a gas station and the california vernacular

GAS-STATION_02

Driving along the coast through Laguna Beach, I noticed a funky little structure now operating as the offices for a small auto repair shop – it was clearly an old gas station, with the concrete pump pads still extant, which I’ve drawn in the top-most drawing.  The fascinating bit was that the overall building was a  gabled Spanish stucco hut, complete with a red tile roof and chimney, but the service awning was a flat modernist roof, and which cut deep into the gabled volume.  The overlap and simultaneity of languages was so simple, irreverent, and playful.  So I did my own variation: the plan is the bottom half of the top drawing, the half-elevations are below.

GAS-STATION_03

gas station, classical var.

GAS-STATION_01

We all know what gas stations look like here in America – banal.  Yet, the same ‘Mid-Century’ Modernism that is so popular right now also tidied up these rather pedestrian buildings as well.  Mies van der Rohe even tried his hand at one in Montreal as part of a larger development.  However, decades of neglect and changing cultural tastes have obscured the once minimal elegance of these structures.  I drove past an example in Santa Monica that had been covered up in all the various and cheap appliques of ‘Mediterranean’ style.  If Modernism could love this typology, could good Classicism?  Behold, the fruits of such thinking – Doric porticos and pyramidal skylights.