Gloomy Outlook for Googie Landmark

A sign taped to the window of this quirky dry cleaners in Cherry Creek is the writing on the wall: "Application for Determination of Non Historic Status".  The land under the building is worth far more than the building itself in the developer's mind, and the block will soon have one more of the tower cranes that dot Cherry Creek North in it's race to resemble Manhattan.  And we'll lose another building from our more recent past.



This round building with the swooping parabolic roof was built in the late 50's or early 60's, and is quite representative of the "Googie" style of modern architecture, a futuristic architecture influenced by the car culture, jet airplanes, and the space age.  It originated in Southern California after WW2, when architects like John Lautner realized that the public was moving past the landscape at a much faster pace due to the automobile, and they needed buildings that could be"read " instantly for what they were.  So Googie style became the rage for car oriented building types like diners, gas stations, and motels.

The original McDonalds, with its giant golden arches, is classic Googie. In Denver,  Bastiens Steakhouse on Colfax, Sam's #3 at 1500 Curtis, and the Sleeper House by Charles Deaton, are all classic Googie, as was the I.M. Pei hyperbolic paraboloid in front of the May D& F, torn down in 1996. Influenced by the Streamline Moderne style of the 1930's, this style exploited upswept roofs, curves, and use of glass walls with aluminum and steel.

I'm just finishing my three year term on the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission, and one thing I've noticed is that we give most of our attention to pre war architecture, with little recognition of distinctive buildings from the 50's forward.  My fear is that until momentum builds towards appreciation of great designs from the 50's, 60's, 70's and newer, we will have lost most of them, like this one.  Is this building unique? No, I can show you a twin on West Jewell in Lakewood, and there are probably others I haven't found, but it was one of a kind where it was, in the upscale Cherry Creek neighborhood, and I'll miss it when it's gone.