L.A. architect made mark with gas station, In-N-Out Burger designs
Stephen Kanner, who died earlier this year of pancreatic cancer at age 54, was something of an outlier among architects of his generation for the sheer volume and range of his output. The son and grandson of Los Angeles architects, Kanner moved with near-inevitability into the family business and in his 30s was designing the kinds of projects that most architects these days don't land until they are nearing 60 — or even 70. With his colleagues at Kanner Architects, which he began running in his early 40s after the 1998 death of his father, he produced expansive private houses, condominium projects, courthouses, guest cottages, rec centers, affordable-housing developments, retail outlets and even a gas station.
How and why the gas station, designed for United Oil at the corner of La Brea and Slauson avenues turned out to be one of Kanner's best-known and well-liked designs is among many fascinating threads running through a richly layered exhibition of his work at the Architecture and Design Museum until Jan. 16.
With a dipping, curving, swooping roof meant to suggest a stacked freeway interchange, the station is a celebration of the car, the highway and the dream of free-flowing mobility, with exuberant and oversized signage to match.
-- Christopher Hawthorne
Photo: Stephen Kanner’s swooping United Oil gas station is among his best-known and liked designs. Credit: Joan Linden.