The Los Angeles Times weighs in today (Jan. 13) on Seattle's Googie controversy, with a story by Seattle-based staff writer Tomas Alex Tizon. The piece covers the basics of the brouhaha over the landmarking of the Ballard diner previously occupied by a Manning's cafeteria and more recently a Denny's. A landmark nomination of the building has been approved. While national papers like the LA Times and New York Times often look for quirky local stories, the Ballard controversy has California connections. Southern California, cradle of the car culture, is the epicenter of modern, post-war roadside architecture, known as Googie after a famous diner there. Also, Clarence Mayhew, the architect who designed the Ballard building, was based in the San Francisco Bay Area, as was the Manning's cafeteria chain which commissioned the diner in the 1960s. Manning's was originally founded in Seattle at the Pike Place Market (their original restaurant is now Lowell's). Also, the Jan. 13 op/ed pages of the Seattle Times featured a letters column devoted to reader response to the paper's recent editorial denouncing the landmarks process. (My own reaction to the misconception-filled editorial is here.) Some letter writers agreed with the Times that the building wasn't worth preserving, one saying that "destruction of the old Denny's...can't come soon enough." But most supported saving the diner and defended the Googie style. Wrote one: "So much architecture throughout the Northwest is cold, drab and antiseptic. Let's celebrate those elements that breathe a little life, or a bit of fun, into the community!" One point of clarification: both the LA Times story and Seattle Times editorial have great fun with the idea that silly Seattle is considering preserving a Denny's--Tizon reports that it would be the first Denny's ever landmarked. But preservationists point out that Denny's was merely the most recent tenant. The building is being nominated because of who designed it and its architectural significance. Denny's was, however, very sensitive to community opinion when they took over the building in the 1980s. They intended to tear it down but agreed to keep it when Ballard residents objected to losing it, an unusual move for a corporate chain. Such willingness to work with existing structures is key to historic preservation. The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board will meet to consider the final designation of the diner on Feb. 6.