Strange Architectural Typeface Choice

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

This is a building in downtown Los Angeles. It's a pretty straightforward classic-style building, what with doubled Ionic columns and all the usual classic Greek/Roman detailing one expects out of these sorts of buildings. But, at some point in the building's life, it was renovated, and whoever was in charge decided the best typeface to use on the pediment there would be something that made the building look like a backdrop in a bad 80s scifi movie. Like that really should say "Terran Space Senate Headquarters" or something.

It's such a strange and jarring contrast, I'm surprised it got the go-ahead. But I think I like it.



  1. So close to the Blade Runner font, but not quite. (Neither is it the Galactica font, Cinemajay).

  2. The font looks to me like Stop. That’s the font Steve Jackson used for his Car Wars game series. And yes, Car Wars was created in the early 80s.

  3. Yeah, my first thought was BSG TOS, but those “E”s are really looking like Jackson’s Stop font.

    Given LA’s car culture, that seems wildly appropriate.

  4. I like it too. If you can relax your eyes a bit and look at the whole facade without thinking about the building as being “Greco-Roman” specifically, then the font shape actually plays fairly well with the other design elements.

    It’s all about mental context, the font is only out of place because someone in the 80’s thought it looked futuristic and slapped onto a bunch of movie props. There’s no particular reason why the Romans couldn’t have used those letter shapes and left us with the impression that Time New Roman is the futuristic one. I think we get tied too much to the learned context of objects and ignore the actual visual impact of them because the context doesn’t feel right.

  5. Stop is the original name, created in 1970 by Italian type designer Aldo Novarese, the same guy who gave us Microgramma/Eurostile, which shows up in everything from Star Trek to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  6. I’ve been to this theatre for a production of Threepenny Opera. The whole place is filled with this same sense of awkward and surreal anachronism. For example, the interior is a large clean hardwood floor similar to an art gallery, but surrounded by dilapidated stone. Then there’s a cheap restaurant inside which adds to the surreality. The theatre is actually downstairs and is very vertiginous and hip. I’d say this is one of those buildings that could only exist in LA, in all its awkward ironic splendor.

  7. @2/deckard68,

    I guess I was looking at the combined look: classical architecture + futuristic font.

  8. Hey, right on! I noticed that building when in LA last. It’s right near a boutique named “Crack,” if I remember….

  9. Yes, that typeface is definitely Stop, or a knockoff of it. I remember seeing it in Letraset catalogs back in the ’80s, when I was a graphic design major. Howard Chaykin used it for the PlexMall’s signage in his SF comic series American Flagg.

  10. It’s Stop. Scottsdale is one of its knockoffs.

    I’m sure it’ll eventually come to look like quaint period typography. Right now it just looks painfully dated.

    Could be worse; could be Peignot.

  11. I still have a typographic stiffie for those funky sciencefictiony fonts. Like Stop. And fifty million other pretty yet barely readable display types. There’s infinite variety, really.

  12. I can’t believe they missed the opportunity to use Papyrus! Think about it… old building, great underused old-timey font. It would have matched perfectly!

  13. the LATC is a defunct theatre company the building was a bank before being gutted by the LATC and remodeled. There are five very state of the art (circa. 1985) performance spaces inside. The juxtaposition of old and new was a deliberate design choice.

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