Monday, February 27, 2006

Googie::Atomic Fun

If I say 50s design, chances are that the images you conjure up are filled with Googie. Great name isn't it? The Googie design movement exemplified the optimism of the post-war modern period with exaggerated pop art forms. Hotels, bowling alleys, gas stations, all of these public areas displayed the exuberance of Googie. Space age themes and bold graphics are common. Googie is primarily associated with Southern California (most likely because the post-war regional boom coincided with the popularity of Googie) but examples are found all over the country. The Seattle Space Needle may be the singlemost identifiable Googie landmark.

Utah has its own Googie landmarks. I was in driving to Park City a month ago and captured this image on my way through Heber.

Mac's Motel has kept the original sign although the surrounding buildings have been updated. Several iconographic Googie motifs are featured in the sign. The boomerang shape is typically Googie, as are the bright colors.

In this photo you can see the pink neon of the sign as well as the green neon of the accent. Neon in bright colors is particularly Googie. If you look closely you can tell that the green neon is only one circle of an atom, a definite Googie giveaway. Swooping cantilevered rooflines, atomic/sputnik symbols, boomerangs, playful lettering, neon, saturated bright colors like pink, aqua, blues, and greens, are all hallmarks of the style.

Sadly, many Googie sites have fallen into disrepair. The Hillcrest Motel on south State Street in Orem is one such example. Located on the corner of 1700 South, the motel will probably be demolished soon. The oval/organic shape of the lettered sign is another typically Googie look. Organic leaf shapes are a modern take on incorporating natural elements into a design that essentially celebrates the man made. The offset lettering is also indicative of Googie. The "Motel" would have been lit by a hundred small lightbulbs made to mimic neon. Look at the design on the doors, the diamond shape carrying the Googie feel in every detail of the motel.

There's no question that this motel will be gone soon. The windows have been broken or removed, the interiors are damaged and uninhabitable. Be sure to drive past to appreciate the architecture before this faded Googie landmark is gone forever.

Roadsidepeek has assembled some great pictures of Utah Googie bowling alleys. Included is Jack & Jill Bowling in American Fork. If you have a chance, visit Lindon's only bowling alley on State Street right before Los Hermanos for a gorgeously preserved Googie bowling experience.

For more fun examples of preserved googie click here.

1 comment:

Charles G said...

Sad! :(

I love Chris Jespen's site too!

I just wrote a blog entry about Googie architecture. You might want to check it out.