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The history behind LA's exuberant Googie architecture




The iconic Norms Restaurant building on La Cienega in West Hollywood, which had been threatened with demolition. The structure, which is a classic example of mid-century Googie architecture, was designated a historical and cultural monument by the City Council this week.
The iconic Norms Restaurant building on La Cienega in West Hollywood, which had been threatened with demolition. The structure, which is a classic example of mid-century Googie architecture, was designated a historical and cultural monument by the City Council this week.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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This week, fans of mid-century architecture in L.A. breathed a huge sigh of relief, after the City Council voted to make Norm's Restaurant in West Hollywood a cultural and historical monument.

The 24-hour eatery on La Cienega Boulevard is an eye-catching example of a lively architectural style known as Googie that became popular in the 1950s. Optimistic and exuberant, the style features space-age jagged roofs and striking street signage designed to the grab the attention of the growing number of motorists on the streets.

Googie architecture became unfashionable in the 70s and 80s, but has had a renaissance in recent years, due largely to boosters like Chris Nichols from L.A. Conservancy, who has been leading a campaign to preserve these iconic buildings.

Dwell on Design L.A. will be hosting an event on May 31 dedicated to the battle over Norm's preservation. L.A. Conservancy's Adrian Scott Fine and noted Googie historian Alan Hess will be discussing the importance of Googie architecture Thursday at the L.A. Convention Center.