While sitting in a drive-through I was reminded of a phrase one of my architectural mentors mentioned to me: “We must constantly be evaluating the buildings we are in.” He said this to me as we sat in a Steak and Shake. I most certainly had a smart-ass comment to make to him as a reply. What it amounted to was “What does the steak-n-shake building offer me?!” As most good mentors have a tendency of doing, he replied to me making me wish I hadn’t spoken so quickly. “Our buildings help define us as a culture.” He went on to explain that nearly all commercial buildings need an architect at some point and that someone out there is providing a stamp for these things.
It is with that in mind that I present the following:
The Burger King located on Hemphill and Northside has enjoyed a lot more success this past summer. A lot of it is due to its recent renovation which included a complete tear-down and build-out. The old Burger King was probably 15+ years old and simply struggling against its new competitors such as Jersey Mikes and Five Guys Burgers and Fries on the ground floor of the mixed-use Tenside development.
The owner decided it needed a face-lift– and a major one. What once was squalid and unappealing turned into alluring and fun. As I sat in the drive-through, I found myself admiring the architect’s play with steel metal siding and the stucco that looked to be modeled with it…much like a sculptural casting of sorts. Also the interior is an equally interesting play of material and mural.
This building is an example that used design, specifically architecture, to redefine its image. It does not matter if the service has been revamped or if the owner has changed if people continue to speed by at 55mph down Northside Drive. The architecture helped separate this outlier from the cookie mold.
Another example where Burger King has favored architecture is in the area in Berlin, Germany. The American establishment bought the Berlin-Pavilion by Hermann Fehling when no one else would and saved it from destruction! A question rattling around in my head is why Burger King? Why has something selling greasy potatoes and generally unhealthy food aligned itself with the design field? Potentially it is an untapped market in the fast-food industry. Designers (and the general American public) all experience time-crunches that necessitate a quick, cheap, and filling meal. Companies like Ikea and Target have seen the value of design-oriented marketing. Is it possible that Burger King is seeking the allegiance of the hipster crowd? Maybe, but I prefer to think that the company simply is making good business decisions. What it lacks in nutritional value it seems to make up for in an interest in aesthetics and design.
[ atlanta, burger king, Hermann Fehling, v_02 | i_01 ]