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Denny's Saved by Googie
March 15, 2008 11:18 AM   Subscribe

A recent decision by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board has saved an abandoned Denny's restaurant from the wrecking ball. On closer inspection the restaurant represents Googie-style architecture which was considered futuristic in the 60's. Granted it's not on par with the future of today. But there are some appealing offshoots in North West modernist designs. (Googie previously here).
posted by lightweight (42 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Try my Googie-Googie!
- Michael Scott, The Office

posted by porn in the woods at 12:43 PM on March 15, 2008


Holy hell, those Chinese structures are amazing, regardless of whether they are built or not yet. With 2008 listed as the planned completion date for some I have to imagine that they are more than just architectural fantasy.

Neat post all around, thanks.
posted by Stunt at 12:43 PM on March 15, 2008


I guess it's a nice gesture and all, but Seattle's march toward generic architectural mediocrity is a sad, sad thing.

If I remember correctly that was the only Denny's in the area with cocktails.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:58 PM on March 15, 2008


I guess it's a nice gesture and all, but Seattle's march toward generic architectural mediocrity is a sad, sad thing.

I wonder when the pink elephant will go. I keep hearing rumbles about it being sold and scrapped from locals.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:09 PM on March 15, 2008


Few in Seattle lament the loss of another unusually shaped restaurant called simply "The Blob".
posted by Tube at 1:22 PM on March 15, 2008


I guess it's a nice gesture and all, but Seattle's march toward generic architectural mediocrity is a sad, sad thing.

As much as I loved the place (its vistas, its terrain, and yes, even its weather), I will always remember Seattle's architecture as being butt ugly. Hideous, disposable apartment buildings built for the 1964 World's Fair and Boeing employees that were never disposed of, non-descript 70s/80s glass box buildings downtown, and grim, cookie-cutter McMansions on treeless lots in its eastern suburbs.

When you compare it to its closest neighbors, it pales in comparison to Portland's cozy, small city west coast charm, as well as to Vancouver's ultra-modern city of the 21st century look. About the only thing positive thing you can say about its constructions is that it does kitsch really well (the Pink Elephant, the Space Needle, the Freemont Troll, Twin Teepees and so on). Other than the new library (fabulous, I'm told, but completed long after I left), I've always been amazed at the how subpar its architecture is when one of the best architecture schools in the country happens to be located there.
posted by psmealey at 1:23 PM on March 15, 2008


Few in Seattle lament the loss of another unusually shaped restaurant called simply "The Blob".

I think the reason was that it served, at best, sub-mediocre Greek food, when there were a number of very good, unassuming Greek places only blocks to the east of there in Lower Queen Anne.
posted by psmealey at 1:26 PM on March 15, 2008


psmealey- I agree, with the exceptions of some of the places in the non direct path of the seattle expansion.

There are a few historic buildings and districts I wish to not see destroyed. Some of them are in the more industrial, SoDo / georgetown area, along with houses up on capitol hill, and then some. Give me the brick and marble buildings that used to be banks, or mortuaries, and you can knock down those 60s era apartment buildings (just let me move out of mine first).

Also I see this case of saving this specific building more of a big "F-U" to the developers and contractors, who are moving taking over Ballard (including mike's chilli and Edith who wouldn't sell her house to the contractors building the giant mall around her) and turn it into another suburban sprawl. The last thing I want is for Seattle to become more like Bellevue. A giant mall town that has no local color or flavor that hasn't been pre-approved by a planning committee, or franchise board of directors.
posted by mrzarquon at 1:43 PM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I totally agree, psmealey. It carries over into a lot of the new construction, too. Notable examples can be found at the north end of Broadway on Capitol Hill or the monstrosity going up at Leary and Market in Ballard. Stuff that looks like maybe not so bad now, in 20 years people will wonder what the hell they were thinking. There are of course many exceptions, but why is it so difficult?

You know the Twin Teepees are gone, right? *sniff*
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:47 PM on March 15, 2008


It's a cool building, but it needs a lot of love. I hope someone puts the required cash/effort into it.

And no, more fucking condos were not required.
posted by Artw at 1:49 PM on March 15, 2008


I can't wait until docomomo-wewa.org puts in a description for the modernist sub-style 'quonset hut'.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:57 PM on March 15, 2008


I'm thinking there was also a visceral reaction to the developer bringing in two Californians to lecture the locals on what is or isn't historically relevant for Seattle.
posted by dantsea at 2:00 PM on March 15, 2008


Holy hell, those Chinese structures are amazing, regardless of whether they are built or not yet.

Yeah you say that but you won't have to hang the sheetrock in 'em . . . did you say china? ok neither will I for that matter, never mind.
posted by nola at 2:05 PM on March 15, 2008


Other than the new library (fabulous, I'm told, but completed long after I left)

Bah. It's hideous on the inside. Hideous! I'm waiting for Allen Funt to leap out and tell us all it was a joke.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:05 PM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do you think we can save Sunset Bowl this way, too?
posted by tristeza at 2:12 PM on March 15, 2008


Don't make me cry about that again.
posted by Artw at 3:00 PM on March 15, 2008


I hope once all that new shit is built and Ballard's character is completely wiped from the map an earthquake opens a large crack in the ground and swallows it all up.

I used to think the developers in my home state of Florida had no shame but what the developers are doing to Ballard absolutely disgusts me. When I lived in Seattle my wife and I spent many weekends at the Locks and the chowder house across the street. We hoped to one day buy a little bungalow in Ballard. A good friend still lives in Seattle and recently told me I wouldn't recognize the formerly funky little working-class city. It's all mixed use condo bullshit.

It makes me sick.
posted by photoslob at 3:10 PM on March 15, 2008


The Denny's is badly designed.

It's not about pretty or how it looks; that central scoop between the peeks of the roof is an invitation for water damage. It very pointedly does not do the one thing a roof should do, which is shed water, and it does do the one thing a roof should never do, which is accumulate water in a flat depression so that it can sit.

If that building was a computer program, it would be the one with all the eye candy that crashes hard when you hit F4 at the wrong time.
posted by localroger at 3:50 PM on March 15, 2008


Hideous? I love the inside of the library. It completely looks like a science fiction movie from 1962. I always take people there when they come to visit. I think it's fun and hilarious. As well as offering some great views of downtown, some really fun art pieces scattered around, and a surprisingly intuitive way to access items.

I'm glad the old Denny's was saved. I love that feel you get in those buildings like you were in the den at the Brady's house.

Back when I lived in Albuquerque there was a googie Denny's that had been bought, many mooons ago, by a family and served some killer green chile cheese fries. Manny's, I think? Great building and an honest non-tarted up remnant of the old route 66.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:54 PM on March 15, 2008


Oh, and out of curiosity, I started googling all those chinese building to see if they're actually being built and found this great picture of the CCTV headquarters under construction on Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:CCTV_building_aug_2007.JPG
posted by lumpenprole at 3:58 PM on March 15, 2008


I'd second teh Library being lovely. In fact all of Seattles Libraries are pretty good, some of the towns best buildings.
posted by Artw at 3:59 PM on March 15, 2008


I always cringe at the Central Library's ugliness while biking past it. And given the escalators skipping floors, clearly Koolhaas was smoking the local color. De gustibus non est disputandum, I guess.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:21 PM on March 15, 2008


I work about two blocks from this Denny's. Hard to believe that such a scum-hole as this Denny's is actually worth preserving. I know that I'd be a lot more keen on saving the aforementioned Sunset Bowl. Isn't an in-city bowling alley historic in some way??? Please?
posted by Windopaene at 4:40 PM on March 15, 2008


And in reference to all of Ballard's character going away, luckily, a good part of old Ballard is actually a national historic site, (like th ebuilding where I work), and so tearing stuff down and wiping out all of the character is probably unlikely...
posted by Windopaene at 4:42 PM on March 15, 2008


Of all the bad things about the Library, the thing that bugs me most? The conference room level, where I feel like I'm a piece of poo moving through the colon.
posted by dw at 4:45 PM on March 15, 2008


Oh, I love the new branch libraries -- I used to live in Wedgwood, and that one's beautiful and intuitively laid out. The central library is a confusing jumble. I usually have my kids with me when I go to the library, and I don't have time to look at a map to find where the new releases are.

The old downtown library was depressing and smelly, and I'm glad they built a new one. I just wish they had spent less energy being flashy and cutting-edge, and more time thinking about its users. (I've defected to the King County Library System now, so pffft to all that anyway.)

Re Ballard: twenty years ago, my then-housemates put on a party at Galleria Potatohead. Beer, Super 8 movies (from the library!), perhaps a few people on drugs. When we were handing out invitations before the party, the general response was "A show? In Ballard?" It was like putting on a show in your grandparents' living room.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:01 PM on March 15, 2008


I've never understood this impulse. I guess nostalgia ain't what it used to be. Why preserve something that's tacky, just because it's old?
posted by Class Goat at 7:55 PM on March 15, 2008


Holy hell, those Chinese structures are amazing, regardless of whether they are built or not yet.

To each their own. For my money, with a couple exceptions, the Chinese buildings were monstrous. I liked the bridge and the theater. The "linked hybrid" reminded me of certain scenes from Lang's Metropolis in a dystopian kind of way. The CCTV building is a glass and steel abortion. The financial center looks like a cyclopean watchtower...ugh. But like I said, to each their own.
posted by Edgewise at 8:50 PM on March 15, 2008


And I agree about what localroger says about the Denny's. Funny roof, meh. Typical Seattle pointlessly quirky bullshit (disclaimer: I'm about to become a bitter ex-Seattlite).
posted by Edgewise at 8:56 PM on March 15, 2008


> I guess nostalgia ain't what it used to be. Why preserve something that's tacky, just because it's old?

Because "tacky" is a completely subjective adjective. Also because "beauty"isn't the only reason we keep things. When I bemoan Seattle's march towards generic mediocrity, I'm not saying it used to be beautiful and now it isn't. I'm saying it's losing it's interestingness. It's like falling in love with someone who has a crooked tooth. It may be funny looking, but you love it because of the person it belongs to.

Sure, Seattle is a kitschy city. But it's major landmark is the Space Needle, for crying out loud. Like it or not, Seattle came of age during a certain era. I think it's easy to preserve the character of colonial cities, or victorian cities, , even industrial era cities,because enough time has passed that it's easy to recognize the historical value. But Seattle is a Jet Age city, and by the time we get far enough away to recognize the vealue of that, it might all be gone. Things change a lot faster now. That doesn't have to mean you have to save everything, but it doesn't hurt to be a little careful.

"Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves. Even when we had Penn Station, we couldn’t afford to keep it clean. We want and deserve tin-can architecture in a tinhorn culture. And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed."

- "Farewell to Penn Station," New York Times editorial, October 30, 1963

posted by billyfleetwood at 9:43 PM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


If money is the only deciding factor, this gets replaced by this every time. Granted, The Ballard Denny's is no Penn Station, but the principle remains...
posted by billyfleetwood at 9:59 PM on March 15, 2008


Ya know, I think one of the good parts (sorry in advance if you've become homeless) is that it will destroy SO many of these overanxious builders and I might be able to afford a house. I still think Seattle is a beautiful city and there is little these people can do to detract from that. As long as they keep all the trees.....
posted by lattiboy at 10:54 PM on March 15, 2008


The good part of the HOUSING/CREDIT CRISIS. Sorry.
posted by lattiboy at 10:54 PM on March 15, 2008


There's this great bumper sticker from Leucadia, a little town (I still don't acknowledge its absorption into Encinitas!) in San Diego: Keep Leucadia funky.

I think that pretty much sums things up, for Seattle and points elsewhere, too.
posted by librarylis at 11:22 PM on March 15, 2008


There was a real estate bubble in the 80s, when there was an over abundance of office buildings, but, judging from the thirty odd construction cranes downtown, you woundln't know it now. There is, however, no housing crisis here. And no employment crisis, either. We are sitting very pretty in comparison to the rest of the country, and will be for sometime. Everyone will see this this paradise of unruined beauty and opportunity and make a beeline this way in order to help ruin it and drive up the unemployment rate. And when things really hit the fan, Washington may find itself in the position of California in the Dust Bowl era--with the state police at the border trying to turn back the huddled masses headed this way.
posted by y2karl at 11:33 PM on March 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


We are sitting very pretty in comparison to the rest of the country, and will be for sometime.

Maaaybe. WaMu is teetering; if they go they'll wipe out what, 7000 jobs here? That's nothing compared to the Boeing Bust, but spread a malaise across the entire money sector and pretty soon you're nearly back to the 2001 Boeing layoffs.

Right now housing prices in Seattle are flat for the first time in a long while. Rents have risen an average of 8%. (Ours only went up 1 1/2%, lucky us.) I wouldn't be so quick to say that there is no housing crisis here. I just don't think we'll really know that until summer comes around. If sales and prices are still flat during the summer rush, then I think the reality will set in.

OTOH, with most of the Seattle core pretty well linked into the bus system, I would think that with $3.60/gallon gas you'll see a rising demand for those uglyass Belltown condos and single-family houses in Ballard while Mill Creek and beyond start to suffer. So maybe the crisis will stay out beyond 405. Who knows?
posted by dw at 9:11 AM on March 16, 2008


Oh, and I took my mom to eat at that Denny's a couple months before they boarded it up. It looked like a Denny's on the inside. The bar was still there (thought not open at 10am). I'm kinda meh about losing that Denny's. I would have rather saved the Twin Teepees before the Denny's. (Eight years since they knocked it down and pissed off the city?)

I don't think it's that great an example of Googie, but I also don't want still another condo tower. Now that 46th and Stone is condos on three sides, it feels really dark and walled-in, like Wallingford is trying to protect itself from Fremont/Phinney Ridge. If you put a big condo on that corner next that Hjarjtja or whatever they call it behind the Denny's it starts to look pretty damn foreboding.

The more troubling thing for me is that we're losing our breakfast places and late night haunts. Pretty soon we're going to be down to Julia's and Mae's in my end of town for breakfast (assuming they come for the IHOP in Oaktree), and honestly, they're not all that good. And late night stuff it's just Beth's and 13 Coins now.
posted by dw at 9:21 AM on March 16, 2008


Karl: Anecdotal, of course, but I was unable to sell my house in Queen Anne. I got a few offers, but no one could get financing.
posted by astruc at 2:29 PM on March 16, 2008


Because "tacky" is a completely subjective adjective. Also because "beauty"isn't the only reason we keep things. When I bemoan Seattle's march towards generic mediocrity, I'm not saying it used to be beautiful and now it isn't. I'm saying it's losing it's interestingness. It's like falling in love with someone who has a crooked tooth. It may be funny looking, but you love it because of the person it belongs to.

You're in love with Denny's? You don't need architectural preservation, you need psychiatry.
posted by Class Goat at 4:24 PM on March 16, 2008


Class Goat, the building isn't a Denny's building. It had a Denny's in it since 1983 or so, but it wasn't built to be a Denny's. If it was just a Denny's, probably no one would care about its fate.

dw, yes. The 24-hour places are disappearing rapidly. But did you forget the Hurricane? (or have they changed their hours lately?) And the Denny's on 4th is still around, but they close on Saturday nights now because of the gang problem in their parking lot.
posted by litlnemo at 6:41 PM on March 16, 2008


(I still miss the Doghouse.)
posted by litlnemo at 6:41 PM on March 16, 2008


The majority of my memories of the Ballard Denny's (interior) hail from my early twenties and usually involved narcotics and post bowl mind state, not necessarily mutually exclusive. That in mind, I thought it more a vinyl aquarium rather than a triumph of human accommodation. Indeed, everything was Googie in those moments. The exterior though, like the Twin Teepees, Hat and Boots, Pink Elephant, and my beloved lament, Bob Murry's Dog House, were more than non sequitur or camp, they were like the people whom would always be at the party with not a common place thing to say. Rounded squares, that made the all too grey lines of this city worthwhile. ANYTHING could happen in these places, pretension was completely jettisoned. Seattle now is more like the nervous host, trying to appease everyone at the party by playing music only from their "gentrified and sassy" playlist, never playing the early Bowie tunes of course. They are already moving through my sweetheart Georgetown, if anyone has seen the fate of the old Rainer Brewery stock house lately. You'll never see masonry work of such wonder on such a scale again. Oh my dear Seattle, I will always love you...but it is like watching a dear friend of more than 30 years ordering an LL Bean catalog and not entirely out of desperation.
posted by agent seamalt jones at 11:59 PM on March 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


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