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College of Environment and Design

Kodachrome Commerce: American Commercial Architecture 1945-1980



Symposium Date: October 25, 2019

Thank you for your interest in the University of Georgia’s e-symposium, Kodachrome Commerce: American Commercial Architecture, 1945-1980.



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We are pleased to showcase a wide variety of presentation topics including:

  • Specific mid-century commercial typologies
  • Establishing evaluation criteria
  • Cultural landscapes associated with roadside architecture 
  • Mid-century design, construction methods, and materials 
  • Case studies involving mid-century commercial resources 

For questions or additional information, please contact Jennifer Lewis at or 706.542.1028


The economic boom and suburbanization of the post-World War II period in the United States led to an unprecedented rise in building upstarts. Numbers of scholarly works have identified the defining characteristics and significance of residential structures; however, an evident dearth of guidance documents and context statements regarding commercial properties currently exists. As millions of these potentially historic resources reach and surpass the National Park Service’s 50-year threshold to be considered ‘historic,’ these resources require thorough examination as to their potential significance to the nation’s architectural, social, and cultural heritage. 

The utilitarian aesthetic, universal construction methodology and ubiquity of commercial structures of this period present a unique challenge for the interpretation and preservation of this resource group. The term, “commercial architecture,” serves as the moniker for unknown numbers of building sub-types, each with its own defining characteristics, integrity challenges, and significance. Nationwide, commercial buildings have undergone material replacement and major alterations in order to maintain and attract in-person clientele. A national discourse is needed to identify major challenges in developing typologies, integrity issues, construction methodology, and materials for millions of extant structures. This symposium will address the need for a structured, replicable methodology for identifying and determining the potential eligibility of postwar commercial architecture.


Our live streaming symposium includes all geographic regions and commercial architecture sub-types. Kodachrome Commerce offers a unique approach to a live streaming format; all presentations are prerecorded, and remote attendees will have the opportunity to ask presenters questions in real-time via online discussion. This format is designed to introduce attendees to multiple mid-century commercial topics and real-world challenges facing mid-century commercial resources.




All presentations from the Symposium are available on the College of Environment and Design’s YouTube page for future viewing:


screenshot Lauren Patterson
“Making Sense of Mid-Century Commercial Architecture”
 screenshot Carol Dyson
“The Open Front: Midcentury Commercial Design, Assemblies, & Materials”
 screenshot Susan V. Mayer
“Surveying Modernist Architecture in Charlotte, North Carolina”

Kirk Huffaker
“Defining Downtown at Mid-Century: The Architecture of the Bank Building & Equipment Corporation of America”

This presentation available for download only

 screenshot Sebastian Renfield
“3M Center: The Idea Factory”
screenshot Adrian Scott Fine
“1950s-1970s Downtown Commercial Revitalization: The Physical Imprint and Legacy”
screenshot Chad Moffett and Liz Boyer
“The Bold and Exaggerated: Roadside Architecture of Route 66 in California”
 screenshot Jamee Fiore
“Fillin’ Up Your Tank: Mid-Century Service Stations”
 screenshot Margaret Roderick
“Form Follows Function: The Innovative Architecture of Jack in the Box”
 screenshot Emily Pettis and Tim Smith
“Dipped Cones, Sundaes, and Mix-ins: Ice Cream Stands of the Postwar Era”
 screenshot Aaron Marcavitch
“Roadside Landscapes: Effective Connections & Interpretations”



NCHRP 25-62 [RFP]
Improving the Efficiency and Consistency of Section 106 Compliance for State DOTs: Strategies for Project-Level Programmatic Agreements and Postwar Commercial Properties

NCHRP 25-58
Commercial Properties from 1945 to 1980: Guidance for State DOTs and Their Partners for Historic Context Development, Identification, and Evaluation

Roadside Kansas MPDF 

Modernist Architecture in Charlotte 

SVM Historical Consulting

The Modern Classic City: Analyzing Commercial Development in Athens, Georgia from 1930 to 1981

Margaret Roderick, Russell Forester, F.A.I.A.: “Skin and Bones Architecture” in San Diego

Carol Dyson: Mid-Century Modernism, Design & Materials



Be sure to visit the Kodachrome Commerce forum for further discussion, including to ask and respond to questions from the Symposium, and about mid-century commercial architecture in general. Users are encouraged to share real-world challenges, success stories and, potential research areas as we continue to grow our knowledge regarding this resource type. Follow this link to access the forum. 


For more information, please email Jennifer Lewis at

© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602