Getting With The Program-matic Architecture

Programmatic architecture — you either love it or hate it. Purely kitsch, programmatic architecture is a building depicting a product sold or something associated. It was a mid-century nod towards Los Angeles’ foundation in the industry, car culture, and novelty. Now that architectural interests have developed past this tralala, few of these buildings remain in their original form today. Many have disappeared off the map due to conversion/demolition for new development projects, sadly enough…

But don’t cry too hard, there are still a few gems left. And if you haven’t driven by one of these iconic, programmatic buildings, marveling at its garish beauty and beaming with Angeleno pride, chances are high you have seen one in the background of a movie or a Simpsons episode. Here are a few of our favorites…

Fine Arts LA Randy’s Donuts

Randy’s Donuts (805 West Manchester Ave.) is a donut and coffee stop on the way back from the airport. Big, bold, and delicious, Randy’s Donuts is the darling of Angeleno programmatic architecture, mostly due to it being an actual donut shop for over fifty years.

Fine Arts LA The Darkroom historic

The Darkroom (5364 Wilshire Blvd.) was once the photographic supply store of choice with a 9-foot tall camera storefront. Built in the early ‘30s, it is now the home of El Toro Cantina.

Fine Arts LA Brown Derby

The original Brown Derby restaurant (3377 Wilshire Blvd.), birthplace of the Cobb salad, once sat across the street from the Ambassador Hotel (RIP) and was the happening spot for Cocoanut Grove after parties back in the day. Now the dome of the brown derby hat sits on top of a Koreatown town mini mall, a mere shell of its former self.

Fine Arts LA Pink Cadillac building

A little outside Los Angeles proper, the Pink Cadillac building (19611 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, CA) is awe inspiring due to its kitsch value. We bow down.

Fine Arts LA Tail O’ the Pup

Our next favorite, Tail O’ the Pup (329 N. San Vicente Blvd.), has recently disappeared. It was genius and adorable. We heard rumors the storefront is in storage because Tail O’ Pup lost the right to use its parking lot. It is also rumored to make its way back due to high demand.

Fine Arts LA Cafe Jack

Café Jack (508 S. Western Ave.), a boat-shaped Titanic-themed café. Need we say more?

In a city where not very many buildings can be described as old, we hold dearly those that stand out in a big way from our already varied architectural landscape. With Frank Lloyd Wrights, Gehrys, and Neutras abound, it is nice to go to a donut-shaped donut every once in a while…just for fun.

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