Friday, January 27, 2012

Look Up!

The gorgeous new embossed-tin ceiling is going up in the Good Food hall on Center Street today.

Monday, January 23, 2012

More Center Street Progress!

The busy folks at the LAB continue to enhance our historic downtown's Center Street Promenade. Currently, it's all in the details...

Column bases are shedding the marble veneer, and gaining traditional bricks.

Before and After

Starting with the new doors and windows on the Food Court facade, a more classic look and vibe are gradually taking over the street.

Stay tuned for further updates on the exciting changes happening in your Downtown.
Or even better, why don't you head over to Center Street in person and see for yourself? While you're there, treat yourself to a fresh-brewed iced tea at the K&A, or frozen yogurt at Swirls. You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Mobil Gas Station, Anaheim 1956

Can a gas station inspire awe? We think it can. This marvelous modern Mobil once adorned the intersection of Harbor and Katella, catty-corner from Disneyland's expansive parking lot. Its four exuberant canopies were arranged in a neat diamond pattern - each magically balanced on a single central support - and topped by a flying red Pegasus.

For these images, architects Whitney Smith and Wayne Williams enlisted the talents of their friend, famed photographer Julius Shulman. Shulman staged the photo on the spur of the moment, with a customer's red car and the wife of one of the architects, driving her own Austin-Healey convertible, with white gloves, in the foreground. Anaheim's ubiquitous orange trees, loaded with fruit, border the blacktop in the distance.

In his book Googie Redux, historian Alan Hess notes "This is another example of an established high-art architect who took the purpose and forms of roadside architecture seriously."

Fantastic, isn't it?

Julius Shulman was one of the leading architectural photographers of the 20th century, developing a close association with many Modernist architects. His work played a major role in crafting the perception of the "Southern California lifestyle" to the rest of the world during the 1950s and 1960s.

And here's where it was... in the bottom right corner of this 1958 aerial view.
Today the property is an empty lot surrounded by chain link fence.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Everything New is Old Again!

Hang on tight, here it comes!  The most exciting redevelopment project in Anaheim's history is underway, as our downtown's Center Street Promenade undergoes an extreme makeover.
Once home to historic buildings that have since been destroyed, the area will soon be inhabited with non-chain retail stores and restaurants that will bring a hip vibe to the area.

New windows (left) look older and more classic than the old ones (right).
The outdated Center Street, designed in the 1980s, is rapidly being re-imagined as a classic 1940s American downtown.   In the visual styling of this project, it's evident that old has become the new new. For example, the K&A Cafe facade is currently in the process of getting fresh windows and doors, which look convincingly as though they've been here for generations.  Antique-looking fold-out windows with panes of wavy hand-made glass are replacing the previous teal-framed ones - and the effect is stunning.

K&A's new interior, in progress.
Inside, the K&A is beginning to look like a whole new cafe.  Vintage "chicken wire tile" cover the floor, new chairs and tables are being brought in, subway tiles add texture to the back wall, and soon an embossed tin ceiling will be installed  "We're very excited about the changes," say K&A owners Kathy and Art Cervantes, who serve up sandwiches, tacos and pastries to the downtown lunch crowd.

K&A owner Art Cervantes (left) with AHS Vice President Kevin Kidney
Large window panels now fold open so diners can enjoy the weather as they eat, while the aromas of good food are carried out to passersby in the street.

Fresh-brewed iced tea and homemade cheese danish
at one of the new glass-topped "community tables".
 Luther Miller (right), Construction Project Manager for Center Street's redevelopment.
An undertaking this big obviously requires passionate and creative people. The Lab's Project Manager Luther Miller grew up visiting the old downtown Anaheim as a kid, and fondly remembers the city's sense of excitement and activity.  "Anaheim's downtown was king!" he recalls, "Back then the city had it all, and everyone came here." Miller is confident that the project will bring that good feeling back again. "Creating a timeless, appealing environment is just the first step.  Fortunately the buildings on this street have good bones!"

Exterior lighting fixtures, then and now!
Watch for further updates on the transformation of our historic downtown in the weeks ahead.