Paul László: The Quintessential Atomic Age Architectural Designer

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Paul László was a Hungarian-born modern architect and interior designer whose work spanned eight decades and many countries. László built his reputation while designing interiors for houses, but in the 1960s, largely shifted his focus to the design of retail and commercial interiors. – wikipedia

László was the quintessential Atomic Age mid-century designer. In 1952 TIME magazine called him ‘The Rich Man’s Architect’. He did it all – he ‘design[ed] his houses down to the last ashtray or built-in Kleenex holder.’ He also designed a rather mod US Air Force bomb shelter:

Laszlo US Airforce Air Force Bomb Shelter Design

Laszlo US Air Force Bomb Shelter Design (image via orhan ayyuce)

Below are some super articles covering Paul Laszlo’s Atomic Age masterpieces. Super thanks to MidCentArc on flickr. (Click on the images for a larger view)

Atomville 1950

Atomville 1950

Atomville - At Home, 2004 A.D. - 1954 (Page 1 of 3)

Atomville – At Home, 2004 A.D. – 1954 (Page 1 of 3) – Architect: Paul Laszlo (Popular Mechanics Magazine)

Atomville - At Home, 2004 A.D. - 1954 (Page 2 of 3)

Atomville – At Home, 2004 A.D. – 1954 (Page 2 of 3)

Atomville - At Home, 2004 A.D. - 1954 (Page 3 of 3)

Atomville – At Home, 2004 A.D. – 1954 (Page 3 of 3)

The Paul Laszlo Residence, Beverly Hills, CA (1 of 2)

The Paul Laszlo Residence, Beverly Hills, CA (1 of 2)

The Paul Laszlo Residence, Beverly Hills, CA (2 of 2)

The Paul Laszlo Residence, Beverly Hills, CA (2 of 2)

Paul Laszlo was truly a Mid-Century visionary – if you could afford him.

AMERICAN MUSEUM OF ATOMIC ENERGY

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Special Thanks To: Todd Franklin

Hey kids! Pull up your bobby socks and get ready to duck and cover ’cause we’re visiting the American Museum of Atomic Energy! I’m sure you’ve heard about that little project during WWII called the Manhattan Project, right? You know, atomic bombs and such. The souvenir beanie above is telling the truth when it says, “Oak Ridge, Tennessee is the home of the atomic bomb. This “secret city” sprouted up during the war years and in its factories the atomic bomb was built. After the war, the town shifted to civilian control.

In 1949, Oak Ridge also became the home of the American Museum of Atomic Energy! This was the place to learn about the benefits of the all powerful atom. More importantly, it was the place where you could get a radioactive dime to take home as a souvenir!

In the brochure pictured above, it looks like those teenagers are having fun feeding the machine dimes. Boy, that sure beats getting a wooden nickel for a souvenir!

Unfortunately, the dime didn’t glow like my exaggerated example, but that’s how I like to imagine it when it came out of the machine. In reality, the radiation faded away quickly and the dime was supposedly safe to stick in your pocket. (Click here for more info on irradiated dimes and here for another photo.)

The museum was much more than radioactive dimes according to these excerpts from the brochure.

The Dagwood Splits the Atom exhibit looks like fun! Science is always better when explained by comic characters. Apparently this exhibit made the rounds to various fairs and museums. Click here and here to view the official comic.

Here you get to see a schematic model of plants that helped build the atomic bomb.

The first gas diffusion separation is on display. (You know, I really don’t know what any of this means, but it sure does sound interesting!

The Theatre of the Atom. I think this is where an audience member would get their hair zapped. Click here to see this gal get a new atomic hairdo!

The American Museum of Atomic Energy moved to a new location in 1975 and in 1978 the name was changed to American Museum of Science and Energy. Even though they don’t have a dime irradiator machine the place still looks like a fun family outing.

I leave with you this very cool photo of a vintage bowling shirt from Oak Ridge. I snapped this pic at the Bowling Hall of Fame back when it was located in St. Louis, Missouri.

via Neato Coolville: AMERICAN MUSEUM OF ATOMIC ENERGY

When ‘Duck & Cover’ Isn’t Enough – Harold Tifft’s ‘Portable Shield’

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Incredibly strange, but oddly sensible, Cold War shelter invention: Patent images for Harold C. Tifft’s ‘Portable Shield’ originally filed on 17 April 1956.

US2921317

Fig. l is a perspective view of one form of such a shield when in use by a wearer; Fig. 2 is a side view of the shield shown in Fig. 1; Fig. 8 is a front detailed view of face protective means which may form a part of the shield of this invention.

US2921317

Fig. 4 is a front perspective view of a second possible embodiment of the shield of this invention Patent ice Fig. 5 is a perspective view of the embodiment shown in Fig. 4, showing how the several sections can be telescoped together; Fig. 6 is a view in perspective of a carrying case with the handle for the head section extending through the cover thereof.

US2921317

Fig. 7 is an illustration showing how the shields of this invention would actually be put to use in vertical and horizontal positions during times of danger.

The bottom image shows two possible positions for the wearer: face first flush against the wall, or face first flush against the ground (or floor).

The main object of this invention is to provide a portable shield which will serve to guard the human body from the injurious or lethal effects of a nuclear explosion.

A second object of this invention is to provide a portable shield against nuclear explosions which can be easily and quickly placed around a considerable portion of the human body.

Another object of this invention is to provide a shield which can be adjusted so that it will substantially cover the entire body of the wearer, regardless of whether the wearer is in a standing, sitting or reclining position.

A further object of this invention is to provide a shield for the body which, in addition to being portable, also can be readily adjusted by the wearer so as to permit him to run from one place to another and yet still have a substantial measure of protection on the upper portion of his body.

(Complete patent available at Google Patents)

The Classic Sound Of The Cold War – Brought To You By Chrysler

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What you hear at the start of this video is the sound of a Chrysler FirePower Hemi V8 engine start and rev-up. Afterwards comes the old familiar wail of the cold war nuclear attack warning.

Its six horns were each 3 feet (0.9 m) long. The siren could be heard from a distance of 20 to 25 miles (32 to 40 km) away and had an output of 138 dBC (30,000) watts. They were 12 feet (3.7 m) long, built atop a quarter section of a Dodge truck chassis rail, and weighed an estimated 3 short tons (2.7 t).

The main purpose of the [‘Big Red Whistle’] siren was to warn the public in the event of a nuclear attack by the Soviets, during the Cold War. The operator’s job was to start the engine and bring it up to operating speed, then to pull and release the transmission handle to start the wailing signal generation. The Chrysler air raid siren produced the loudest sound ever achieved by an air raid siren. – SuzukiBlaze

When the Chrysler Air Raid Sirens were being retired during the 1970’s a number of car enthusiasts sought out the Hemi V8s for use in bracket racing and street rods.

The Chemosphere: John Lautner’s Space Age Wonder

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The Malin House (Chemosphere) in the Hollywood Hills.

The Malin House (Chemosphere) in the Hollywood Hills.

If you had to choose one building to represent the most Modern of iconic Modern designs, you might well choose the Malin House (Chemosphere) in the Hollywood Hills. An octagon perched atop a twenty-nine-foot high, five-foot-wide concrete column like a flying saucer on a stick, the Chemosphere is recognizable even to those who know nothing else about mid-century architecture.

It was designed by groundbreaking architect John Lautner for Leonard Malin, a young aerospace engineer with a steeply sloping lot and $30,000 to spend on a house that would somehow perch upon it. Thanks to Lautner’s ingenious design and sponsorships by companies like Chem Seal (who provided experimental coatings and was rewarded by the building’s name), Malin got his wish. Malin and his wife raised four children in the house.

A Room With A View

A Room With A View – This innovative mid century modern home was featured in the Brian De Palma thriller, Body Double.

The one-story building is reached by a funicular and a concrete patio connects one side of it to the steep, lushly vegetated hillside. The bulk of the building hovers in an unlikely fashion above the hill, with windows on all sides to provide an astounding view of the San Fernando Valley.

Chemosphere Living Area - Mid-Century Modern Fantastic

Chemosphere Living Area – Mid-Century Modern Fantastic

Chemosphere Bedroom With A Different View

Chemosphere Bedroom With A Different View

Today this architectural wonder is owned by TASCHEN book publisher, Benedikt Taschen.

All photos by Julius Shulman / Getty Images
Sources: Los Angeles Conservancy and Vintage Los Angeles.

The M65 – Not The Spiral Galaxy, The Atomic Cannon

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Operation Upshot-Knothole – 25 May 1953

The M65 Atomic Cannon, often called Atomic Annie, was a towed artillery piece built by the United States and capable of firing a nuclear device. It was developed in the early 1950s, at the beginning of the Cold War, and fielded by 1953 in Europe and Korea.

On May 25, 1953 at 8:30am, the Atomic Cannon was tested at Nevada Test Site (specifically Frenchman Flat) as part of the Upshot-Knothole series of nuclear tests. The test — codenamed Grable — was attended by then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Arthur W. Radford and Secretary of Defense Charles Erwin Wilson; it resulted in the successful detonation of a 15 kt shell (W9 warhead) at a range of 7 miles. This was the first and only nuclear shell to be fired from a cannon.

The Grable mushroom cloud with the Atomic Cannon in the foreground.

The Grable mushroom cloud with the Atomic Cannon in the foreground. (Photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration/Nevada Field Office)

After the successful test, there were at least 20 of the cannons manufactured at Watervliet and Watertown Arsenals, at a cost of $800,000 each. They were deployed overseas to Europe and Korea, often continuously shifted around to avoid being detected and targeted by opposing forces. Due to the size of the apparatus, their limited range, the development of nuclear shells compatible with existing artillery pieces (the W48 for the 155mm and the W33 for the 203mm), and the development of rocket and missile based nuclear artillery, the M65 was effectively obsolete soon after it was deployed. However, it remained a prestige weapon and was not retired until 1963.

Of the twenty M65s produced, at least eight survive on display.