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What Is Googie Architecture?


Mel's Drive In, Universal Studios, Florida

Googie architecture is recreated at Mel's Drive In, Universal Studios, Florida. See a larger view

Photo © Jackie Craven

Googie describes a futuristic, often flashy, building style that evolved in the United States during the 1950s. Often used for restaurants, motels, bowling alleys, and assorted roadside businesses, Googie architecture was designed to attract customers.

Googie Features

Reflecting high-tech space-age ideas, the Googie style grew out of the Streamline Moderne, or Art Moderne, architecture of the 1930s. As in Streamline Moderne architecture, Googie buildings are made with glass and steel. However, Googie buildings are deliberately flashy. Typical Googie details include:

  • Flashing lights and neon signs
  • Boomerang and palette shapes
  • Starburst shapes
  • Atom motifs
  • Flying saucer shapes
  • Sharp angles and trapezoid shapes
  • Zig-zag roof-lines

Where to Find Googie Architecture

Googie has its roots in the mid-century modern architecture of southern California. The word Googie comes from Googie's, a Los Angeles coffee shop designed by architect John Lautner. However, Googie ideas can be found on commercial buildings in other parts of the country, most noticeably in the Doo Wop architecture of Wildwood, New Jersey.

Other names for Googie

  • Coffee House Modern
  • Doo Wop
  • Populuxe
  • Space Age
  • Leisure Architecture

Googie Architects

  • John Lautner
  • Eldon Davis
  • Martin Stern, Jr.
  • Wayne McAllister—see The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister by Chris Nichols (2007)
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Related Stlyes

Googie is just one type of Roadside Architecture that evolved after World War II when Americans began to spend more time in cars. Other types of American Roadside Architecture include:

Is mid-20th century architecture historic? Share your views!

Common Misspellings: Googie should not be confused with the Internet search engine Google. Other misspellings: Goggie, Googy, Goggy
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