Modern safety rest area buildings are those that most closely reflect the modern architectural aesthetic of the 1950s and 1960s. Structures designed in this vein do not exhibit an identifiable influence of the cultural or natural history of their state; in contrast to basic traditional structures they reflect a high style design aesthetic.
The use of regional characteristics in the design of safety rest area buildings and structures is one of the most prolific design concepts used during the mid-century period. This aesthetic was commonly used in picnic shelters but can also be identified in toilet building deign. Regional design is characterized by the use of programmatic imagery that reflects culturally historic or landscape characteristics of a particular region.
Designs reflect culturally historic elements of the local region or state; regional design is often most dramaticlly expressed in picnic shelters, these shelters are often paired with modern or regional modern toilet building design; toilet buildings of regional design are almost always paired with picnic shelters of the same design theme; materials may reflect regionally traditional building materials; look for creative use of common materials, brick, wood, stone and metal are common.
Rustic or Regional Modern
A strong focus in rest area design in the early and mid-1960s was the idea of blending buildings and structures with their surrounding landscape. The goal of this design focus was to create cohesive sites that complemented rather than contrasted their natural setting. This was achieved both through the use of modest forms, and natural materials and paint schemes.
Look for simple modern forms with rustic detailing. Common are low-rising, horizontally oriented buildings with shallow pitched or flat roof lines. Often found in mountainous and desert regions. Common detailing materials include rock or stone, wood and tile. Concrete block is a common primary construction material.
Located on I-5 southbound in Oregon, this building represents the state's first generation design implemented in the early 1960s
This building type emerged in the early 1970s, and was built almost exclusively during that decade. They are defined by the combination of shapes and forms which defy traditional ideas of formal building practices. They are grander in scale than their 1960s predecessors and commonly feature interior lobby spaces. These buildings are dramatic and engaging, they often relate to the natural landscape in their reference to natural materials and orientation; however they do not reference specific building or landscape traditions.
Buildings are characterized by unconventional forms that do not reflect traditional building types; such as dramatic roof angles and perpendicular building elements.Look for exaggerated construction elements that relate to each other in nontraditional ways. These buildings are grand in scale and are typically defined more by form than construction materials.
Enterprise rest area located on I-90 in Minnesota, constructed 1976, image courtsey of MNDOT
Another product of the 1970s, these buildings, as seen in many examples, do not look like buildings, but more like natural structures emerging from the landscape. These buildings employ the imagination serving as a kind of visual amusement.
These buildings are defined by their unconventional forms, undulating and curvilinear forms that create dramatic points of entrance. One may feel that he/she is entering into the landscape itself. Look for straightforward construction materials, including brick, stone, wood and concrete. The buildings have minimal decorative features and are typically constructed of a single material.
Located on I-70 westbound in Ohio near the Indiana state line, there are several of these buildings throughout the state
No rest area building type reflects a common theme in 1970s architecture more than this one. These buildings are most distinguished by their roof forms which vaguely reference historical forms, the most common being the mansard and reverse mansard (pizza hut style roof). These forms reflect a broader revivalism that was popular during the mid-1970s. In some examples the roof forms are exaggerated to create a more dramatic rendition, this occurred most commonly in welcome centers.
Look for rectangular buildings with distinguished revival
style roof forms. Common building
materials are brick, wood and concrete with shingled roofs that give them a
Welcome Center located on I-40 westbound in Arkansas