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The Crazy Architecture of Southern California

Southern California is home to the movie capital of the world. Creativity and imagination is what inspires our culture and our economy. The environment of make-believe allows entrepreneurial spirits to create environments and products that allow us to get lost in our imaginations. These inspirations could not be lost on the architectural world in our region. A British traveler noted after a visit to Southern California in the 1930’s that either “we had lost our minds or he had stumbled into a fantasy universe.” So was the influence of mimetic architecture in Southern California.

The practice of mimetic architecture, also known as novelty or programmatic architecture, is a style of building design popularized in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. It is characterized by unusual building designs that mimic the purpose or function of the building, or the product it is associated with. Mimetic architecture was particularly popular between the 1920s and 1950s, as cars became widespread and freeways were built across America. Some roadside architecture started to be seen as a means for advertising to passing cars. For example, a roadside restaurant might be designed in the shape of a giant hot dog, a coffee shop in the shape of a coffee pot, or a fruit stand in the shape of a piece of fruit.

“If, when you went shopping, you found you could buy cakes in a windmill, ices in a gigantic cream-can, flowers in a huge flowerpot, you might begin to wonder whether you had not stepped through a looking glass or taken a toss down a rabbit burrow and could expect Mad Hatter or White Queen to appear round the next corner.”

British tourist visiting LA, 1930’s

From the iconic Brown Derby, to the numerous wigwam hotels that dotted the region, to giant donuts, ice cream and hotdogs, Southern California have been replete with some of the finest examples of mimetic architecture. While none of these buildings were terribly important in the historical value of the region, others were iconic landmarks that will remain etched in our historical memories and evoke the culture and feel of the Southern California lifestyle.

From the ADG Jobsite

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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting

 

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radical architecture, American architecture

Radical Architecture Inspired by a Radical Culture

“Seeing architecture differently from the way you see the rest of life is a bit weird. I believe one should be consistent in all that one does, from the books you read to the way you bring up your children. Everything you do is connected. “

~David Chipperfield

 The Apollo 11 lands on the moon. The LGBT community celebrates the first Gay Liberation Day. Hippies celebrate the culture of peace and love across the country and demonstrate against an unpopular war.  The civil rights movement reaches a crescendo. A great president and a powerful civil rights leader are senselessly slain.

These are just some of the monumental events of the 1960s and 1970s that will forever shape the way we look at the radical culture of the time.  Those cultural events influenced every part of American life and we have felt their impact up through current times. One of the most significant areas of culture impacted by the 1960s and 1970s was in radical architecture.

One of the most celebrated minds of the radical architecture period was architect and scientist Buckminster Fuller. He was an American engineer, architect, and futurist who developed the geodesic dome—the only large dome that can be set directly on the ground as a complete structure and the only practical kind of building that has no limiting dimensions. Given the complicated geometry of the geodesic dome, dome builders rely on tables of strut lengths, or chord factors. Tables of chord factors, the essential design information for spherical systems, were for many years guarded like military secrets.

Fuller Geodome 

Other notable inventions and developments by Fuller included a system of cartography that presents all the land areas of the world without significant distortion; die-stamped prefabricated bathrooms; tetrahedronal floating cities; underwater geodesic-domed farms; and expendable paper domes. Fuller did not regard himself as an inventor or an creature of radical architecture. All of his developments, in his view, were accidental or interim incidents in a strategy that aimed at a radical solution of world problems by finding the means to do more with less.

From The ADG Jobsite

Another great collaboration with Shain Development featuring our #297 Barstock Iron Light Modern Lantern. 
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by Gerald Olesker, CEO, ADG Lighting
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Nature Architecture: Traditions Steeped in Japanese Architecture

The line between nature and architecture is a blurred one in Japan. The country’s leading architects are using this concept to create innovative and cutting edge designs.

While the designs are innovative, they have their origins in a tradition, which are deeply rooted in Japanese culture. The practice of architecture in Japan has always been to work in harmony with the natural surroundings. Buildings are built around trees, in trees and as trees.

Japanese Architecture in Harmony With Nature

Organic architecture is a philosophy of architecture which promotes harmony between human habitation and the natural world. It is achieved through design approaches that aim to be sympathetic and well-integrated with a site, so buildings, furnishings, and surroundings become part of a unified, interrelated composition.

 

 

With an indigenous religious sensibility that long preceded Buddhism, the Japanese perceived that a spiritual realm was manifest in nature. Rock outcroppings, waterfalls, and gnarled old trees were viewed as the abodes of spirits and were understood as their personification. This belief system endowed much of nature with numinous qualities. It nurtured, in turn, a sense of proximity to and intimacy with the world of spirit as well as a trust in nature’s general benevolence.

The symmetry of Chinese-style temple plans gave way to asymmetrical layouts that followed the specific contours of hilly and mountainous topography in Japan. The borders existing between structures and the natural world were deliberately obscure. Elements such as long verandas and multiple sliding panels offered constant vistas on nature — although that nature was often carefully arranged and fabricated rather than wild and real.

From the ADG Job Site

Our gigantic mercury ball triple threat pendant!

ADG 600

by ADG Lighting