....In order to understand and appreciate the beginnings of the Sambo's Restaurant Chain, it's imperative that you know and understand the era of the Googie Architectual Design. Below, I have compiled the best sourses of information found to bring you a quick understanding of this special era of architecture. I myself have just learned of Googie as I found my passion for the history of Sambo's. I not only spot Googie everywhere I go now, but rememeber being in buildings of Googie without even knowing what I was looking at. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
....Googie is one of those architectural styles that is way
underappreciated. This architectural design came about in the
post World War II era and was very popular throughout the 50s and
60s. Los Angeles and Orange County California were the
birthplaces of Googie architecture and they both hold some of the
best remnants of this style. The term Googie was originally
coined by a man by the name of John Lautner in the year 1949,
when he designed a coffee shop called Googies in Los
Angeles. The name "Googie" had been a family nickname
of Lillian K. Burton, the wife of the original owner, Mortimer C.
Burton. Googies was located at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and
Crescent Heights in Los Angeles but was demolished in 1989. The
name Googie remained as a rubric for the architectural style when
editor Douglas Haskell of "House and Home" magazine and
architectural photographer Julius Shulman were driving through
Los Angeles one day. Haskell insisted on stopping the car upon
seeing Googies and proclaimed. "This is Googie
architecture." He popularized the name after an article he
wrote appeared in a 1952 edition of House and Home magazine.
....Googie buildings were a kind of roadside attraction, and many Restaurants, Coffee Houses, Bowling Houses, Motels, Gas Stations, Conveyor Type Car Washes and Drive In Theater signs had this style. This architectural style was inspired by the Space Age and the Atomic Age, and many architects designed their Googie buildings to possess features similar to those of rocket ships. The website Space Age City might put it best: Googie often seems like a joint design by the Jetsons and the Flintstones.
....One of the best examples of this is the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. People were imagining what the future would be like, and the result was a very modern and unique design. One might describe these buildings to be Jetson-esque or futuristic because of their modern architecture and flashy designs. These buildings often have geometric or abstract shapes, zig zag roof lines, curvaceous, geometric shapes, sloping upwards roofs, exaggerated details, playful signage, flying saucer or boomerang shapes, atoms and parabolas, sharp angles, and free-form designs such as "soft" parallelograms and an artist's palette motif. Many Googie buildings have some type of rock wall on the outside or indoor gardens that were meant to represent nature, and large windows were often included that were meant to break down barriers between the inside and the outside. Googie architecture has also been called Populuxe, Doo-Wop, Coffee House Modern, Jet Age, Space Age and Chinese Modern.
....This style of building is being torn down at an alarming rate, and they are often torn down because they are too old to be considered modern, but most of them were built in the 50s and 60s, so they arent quite old enough to have historical significance either. Googie buildings are sometimes not taken seriously because of their bold designs, but they are an important part of mid-century American culture. When Googie architecture was first started, it was all about the future, and now that more time has passed, Googie architecture has lost a lot of its popularity. They are often seen as too flashy or gaudy in our modern society, and many people dont think they are worth preserving. As with the Art Deco style of the 1930s, Googie became less valued as time passed, and many buildings in this style have been destroyed. Opponents may say that Googie style buildings are important parts of our history, and that they play a role in the growth of suburbia and the car culture. These buildings represent the ideas that were popular during the mid-century era. Some examples have been preserved though, such as the oldest McDonald's stand and Johnie's Coffee Shop which were both placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
___More Googie Detail___
....Googie's beginnings are with the Streamline Moderne
architecture of the 1930s. Alan Hess, one of the most
knowledgeable writers on the subject writes in "Googie:
Ultra Modern Road Side Architecture" that mobility in Los
Angeles during the 1930s was characterized by the initial influx
of the automobile and the service industry that evolved catering
to it. With car ownership increasing, cities no longer had to be
centered on a central downtown but could spread out to the
suburbs, where business hubs could be interspersed with
residential areas. The suburbs offered less congestion by
offering the same businesses, but accessible by car. Instead of
one main store downtown, businesses now had multiple stores in
suburban areas. This new trend required owners and architects to
develop a visual imagery so customers would recognize it from the
road. This modern consumer architecture was based on
communication. This was achieved by using bold style choices,
including large pylons with elevated signs, bold neon letters and
circular pavilions. Hess writes that because of the increase in
mass production and travel during the 1930s, Streamline Moderne
became popular because of the high energy silhouettes its sleek
designs created. These buildings featured rounded edges, large
pylons and neon lights, all symbolizing, according to Hess,
"invisible forces of speed and energy", that reflect
the influx of mobility that cars, locomotives and zeppelins
brought. Streamline Moderne, much like Googie, was styled to look
futuristic to signal the beginning of a new era that of
the automobile and other technologies.
....The prosperous 1950s, however, celebrated its affluence with optimistic designs. The development of nuclear power and the reality of spaceflight captivated the publics imagination of the future. Googie architecture exploited this trend by incorporating energy into its design with elements such as the boomerang, diagonals, atomic bursts and bright colors. According to Hess, commercial architecture was influenced by the desires of the mass audience. The public was captivated by rocket ships and nuclear energy, so, in order to draw their attention, architects used these as motifs in their work. Buildings had been used to catch the attention of motorists since the invention of the car, but during the 1950s the style became more widespread.
....The identity of the first architect to practice in the style is often disputed, though Wayne McAllister was one early and influential architect in starting the style with his 1949 Bob's Big Boy restaurant in Burbank. McAllister got his start designing fashionable restaurants in Southern California which lead to a series of Streamline Moderne drive-ins during the 1930s; though he did not have formal training as an architect, he had been offered a scholarship at the architecture school at the University of Pennsylvania because of his skill. McAllister developed a brand for coffee shop chains by developing a style for each client which also allowed customers to easily recognize a store from the road. Along with McAllister, the prolific Googie architects included John Lautner, Douglas Honnold and the team of Louis Armet and Eldon Davis of Armet & Davis firm, which they founded in 1947. Also instrumental in developing the style was designer Helen Liu Fong, a member of the firm of Armet and Davis. Joining the firm during 1951, she created such Googie interiors as those of the Johnie's Coffee Shop on Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, the first Norms Restaurant, the Holiday Bowl on Crenshaw Boulevard, and the "Theme Building" at Los Angeles International Airport.
....America's interest in spaceflight had a significant influence on the unique style of Googie architecture. During the 1950s, space travel became a reality for the first time in history. During 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first human-made satellite to achieve Earth orbit. The Soviet Union then launched Vostok 1 carrying the first human, Yuri Gagarin, into Earth orbit during 1961. The Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations made competing with the Soviets for dominance in space a national priority of considerable urgency and importance. This marked the beginning of the so-called "Space Race".
....Googie style signs usually boast sharp and bold angles, which suggest the aerodynamic features of a rocket ship. Also, at the time, the unique architecture was a form of architectural expressionism, as rockets were technological novelties at the time. One famous example of Googie's legacy is the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. Other contemporary tower design philosophies were often less ornate, ranging from straight-edged steel lattice structures like the Osaka Tower and Beppu Tower in Japan, to the mixed heritage of European concrete towers like the very-visible Fernsehturm Berlin or the Fernmeldeturm Kuhkopf. A noted Canadian example of Googie architecture is the Skylon Tower, located at Niagara Falls, Ontario.
....Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. The TWA Flight Center terminal at the John F. Kennedy International Airport shows populuxe influence even while considered a mainstream classic of mid-modern public space. Cantilevered structures, acute angles, illuminated plastic paneling, freeform boomerang and artist's palette shapes and cutouts, and tailfins on buildings marked Googie architecture, which was contemptible to the architects of establishment, High Art Modernism, but had defenders during the post-Modern period at the end of the 20th century. The common elements that generally distinguish Googie from other forms of architecture are Roofs sloping at an upward angle. This is the one particular element in which architects were creating a unique structure. Many Googie style coffee shops, and other structures, have a roof that appears to be 2/3 of an inverted obtuse triangle. A great example of this is the famous, but now closed, Johnie's Coffee Shop on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. (shown below)
....Perhaps the most notable example of the starburst appears on the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign, which has now become famous. The ornamental design is in the form of, as Hess writes, "a high-energy explosion." This shape is an example of non-utilitarian design as the star shape has no actual function but merely serves as a design element. (shown below)
....The boomerang was another design element that captured
movement. It was used structurally in place of a pillar or
aesthetically as a stylized arrow. Hess writes that the boomerang
was a stylistic rendering of a directional energy field.
....Editor Douglas Haskell described the abstract Googie style, saying that "If it looks like a bird, this must be a geometric bird." Also, the buildings must appear to defy gravity, as Haskell noted: "...whenever possible, the building must hang from the sky." Haskell's third tenet for Googie was that it have more than one thememore than one structural system. Because of its need to be noticed from moving automobiles along the commercial strip, Googie was not a style noted for its subtlety.
....One of the more famous Googie buildings is the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), designed by James Langenheim of Pereira and Luckman and built during 1961.
....Another remaining example of Googie architecture still in operation is the main terminal at Washington Dulles International Airport, designed by Eero Saarinen in 1958. The terminal exemplifies the dramatic roof slope, large windows, and generous use of concrete, somewhat similar to Saarinen's TWA Flight Center.
___Googie Architecture Today ___
After the 1960s, the architectural community rarely appreciated or accepted Googie, considering it too flashy and vernacular for academic praise, and the architecture of the 1970s (especially Modernism) thus abandoned Googie. As Hess discusses, beginning during the 1970s, commercial buildings were meant to blend into the urban environment and not attract attention. Since Googie buildings were part of the service industry, most developers did not think they were worth preserving as cultural artifacts. Despite the humble origins of Googie, Hess writes that, Googie architecture is an important part of the history of suburbia. Googie was a symbol of the early days of car culture. It wasnt until the 1990s that efforts were made to conserve Googie buildings. However, by this time it was too late to save some famous landmarks such as Googies and Ships Westwood, which had already been demolished. Despite the loss of these important landmarks, other famous Googie buildings such as Pann's, Norm's, the Wich Stand and some of the original Bobs Big Boy locations have been preserved and restored.
In Wildwood, a "Doo Wop Preservation League" works with local business and property owners, city planning and zoning officials, and the state's historic preservation office to help ensure that the remaining historic structures will be preserved. Wildwood's high-rise hotel district has been the first in the USA to enforce "Doo Wop" design guidelines for new construction.
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