In the world of news related to Northwest Googie architecture and historic preservation, there are some new and interesting developments. They range from negotiations over a controversial Ballard diner, an upcoming lecture on Googie architecture by the expert on the topic, possible landmark status for a popular burger stand in Tacoma, and the announcement of the state's 2008 awards for historic preservation. Here's a quick rundown.
1. Seattle's historic reservation officer Karen Gordon tells me that she's been talking with the attorney representing the owners of the Ballard Manning's/Denny's diner that was granted landmark status earlier this year. The owner has agreed to negotiate a "controls and incentives" agreement. Whether an agreement can be reached remains to be seen. The owner, Benaroya, has said preserving the diner is economically impossible and will go forward with a lawsuit if it does not reverse its decision. Preservationists remain hopeful that the diner can be incorporated into a re-conceived development on the site. The next chapter in the Ballard saga: The agreement (or lack of one) will be discussed by the city's Landmarks Board at their meeting on May 21.
2. On May 20, the day before the Landmarks Board meets, the modernist preservation group Docomomo WeWA, will be hosting a lecture by Alan Hess, who is considered the expert on Googie architecture. Hess is a California architect, historian, and architecture critic for the San Jose Mercury News. He's also author of Googie: Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture and Googie Redux: Ultramodern Roadside Architecture and co-author of several other books on modern architecture. According to Docomom WeWA Hess "will examine how Googie architecture successfully combined Modernism and popular culture and why it is important today." He is also a fan of of the Ballard Denny's and strongly supported its designation as a landmark. The lecture will be held at the Swedish Cultural Center in Seattle (On Dexter Ave.), itself a stylish example of modern architecture. Tickets are $10.
3. Down in Tacoma, preservationists are taking up the cause of the famous Frisko Freeze drive-in. The 58-year-old diner on N. Division Avenue is a family-owned, roadside classic that has been serving burgers since 1950. With its Googie-style signage, it's a bit like Seattle's Dick's Drive-in in type and era, and its burgers have drawn fans far and wide. When Booth Gardner was governor in Olympia, he used to send aides to pick him up a burger or two. The building is not currently in jeopardy, but it is definitely a local icon and preservationists--with the cooperation of the owner--are preparing a city landmark nomination. Tacoma has some fabulous historic buildings and has done wonders using classic structures like Union Station as the basis for revitalizing parts of town. As elsewhere, Tacoma's eyes are turning from turn-of-the-century to mid-20th century modern structures as prospects for preservation, and designating Frisko Freeze fits in with that trend.
4. Lastly, the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation has announced its annual awards for "outstanding achievement in historic preservation" for 2008. The 18th year of these awards, they are given by the state's historic preservation officer Dr. Allyson Brooks. The awards range around the state, but some will be of particular interest to Seattleites. Among this year's winners are former Seattle City Councilman and architect Peter Steinbrueck, who is receiving a career achievement award; King County councilman Dow Constantine and developer Kevin Daniels for their work to save Seattle's First United Methodist Church; Docomomo WeWA (mentioned above) for their efforts to raise awareness of the importance of preserving modern architecture; and yours truly, Mossback, is winning an award for my writings on development and historic preservation on Crosscut this last year. I am honored and humbled to be in such company and grateful that my Crosscut bosses have allowed me to cover this beat. A full list of the 10 winners can be found here. The awards ceremony will be in Olympia on May 13.