Novelty architecture across America

Bring your camera for Bakersfield's Big Shoe and Georgia's Big Chicken

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The Big Chicken of Marietta, GA

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The Big Chicken of Marietta, GA

During the first season of "The Brady Bunch," architect Mike Brady found himself saddled with BeBe Gallini, a demanding cosmetics tycoon. Throughout the episode, Ms. Gallini kept asking Mr. Brady to design a cosmetic-shaped factory, ultimately rejecting Brady's powder-puff design because it needed to be "fluffier."

Though BeBe Gallini is the stuff of sitcom nightmares, novelty architecture is very much alive and well in America. Parodied on "The Simpsons," Randy's Donuts in Inglewood, Calif., is a very famous example of this style of architecture. Nothing draws in customers, of course, like a super-sized concrete donut on the roof.

Here are other examples of object-shaped buildings that practically beg to be photographed:

Longaberger Corporate Headquarters, Newark, Ohio: Instead of Dilbert-like cubicles, executives at the Longaberger Company keep their employees in a basket—one that weighs approximately 9,000 tons. A trademark as well as a building, the Longaberger Building Basket comes complete with handles—heated to get rid of ice—and huge gold-leaf-painted tags weighing 725 pounds each.

The Big Shoe, Bakersfield, Calif: In "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," Pee-wee Herman saved his neck by doing the "Big Shoe Dance" in front of a group of angry bikers. Pee-wee would have trouble, however, slipping on the Big Shoe, a famous Bakersfield, Calif., building. Constructed in 1947, the Big Shoe is home, appropriately enough, to a shoe-repair business.

The Teapot Dome Gas Station, Zillah, Wash: Zillah was the place to go if you wanted to fill up your gas tank and get a history lesson at the same time. Built in protest to President Warren G. Harding and the Teapot Dome Scandal, this 15-foot, teapot-shaped gas station has survived long past that petroleum scandal of the 1920s.

Although it was placed on the National Historical Register, the Teapot Dome Gas Station has fallen on hard times recently. The Friends of the Teapot organization want to bring the building into the city and have it serve as a visitor's center.

The James S. McDonnell Planetarium, St. Louis, Mo: Home to countless Laserium shows in the 1970s, the James S. McDonnell Planetarium is a practical example of a hyperboloid structure. Buildings using the hyperboloid structure are strong enough to support the weight of towers.

Designed by Gyo Obata, the James S. McDonnell Planetarium has been a St. Louis landmark since 1963 and, during the holiday season, the planetarium is decorated with a festive red ribbon.

The Big Chicken, Marietta, Ga: Where does a seven-story chicken sit? If it is in Marietta, the Big Chicken perches at the intersection of Roswell Road and Cobb Parkway. The creation of restaurateur Stanley R. "Tubby" Davis in 1963, the Big Chicken has been watching over Marietta for years. Local residents use it as a landmark, especially when giving directions ("Drive a mile past the big chicken...").

When the chicken started losing, uh, feathers, Kentucky Fried Chicken, the current owners, had the bird restored to his former glory.

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