An Americana expert and preservationist weigh in on midcentury landmarks


Every Monday, @dwell and @designmilk invite experts and fans to weigh in on trending topics in design. Americana expert Charles Phoenix and Adrian Scott Fine of the Los Angeles Conservancy joined #ModernMonday this week to discuss America’s quirky midcentury heritage. Check out a few of our favorite responses, and use the hashtag #ModernMonday to join the conversation next week at 1pm EST / 10am PST.

How would you describe the kitschy American aesthetic of the midcentury era? Any favorite landmarks?

@LAConservancy: I actually would call it legitimate Modernism, on par with Case Study Houses

Why were bold colors and shapes in architecture so popular in the 50s and 60s? Will that style ever return? 

@LAConservancy: It’s all about car culture and “stand-out” design that was intended to attract passing motorists, calling them to stop

What’s the future for midcentury landmarks around the US? Can they be saved from demolition? 

@_charlesphoenix: Norms LA 1957. Preservation cry was deafening after a demolition permit was pulled on this iconic Googie coffee shop.

What’s the best way to preserve and renovate these icons so they can still be used today?

@LAConservancy: Have an open mind, be willing to look for creative solutions and reuse options, rather than the knee jerk demolition option

How does style differe across various regions of the US?

@LAConservancy: Different variations across the country but every place — large and small — has Modernism worth saving and reusing.

What are the similarities between retro style and the present-day American aesthetic? 

@_charlesphoenix: Retro style has become classic USA style.



Charles Phoenix will discuss Space Age Los Angeles architecture and Adrian Scott Fine will address the importance of preserving iconic midcentury buildings on Sunday, May 31 at Dwell on Design.

Originally submitted by Luke Hopping