Googie Architecture Is What?

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Answer: A Form of Modern Architecture

Drive across America, especially in the southwest and west coast regions, and you’re bound to see some motels, gas stations, and diners that look like they’re right out of the golden age of the Space Race. These structures, featuring upswept rooflines, pronounced curves, geometric shapes, and heavy use of glass, steel, and neon lighting are examples of Googie Architecture: an architectural movement that started in the late 1940s in Southern California, gained traction throughout the 1950s, and lasted well into the mid-1960s.

The name is derived from the Googies coffee shop in West Hollywood; the coffee shop was constructed in 1949 based on the designs of architect John Lautner. The distinct futuristic style of the coffee shop caught the eye of House and Home editor Douglas Haskell who featured the design prominently in his magazine and coined the term “Googie Architecture.” From there the style caught the eye of designers across America, and in true Atomic Age style with an eye toward the future, buildings with shimmering glass and steel shells cropped up everywhere.

Although the original Googies was demolished in 1989, the architectural style lives on and can be seen everywhere from tiny roadside diners to large scale construction projects like the Anaheim Convention Center. One of the most widely recognized Googie-influenced designs in the world is the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, pictured here.