Space Age Architect

Eldon Davis, whose 1950s, Space Age coffee shop designs undoubtedly inspired the artists behind The Jetsons — well, at least as much as Frank R. Paul, Frank Lloyd Wright, Disneyland and the Capitol Record building — has died at the age of 94.

The Los Angeles Times obituary tells about a prototypical example of his work:

Built on La Cienega Boulevard in 1957, Norms had many features that came to typify the whimsical style of architecture known as Googie — a vaulted roof that resembles a flying wing, a room-length dining counter and an attention-grabbing vertical neon sign with roots in Las Vegas kitsch.

The Times added. “With their soaring and exaggerated roof lines, [these] buildings appeared to defy gravity, a structural innovation for which Davis was largely responsible.”

Athough he didn’t invent the style his work made it ubiquitous.

LASFSians were intimately familiar with this whole genre of California coffee shops. In the 1970s when the club met at Palms Park on Overland Ave., members went to Ship’s and a progression of other places for after-meetings. They’d eventually be asked not to return due to their eccentric, demanding and low-tipping ways — that’s how they became familiar with so many different ones.

Davis displayed a delightfully iconoclastic attitude when asked about saving examples of his architecture for the future:

“I can’t see why they’d try to preserve any of them,” he told The Times in 1986. “We would have liked to have made them more aesthetic, but we were just designing them to sell hamburgers.”

The Times photogallery about Davis’ and his designs is here.

Ship’s in Westwood

Update 04/27/2011: Corrected name of Park where LASFS met.

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