SoCal 'Googie World Expo'

Two-day MCM architectural extravaganza opens with speakers, exhibition and tour
Fridays on the Homefront
'Googie World Expo,' the new two-day Southern California event that opens Sunday November 13, connects visitors with experts of the popular postwar style represented in California's modern coffee shops, neon signs, and bowling centers of the postwar. Above: Pann's Coffee Shop, Los Angeles. All color photos: John Eng

Come one, come all—to the Googie World Expo!

Architects, historians, preservationists, and Expo-goers will be heading to Southern California, beginning this weekend, for an exciting celebration of that most innovative of mid-century architectural styles—'Googie' architecture.

The two-day Expo, which opens Sunday (November 13), connects visitors with experts of the popular postwar style that put the 'fabulous' in California's modern coffee shops, neon signs, and bowling centers.

Northern California folks may be familiar with the style by way of such distinctive buildings as the former Lyon's Coffee Shop, in San Bruno, and the classic boomerang-style Denny's restaurants designed by Los Angeles architects Louis Armet and Eldon Davis, masters of the genre.

  Fridays on the Homefront
Celebrating 'Googie World Expo.' Illustration: Josh Agle AKA Shag

Expo part one takes place this Sunday at the Valley Relics Museum in Van Nuys. Part two is on Sunday, November 20, and invites guests to board a luxury motor coach, curated by historian Chris Nichols, for a tour of Googie architecture designed by Armet and Davis.

Captivated by Googie from the time he was a teenager, Nichols, a longtime Los Angeles preservationist and Googie expert, today is the organizer of the Expo.

"I read [architect and author] Alan Hess's Googie book when I was in high school, and have been working to preserve this rare and unusual architecture for decades," he says.

Expo day one features presentations and book signings by Googie authors and experts, including Hess, who wrote the seminal Googie book back in 1986.

Fridays on the Homefront
Pioneering Googie architects Eldon Davis (left) and Louis Armet (right) of the firm Armet and Davis, with a model of the Huddle restaurant. Photo courtesy archives of Armet Davis Newlove

"Alan Hess is, of course, the hero of the whole movement," says Nichols. "He'll be showing his new book [Googie Modern] with Michael Murphy that showcases the incredible architectural renderings that Armet and Davis made for their clients."

"I'm excited about all of it…" added Nichols, including the appearance of Don Hahn, Disney legend and Academy Award-winning filmmaker, and author of the book Yesterday's Tomorrow: Disney's Magical Mid-Century, who will present an in-depth view of how Walt Disney and his artists influenced mid-century style and culture.

Historian Jennifer Marmilliod will take attendees behind the scenes as she shares her experiences working on the restoration of the 1956 landmark Covina Bowl, now part of a new residential community in West Covina.

Fridays on the Homefront
Former Lyon's Restaurant, San Bruno. Rendering courtesy archives of Armet Davis Newlove

Also on the Expo roster is historian John English, who will discuss the major architectural contributions of Helen Liu Fong, one of the first Chinese-American women architects.

Mid-century automobile design will be the subject of the presentation by Jeff Stork and Tom Dolle, authors of the new book Glamour Road.

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