Built primarily in the ’50s and ’60s, the dingbats are usually simple two- to four-story wood and stucco structures which are balanced on small beams or poles to accommodate parking spaces on the first level. They are found throughout the country, but primarily in California and the West.
Most dingbats are remarkable only in their complete lack of any distinguishable qualities. The builders of some dingbats, however, chose to decorate their flat facades with all sorts of gaudy decorations like tikis, cutout fish, planets and stars. Others sought to achieve individuality by giving them unusual or elegant names.
You’ve probably drove past them for years and never gave them a moments thought, but they’re beginning to garner some attention, no doubt because of the rise in popularity of Mid-Century Modern style.
Artist Lesley Marlene Siegel is a photographer, and she began her series, â€œApartment Living is Greatâ€, in the early â€™90s, as the photographic documentation of apartment building names, bringing to light their importance in landscape and community history.
Mark Frauenfelder, a writer and co-founder of BoingBoing wrote the first article I ever read about the architectural style, How I Came to Love the Dingbat, first published in the LA Weekly. (Mark, who is also an artist and illustrator, is currently showing at Seattle’s Roq la Rue Gallery, where he has unveiled a series of paintings done in a storybook style with a dash of childrenâ€™s manga and secret arcane symbolism, and is on view through December 2nd.)