Thursday, February 17, 2011

Great Wall Architecture

Trying to be helpful, I suggested that the architect who steals my covers might want to emulate these fine examples. It seems he's a little stubborn and not open to new ideas.

Amazingly, the Great Wall is still standing.  It looks much the same in the street view, but it was closed in 2010.  Here's a link to the street view and to a photo on Flickr with commentary on the restaurant.

I think it's fair to say that the Sands is in a separate category from the other two. I'm adding some extra information, inspired by Howard's question in the comments below.
The Sands was designed by Architect Wayne McAllister and built in 1952.  In its heyday, it was the place to be.  It was the place where Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr.,  Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford first appeared on stage together.  At one point,  the Sands was owned by Howard Hughes.  By 1996, despite the addition of a large tower, it had lost its appeal and was imploded and demolished.  The Venetian was built in the same location after the Sands was demolished. It looks like this now. Makes the Sands look kind of quaint in comparison.

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Here are the backs of these cards, in case you want to go see them in person.


  1. I was expecting to see the Great Wall of China!

  2. Wonderful cards, I am in awe of the variety of postcards in your collection!

  3. Great postcards. I really like the restaurant postcard with the now vintage cars parked in front.

  4. Now let's not be putting words in my mouth, Postcard Lady... While the Great Wall may not have the most friendly street frontage, it is actually a very clear conceptual facade with some witty abstractions:

    1) The Great Wall restaurant is built as just that, a great (or at least, large) wall, a good attempt at branding.
    2) The single opening implies it is protecting something special beyond, and the glazing in this area suggests it is a dazzling realm, sort of like the crystalline interior of a geode hidden by the solid, rough exterior. Wright's Morris gift shop in San Francisco plays a similar game, except he also built a really beautiful wall.
    3) The hanging light fixtures are a groovy abstraction of typical Chinese lanterns, as is the faceted red cornice an abstraction of a red tile roof.

    The Sands is a prime example of Googie style, which was a dynamic reinterpretation of the classic/heroic modernism of the 20's - 30's, primarily used as roadside architecture during the suburban development explosion of the 40's - 60's and the associated automobile based society. Although the style often descended to kitsch, I think that it is fair to say that it was a seed that contributed to the development of the aggressive, fragmented forms associated with deconstructivist contemporary designs of Gehry, Hadid, Morphosis, Liebeskind, etc. starting in the 80's and continuing today.

    That said, I had better start getting the guest room ready for myself tonight....

  5. The architecture is sweet, but how about the architecture on those two '59 Chevys parked in front of the Great Wall? Those fins! I guess it's a guy thing.

  6. No, it's not just a guy thing. I would love to have that black car just to the left of the entrance.

  7. The Sands...unsurpassed, until it was surpassed. Implosion ensues. :)

  8. Great postcards! Have any of these buildings survived? I couldn't find the Great Wall or Sands on Street View.

  9. Howard,
    Thanks so much for the question. I found some very interesting information on the 'historic' Sands hotel and will add it to the post above.

  10. Architects have a lot to answer for. A fine collection of cards : I think I will try and take up the challenge and look out some British examples of the strange art of architecture on postcards.

  11. It's really ashamed there's no way to see the interior details of the old casinos for those of us who grew up in a later generation and missed them. It would be great to even have an opportunity to take a virtual tour just to see the architecture and extravagance.

  12. The Chinese Wall looks a little sad now.
    The Venetian looks like something out of, err, Las Vegas. The Sands looked optimistically to the future and its replacement, The Venetian, looks back at the past like a corny pastiche.



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