Googie: Architecture Of The Future That Never Was

Paleofuture on the mid-twentieth century school of design in which apartment buildings, restaurants, stores, banks, and hotels were built in a style heralding the rise of the space age. If only we still lived in a Googie world:

Before I moved to Los Angeles (almost 2 years ago now) I had never heard the word Googie. I didn’t know the word, but I definitely knew the style. And I suspect you might too.

Googie is a modern (ultramodern, even) architectural style that helps us understand post-WWII American futurism — an era thought of as a “golden age” of futurist design for many here in the year 2012. It’s a style built on exaggeration; on dramatic angles; on plastic and steel and neon and wide-eyed technological optimism. It draws inspiration from Space Age ideals and rocketship dreams. We find Googie at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, the Space Needle in Seattle, the mid-century design of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland, in Arthur Radebaugh‘s postwar illustrations, and in countless coffee shops and motels across the U.S.

Googie is undeniably the super-aesthetic of 1950s and ’60s American retro-futurism — a time when America was flush with cash and ready to deliver the technological possibilities that had been promised during WWII. “Googie made the future accessible to everyone.” So we tip our hats to the believers and non-believers alike. These beautiful, bizarre competing visions of our future — or our future that never was.

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  • Person

    Little history on the Space needle and Seattle center.  The space needle originally had a natural gas flame on the top of it.  The expansion and contraction from the flame caused the rivets to back out. A company named Flohr metal fab did the repairs, I worked for that company long after that job but was told about it by previous employees. 

    I worked on the Experience music project directly below it in 1999/2000, I put together much of the outside of that building working for a company named Zahner.

    That’s all, just something I”m very familiar with.

  • Person

     Oh, the mono rail goes directly thru the EMP, has a glass cover to keep people from getting anything dropped on them while walking underneath the mono rail.

    I installed the safety line system for the maintenance workers that now work that building.  If I messed up, the pedestals I was installing would of crashed thru the glass.   It was raining frozen rain when I did that job.   How I managed to do that without dropping one was a miracle.  I did it on grave yard shift.

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