Category: Unusual Favorites

Dingbat Living is Great

What is a “Dingbat”?   A dingbat (also called a stucco box or a shoebox), is a type of architecturally undistinguished apartment building that flourished in the Sun Belt in the 1950’s and ’60’s. Dingbats are characterized as boxy, two- or three-story apartment houses with overhangs sheltering street-front parking.  While dingbats are widely reviled as socially alienating visual blights, They are currently experiencing a minor sentimental renaissance thanks to the Mid-Century Modern craze, but still, many people find them somewhat less than desirable.

Lesley Marlene Siegel is a Los Angeles native and an artist and a photographer, and she began her series, “Apartment Living is Great”, in the early ’90s, as the photographic documentation of apartment building names, bringing to light their importance in landscape and community history.

Lesley had a show in Australia several years ago documenting her work and they published a 48 page soft cover book that includes over 90 black and white high quality reproductions and an in-depth interview with the artist. Hand-numbered limited edition production of only 1965 world-wide are available at Outre Gallery.

Writer and illustrator Mark Frauenfelder, co-founder of and past editor at Wired, wrote an excellent article a few years ago in the L.A. Weekly, “HOW I CAME TO LOVE THE DINGBAT“. 

You couldn’t make an uglier building if you tried. Los Angeles is full of dingbats — boxy two-story apartments supported by stilts, with open stalls below for parking. (Their name is likely to have been coined by architect Francis Ventre while he was lecturing at UCLA in the early ’70s.)Thousands of the inexpensive 16-unit structures were built in the late ’50s and early ’60s to accommodate the huge number of people moving to Southern California. Forty years later, the smog-stained, sagging dingbats are still here, and have become as much a part of the LA landscape as medfly traps and on-ramp pistachio vendors.”

Most people assume that these “dingbats” are only an Los Angeles phenomenon, but the interesting thing is they’re all over Seattle!

In Rainier Valley

In Ballard

In Fremont

In Sunset

In Phinney Ridge

In Burien


Seattle has expanded upon the standard Dingbat apartment building, however, and added a few new materials to the vernacular.  Instead of pure stucco (which doesn’t hold up here very well in our wet climate), you’ll find dingbats in Marblecrete (shot through with beautiful sparkles), T1-11 siding, shale and brick. 

More information and photos of Dingbats around the country:

Wikipedia’s take on Dingbats

Flickr set on Dingbats

Dingbat Living
from The Aesthetic

A distant relation to the Dingbat is Googie architecture. Googie is well-known in Southern California, but there are also examples of this cool 50’s iconographic architecture in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.

Googie Architecture in Seattle



A great example of vernacular architecture from Florida, exact location, unknown.

Unusual Home that looks like a dog

Bull Dog Cafe

Photo by Joan Romer. On the back lot of the MGM/Disney Studios Park. It was the café that the movie the Rocketeer was filmed.

Dog Bark Park

Unusual B&B House that looks like a dog

Dog Bark Park Inn is a bed and breakfast guesthouse in the body of the World’s Biggest Beagle located at Dog Bark Park on Hwy 95 at Cottonwood, Idaho. Guests enter the body of the beagle from a private spacious 2nd story deck. Inside and up another level in the head of the dog are a loft room for additional sleeping accommodations and a cozy reading nook in the dog’s muzzle.

Dog Bark Park Inn

Strange Doggie building in Australia. Any ideas about this one?

Unusual Dog that might be a house

Featured in the book Barkitecture, by Fred Albert, are some of the most inspired and fantastic abodes for dogs ever built. In addition to doghouses by architects — Wright, Gwathmey, Antoine Predock, Centerbrook and NBBJ, for example — there are works by notable interior designers like Robert Couturier.”

Barkitecture is a tribute to the fabulous homes we silly humans love to build or buy for our beloved pets. Dozens of truly spectacular dog houses are featured in full color with details on their design, construction, and the dogs who call them home. It is at once a history of dog houses, a fun coffee table book, an inspiration for your own designs and a resource for those looking to have a doggy home designed for their pampered puppy.

Book Review of Barkitecture from Tacky Living

Barkitecture the book

Unusual Dog House

Examples of professionally built dog houses and kitty condos from Animal House or Barkitecture animal rescue fundraisers held throughout the United States.

Unusual dog homes

Do you know any more buildings shaped like dogs? Or unusual dog houses? Please let us know!