Monday, June 29

67 year-old doughnut

It crosses my mind every time I see it: why is there a giant dooughnut off the 405 freeway?

Programmatic or Mimic architecture was a design movement in the 1920's-1950's influenced by the growing car culture of Southern California and its unofficial title as home of all things cinematic. In an effort to reach an audience on the expanding number of freeways, buildings were designed with or as larger-than-life forms of caricatures, household objects or the food sold. Nicknamed "California Crazy," these buildings included a real estate office that looked like the Sphinx, a restaurant shaped like a hat and a hot dog stand shaped like, well, a giant hot dog. Hence the Randy's Donuts structure. Sadly, development has taken its toll on many of these figures in the landscape, which have now either been demolished or are in storage, whatever that means for a building.

If you'd like to see more, Jim Heinmann has compiled an interesting history of this style in his book California Crazy and Beyond: Roadside Vernacular. Laist also has a really good series of short writings on the history of Los Angeles, including the Ambassador Hotel (where the Cocoanut Grove was located and in whose kitchen Robert Kennedy was shot.)

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