The Jetsons. Yep, animators for the show mirrored Googie architecture for their inspiration for this futuristic cartoon.

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Source: The Smithsonian Magazine

However, this style was a little more than futurism and expression. It was meant to be strategic. The main goal being the construction of a building so eye-catching that as many passersby as possible stop by at these businesses. (The first-ever McDonald’s was a Googie!)

The architectural industry believes that Googie got its name when architecture critic Douglas Haskell was driving around Los Angeles researching a story on the new coffee shops in the city. The name dawned upon him when he came across an eclectic-looking coffee shop on Sunset Boulevard called Googies.

Here are some of our favorite Googie-inspired spots around the city!

Union 76 Station

Built by Gin Wong, William Pereira & Associates in 1965, Union Station boasts of strong and angular rooflines, which are often a reflection of new engineering techniques and are a common trait of Googie buildings.

This gas station, designed with an enormous, swooping roof, was originally intended to be part of LAX, but when another project was chosen for the airport instead, it was built in Beverly Hills as one of the many attractions of this part of the city.

Five Points Car Wash

Source: Los Angeles Conservancy

Constructed in the year 1963, the Five Points Car Wash became the best example of Googie buildings representing the business they housed. Five Points Car Wash features a row of tall pylons that draws attention to the structure.

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The first-ever McDonald’s

Source: Los Angeles Conservancy

One of the earliest adopters of Googie was McDonald’s – when it first began its burger empire in the 1950s, the goal was to use alluring architecture.

Its first establishment included a 30-foot-high version of its now-famous “golden arches” that pierced the roof of the restaurant.

The materials used included: a variety of finished of stone, glass, metal linoleum, Formica, cork, concrete, brick, and plastic – inside and out!

Technicolor galore!

If the foundation of Googie was a structurally appealing silhouette, then the icing on top was color and building materials. Googie architects made sure to use bold and contrasting colors to make the buildings just one of the many things that stand out about LA architecture. The materials used included: a variety of finished of stone, glass, metal linoleum, Formica, cork, concrete, brick, and plastic – inside and out!

Johnie’s Coffee Shop

Source: LA Eater

Built by Armed and Davis in 1956, Johnie’s Coffee Shop stands in pride as it occupies a corner lot, which was built to give passersby a sense of its sharp angular roof. But it’s the blue & white plaint, red sign, the stonework, and the perforated cladding that create all of its visual appeal.

Chips

Built by Harry Harrison in 1956, Chips has a fairly restrained shape compared to its contemporaries. But its tall and bright teal sign commands all your attention. The angled letter look like they’re shifting towards you as you move past the building. The color scheme is also build to continue inside, with seafoam green stools and walls.