In Architecture, Travel by Lenore NewmanLeave a Comment

I’ve posted before about my fondness here before for Googie Architecture. This style sums up the optimism of the 1950’s with sweeping rooflines, cartoonish signage, and interesting blurring of inside and outside. I was hoping to spot some interesting Googie buildings in LA, which is where the style really began. However many of these structures are now gone, as they were often roadside restaurants, offices, and other ethereal elements of the urban fabric.

I was very happy to stumble across Pann’s coffee shop by accident. Pann’s is probably the best remaining example of the googie style, and so I had to stop. If LA were to be represented by a single building, for me this would be the one. Pann’s is LA’s Empire State.

One of the most interesting things about this building is how the tropical plants are used as an extension of the architecture. They frame the building and are clearly visible from inside through the large glass windows. The effect is that of being on a small island in a sea of pavement. Inside the decor is pure glorious diner. The rough exposed rock brings the outside, and the plush stools are pure 50’s lounge. They do serve food along with the architecture, so I ordered a coffee and a slice of pie.

Natural light highlights the original fixtures inside

Natural light highlights the original fixtures inside

I enjoyed spending some time in Pann’s and the experience made me think about the incredible lack of mid century heritage in Vancouver. We are rapidly recycling almost every scrap of land in our city, and if places like Pann’s once existed (and I know there were some good examples of googie style in Vancouver) they are now long gone. Has anyone seen a lonely googie survivor amid the grey glass of our landscape?


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