The A+D Architecture and Design Museum in southern California is focused exclusively on progressive architecture, design and urbanism. Their current exhibition, Bowlarama: California Bowling Architecture 1954-1964, brings a new insight into the art of the recreation centre, exploring the architecture and technology that created a new version of this in the 1950s and reinvented the sport of bowling.
Dating back for hundreds of years, bowling was a very male-dominated sport in the early 20th century, and bowling lanes could most often be found in the back of shabby saloons. Originally balls were returned and pins reset by young men operating behind the lanes but the widespread use of the automatic pinsetter and other new technologies in the 1950s gave rise to a host of elaborate new centres in the suburbs that catered to a family audience. Californian architects created increasingly lavish pin palaces that included fine restaurants, sumptuous cocktail lounges, and live entertainment under eye-catching roofs and dramatic modern architecture.
Through rarely seen photographs, drawings, and original artifacts, the A+D Architecture and Design Museum offers a peek into this lost world of extreme architecture. The exhibition looks back with nostalgia at a time when one in four Americans considered themselves bowlers, when glitzy 50-lane pleasure palaces were open 24 hours a day, and to a decade which experienced the decadent leisure lifestyle of Bowlarama.
Bowlarama: California Bowling Architecture 1954-1964, until 11 May, 2014, A+D Architecture and Design Museum, Los Angeles, California, www.aplusd.org.
1. HolidayBowl, copyright Jack Laxer.