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Houston Googie?


lgg

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An L.A. Times story today --

L.A. Googie tour

-- offered a tour of Los Angeles' wildest mod architecture. (Don't miss the photo gallery.)

Googie's all Space Age exuberance -- flashy, trashy and low-brow. I love them, and I was wondering whether I could dredge up enough examples to write a Houston tour for the Chron. (I'm tired of writing building obituaries; would rather lavish a little love on them while they're still around.)

So: Any favorites out there? Folded roofs? swoopy facades?

Any great bowling alleys? signs? service stations?

My starting list:

The Penguin Arms

Dot coffee shop, in front of Gulfgate

A great river-rock carwash in Pasadena -- I'll have to drive by for the name and address

Would you count the Neuhaus & Taylor office building at 3323 Richmond Ave. -- the flashy white one on stilts, above its own parking lot, with the fab '60s eyebrow overhangs? And did other cities put mid-century office buildings on stilts, to shade their own parking lots?

Can there be such a thing as a Googie church? And if so, would you count Park Place Baptist, at 4101 Broadway?

What about a Googie bank? like the white one on Washington, across Yale from the Social?

And isn't there a flying saucer of a building somewhere in the Fifth Ward?

I guess I might count the old Pig Stand on Washington. Although it's been de-pigged, it still has that great, swoopy Coffee Shop lettering.

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Can there be such a thing as a Googie church? And if so, would you count Park Place Baptist, at 4101 Broadway?

Is this the church on the way to Glenbrook Valley from the Highway? If so, I think it has to be the Googiest church going.

Maybe someone with an older knowledge of Meyerland can answer this. There is a Mexican place next to Belden's called El Ranchero that my wife and I agree must have had a previous life as a Googie diner. It has all been covered up now but there are enough hints that I think we are right.

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Yes -- that's the flying saucer. Doesn't look as Googie as I remembered.... is it me or the aerial photo?

What church is that?

I remember watching a round church being built on the northeast side of town, off of Hwy 59 & another freeway (maybe the loop 610), you could see it from the freeway. Took many years to finish it. Remember seeing the rusty frame for years, caught my eye as a kid. I was surprised & happy to see it finally completed. Believe that is the picture of it. The googie church across the bayou from Glenbrook is cool, it is bigger than the one in the pic.

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Yes -- that's the flying saucer. Doesn't look as Googie as I remembered.... is it me or the aerial photo

What church is that?

I remember watching a round church being built on the northeast side of town, off of Hwy 59 & another freeway (maybe the loop 610), you could see it from the freeway. Took many years to finish it. Remember seeing the rusty frame for years, caught my eye as a kid. I was surprised & happy to see it finally completed. Believe that is the picture of it. The googie church across the bayou from Glenbrook is cool, it is bigger than the one in the pic.

This is Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church on the northwest corner of 59 at I-10.

Here is some original Googie from Baytown. This was originally a Whataburger built in the 1950's. Eh, all I could do was make a link. Make sure you click on Bird's Eye View and zoom in.

http://www.har.com/MapSearch/dispMapView.c...Y&siteType=

Interesting. There are lots of new Whataburgers being built with that retro A-frame design. Not, of course, with the car-service awning.

Is this the church on the way to Glenbrook Valley from the Highway? If so, I think it has to be the Googiest church going.

Maybe someone with an older knowledge of Meyerland can answer this. There is a Mexican place next to Belden's called El Ranchero that my wife and I agree must have had a previous life as a Googie diner. It has all been covered up now but there are enough hints that I think we are right.

Wasn't there a Kip's Big Boy with big ol' Googie river boulders over there? On Bellaire, or Braeswood, or something?

I found a thread about them:

http://www.houstonarchitecture.info/haif/i...?showtopic=2001

Edited by marmer
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Would you count the Neuhaus & Taylor office building at 3323 Richmond Ave. -- the flashy white one on stilts, above its own parking lot, with the fab '60s eyebrow overhangs? And did other cities put mid-century office buildings on stilts, to shade their own parking lots?

I don't think so. I asked about those (there are a whole row of them) and was told they are inspired by Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier:

link

I think that pre-dates the "googie" category.

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GREAT Googie Church: Spring Branch Baptist (?) Corner of Long Point and Campbell - folded plate roof on one building on the LongPoint side - as of a few months ago it was for sale

Googie Apartments: 'Marquee West' on McCue, north of Westheimer. Classic design, terrazzo public entry, original swoopy lettering on the front. Also, the RoyalGate Aparments at 1711 Gessner on West side - brown&white volcanic rock exterior, interlocking metal circles balconies, interesting angles.

Googie Gas Station (now a car lot): corner of Long Point and Gessner. Another one that is vacant: corner of Westview and Witte

Googie condos: 'Hillside', on North side of Memorial just West of Shepherd

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I think the old Googie carwash on 45 south finally got torn down.

It was torn down a few years ago. There was also a beautiful blue-tiled, 1960's dentist office bldg. rt. by the carwash/gas station. They recently covered/messed most of it up with that hardi-plank stuff. What a shame. You can still see the tile work on the ends of the bldg. Those tiny tiles. Shades of blue. How depressing, hopefully they are still underneath.

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I don't think so. I asked about those (there are a whole row of them) and was told they are inspired by Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier:

I think that pre-dates the "googie" category.

The two aren't mutually exclusive. Those eyebrow windows are pure Googie.

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The two aren't mutually exclusive. Those eyebrow windows are pure Googie.

Is there a generally agreed upon definition for "googie"? I'm not that familiar with the term. The article linked in the first post seems to say it originated in the US in the 1950s.

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Is there a generally agreed upon definition for "googie"? I'm not that familiar with the term. The article linked in the first post seems to say it originated in the US in the 1950s.

Per Wikipedia:

Googie, also known as populuxe or doo-wop, is a subdivision of futurist architecture, influenced by car culture and the Space Age and Atomic Age, originating from Southern California in the late 1940s and continuing approximately into the mid-1960s. The types of buildings that were most frequently designed in a Googie style were motels, coffee houses and bowling alleys.

Features of Googie include upswept roofs, curvaceous, geometric shapes, and bold use of glass, steel and neon. Googie was also characterized by space-age designs that depict motion, such as boomerangs, flying saucers, atoms and parabolas, and free-form designs such as "soft" parallelograms and the ubiquitous artist's-palette motif. These stylistic conventions reflected American society's emphasis on futuristic designs and fascination with Space Age themes.

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I don't think so. I asked about those (there are a whole row of them) and was told they are inspired by Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier:

I think that pre-dates the "googie" category.

Probably true, but I thought the Guide said that Neuhaus and Taylor were responsible for creating and popularizing the concept of office buildings on stilts over their own parking lots. Even if the original inspiration came from Le Corbusier.

Not strictly Googie, but well worth a second look: the First Church of Christ, Scientist, downtown:

http://www.houstonarchitecture.info/haif/i...mode=linearplus

Edited by dbigtex56
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Here is some good NEW Googie !

1252954720_7dbbe6d1e1.jpg

The Penguin Arms on Revere.

81782393_1183d1a7bf.jpg

Obvious

81349251_3f6bf3d7b9.jpg

Apparently this is Downtown somewhere, anyone know WHERE ?

66979395_e3b871bea4.jpg

Hmmmmm.....

81371195_f4debe0412.jpg

Most of these came from flickr, and we actually have a few peeps on this forum that either lurk or are involved from time to time in the discussions. If any of these are your pics. Thanks for taking them, and you deserve full credit. I took NONE of these pics.

Edited by TJones
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Per Wikipedia:

Googie, also known as populuxe or doo-wop, is a subdivision of futurist architecture, influenced by car culture and the Space Age and Atomic Age, originating from Southern California in the late 1940s and continuing approximately into the mid-1960s. The types of buildings that were most frequently designed in a Googie style were motels, coffee houses and bowling alleys.

Features of Googie include upswept roofs, curvaceous, geometric shapes, and bold use of glass, steel and neon. Googie was also characterized by space-age designs that depict motion, such as boomerangs, flying saucers, atoms and parabolas, and free-form designs such as "soft" parallelograms and the ubiquitous artist's-palette motif. These stylistic conventions reflected American society's emphasis on futuristic designs and fascination with Space Age themes.

The term 'Googie' was coined from the architectural style of a coffeeshop built in LA named (surprise) 'Googies', which apparently originated this kitchschy style of architecture in about 1949. The coffeeshop is long gone, but its legacy lives on ....

Anyone interested in this architectural style should pick up the book 'Googie Redux' - it's pretty current and full of pictures of the buildings and affectations (like the 'dingbats') that go hand in hand with this style.

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What on earth is that saddle-backed building? And where is it?

***

Also: Is the Astrodome Googie on a grand scale? It definitely has the space-age vibe.

1) That is a gynasium somewhere I beleive on the northside of town.

2) Yes , as this upclose pic of the outside will attest.

attourentrance.jpg

Edited by TJones
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What on earth is that saddle-backed building? And where is it?

That is the fieldhouse at HISD's Delmar Stadium, 2020 Mangum. Near where 290 splits off northwest from the 610 Loop.

Yes, the Astrodome would count as Googie, too, I think.

Edited by marmer
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This is a new term for me.

Would Saarinen's TWA be considered "googie?"

Not really...Saarinen kind of carved out his own niche during his career. Googie is more associated with restaurants, coffee shops and hotels. I believe it was started by L.A. coffee shops.

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That is the fieldhouse at HISD's Delmar Stadium, 2020 Mangum. Near where 290 splits off northwest from the 610 Loop.

Yes, the Astrodome would count as Googie, too, I think.

The Meadowcreek Park has a structure similar to the "saddleback" stadium, much smaller scale. Neat, nonetheless.

The structure on Bellfort that Marmer mentioned is listed in one of the Houston Architectural Guides.

Edited by NenaE
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The Meadowcreek Park has a structure similar to the "saddleback" stadium, much smaller scale. Neat, nonetheless.

Is that this little guy?

meadowcreek.jpg

The structure on Bellfort that Marmer mentioned is listed in one of the Houston Architectural Guides.

Yes it is.

"(1966) Arthur D. Steinberg

This is one of the zaniest buildings in Houston. As if the warped penthouse weren't enough, the building is faced with green aggregate precast concrete panels and gold anodized aluminum mullions."

The Delmar Field House is also mentioned:

"(1958) Milton McGinty

The thin-shell paraboloid roof canopy of this gymnasium represents a comparatively rare local use of a technology that was quite popular in American architecture during the late 1950s and early 1960s."

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Unfortunately googie in Houston is a little thin on the ground, which is a bit surprising considering how we boomed during that period. To me the best local examples are the Church of Christ Scientist on Main downtown and the old car wash off the Gulf Freeway. Another googie-ish one is the church off Broadway near the Gulf Freeway that has a rocket-like steeple. Eyebrows notwithstanding, the office buildings on Richmond strike me as too formalistic to be very googie. Googie always implied a bit of exuberance they seem to lack. The Astrodome has nice pylons, but as a whole I would make the same point that it lacks the exuberance of googie. I like it, but overall it is a very staid composition. I would call it MCM and leave it at that. Googie has to be defined a little more narrowly than that.

There was also a beautiful blue-tiled, 1960's dentist office bldg. rt. by the carwash/gas station. They recently covered/messed most of it up with that hardi-plank stuff. What a shame. You can still see the tile work on the ends of the bldg. Those tiny tiles. Shades of blue. How depressing, hopefully they are still underneath.

Turquoise buildings! My strange obsession! :wub:

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To me the best local examples are the Church of Christ Scientist on Main downtown

Damn, Subdude! Beat me to it.

Exuberant though the Christ Scientist building may be, does it qualify as Googie? I was hesitant to name it as such, because it has a certain dignity not usually associated with Googie architecture.

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I mentioned it in post 19 above, and, though it's a spectacular example of mid-century "contemporary" architecture, I don't think it qualifies as Googie, either. Too serious and dignified. I would say the same for most of the other churches mentioned here, too. The 59 Diner on the Katy freeway, now, THAT was Googie!

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KRIV Fox 26's location on the Southwest Freeway looks a little neo-Googie-ish:

y1pYQUv23ZU2mwPJAgmeRsmSSj5H0kJHNX0.jpg

I need to go back by the retail development under construction on Pearland Parkway at BW-8. It has some interesting upswept roofs and color treatments, but I can't find a pic online.

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KRIV Fox 26's location on the Southwest Freeway looks a little neo-Googie-ish:

I need to go back by the retail development under construction on Pearland Parkway at BW-8. It has some interesting upswept roofs and color treatments, but I can't find a pic online.

That is one building I have always liked. It does a great job of capturing a lot of 1950s touches while still appearing modern. The window treatment strikes me as similar to Memorial Hermann and some other buildings at the Medical Center.

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There are several of these types of buildings on Dowling street, see em before they tear em down!

and way over on Lyon's Ave in near north East downtown off of Lockwood. Just love Googie :P

Anybody followed up on Vert's post to check those out? I'm thinking there might be more in areas which haven't seen substantial redevelopment since the early '60s.

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Cool. I have a collection of turquoise building pictures myself. That was the color of mod.

1964 NYC World's Fair's offical colors were turquoise and orange.

At the time, the height of fashion for interior decoration was all black and white, with either an orange or turquoise accent.

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Anybody followed up on Vert's post to check those out? I'm thinking there might be more in areas which haven't seen substantial redevelopment since the early '60s.

These "unspoken areas" is where you will find remnants of the past. City decided to build in other directions so these oldies but goodies remained. Luck of the draw. Head north on Jensen Drive and discover more. :)

I personally always wanted to live in the Jetson's Home - Super Googie to us kiddies!

jetsons.jpg

Edited by Vertigo58
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There was a gas station like that in Friendswood that was torn down a year or so ago. I think it was a Texaco. Sure looks like there were a bunch of those -- wonder if they were all the same oil company and built about the same time?

KCOH's building on Almeda Road is kinda neat, with its octagonal blue glass bay. KCOH Studio

By the way, I found a new copy of _Googie Redux_ by Alan Hess at Half Price Books in Pearland for ten bucks when they opened earlier this year. There may be copies at other locations. As others have posted, it's highly recommended. I'm a little surprised how broadly the author defines Googie. There is a photo glossary at the back of the book of Googie elements such as folded plate roofs, eaves, and structural steel columns.

And, as an aside to LGG, I wonder if you widened the focus slightly to include "Atomic" or "Space Age" architecture if you could find enough interesting material to make a story without limiting it strictly to Googie. That would let you pick up the churches, athletic venues, etc. Just a thought -- you're the pro. :)

Edited by marmer
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I want to say there is a sister to that gas station on Washington, it is a car sales lot or a car window tint place.

Ultimate Googie, this is the inside of a Sambo's, now defunct, restaurant. We had one of these in Clear Lake close to the Space Center. We have talked about it before on here, but THIS is very special.

homepage_shot.jpg

Here are some people enjoying the Googieness, circa 1967.

11-4-04.jpg

Edited by TJones
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I think those were Phillips 66 gas stations.

A nice little example is the restaurant (Dennys?) on the Gulf Freeway at Gulfgate. Another term for googie is after all "coffee shop modern".

In addition to the Googie books, another classic reference to design at that time is Populuxe by Thomas Hine.

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