The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAllister

Chris Nichols, Author
Chris Nichols, Author Gibbs Smith Publishers $19.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-58685-699-1
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Ebullient and breezy, this retrospective on the multi-generation career of commercial architect Wayne McAllister is the perfect vehicle for the architect who defined the southern California look and, according the New York Times, ""elevated commercial structures like the drive-in restaurant...to art forms."" Needless to say, the look he gave birth to has become so ingrained in popular American culture that it's largely taken for granted; McAllister's overwhelming influence and sizable output get some deserved recognition in this volume, thick with photos and illustrations, that has the feel of a lovingly assembled collage. Historic preservationist Nichols, a Los Angeles native, shows a deep knowledge and passion for his home state, and displays his architectural chops in simple, unpretentious and occasionally cheeky writing that susses out the idealism and everyday glamour of McAllister projects like the Melody Lane restaurant (which graces the cover) and the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. Academics and serious architecture buffs may be frustrated by a lack of new insight or research, but less demanding fans of mid-20th century commercial architecture, and many fans of American pop culture in general, will find this volume as fun and welcoming as the oversized figure of Bob's Big Boy adorning McAllister-designed drive-ins all along the western seaboard.
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