If ever there was a building that gets zero love when it comes to design (even with all that oil money), it's the homely gas station. All utility. No aesthetics.
But over the years, more than a few companies -- not to mention some famous architects -- have taken their best shot at building a service station worthy of design accolades. Here are 12 of the coolest that are still in use.
Copenhagen, Denmark Designed in 1937 by Arne Jacobson -- a famous Danish architect most well-known for his spartan chairs -- this minimalist, Meissen-tiled station still looks modern today.
United Oil Station
Los Angeles, CA This $6.5 million-dollar LA gas station -- built in 2009 out of glass, stainless steel, and concrete -- features a swooping, 8,100sqft canopy designed to resemble the city's iconic freeway overpasses.
Jack Colker Union 76
Beverly Hills, CA The slanted triangular roof was built in 1965 as part of LAX airport, but was converted into a gas station when it proved superfluous. It’s now a prime example of “Googie architecture" -- Jetsons-like structures inspired by the Space Age.
R. W. Lindholm Service Station
Cloquet, MN It might not look like much, but this service station was way ahead of its time when it went up in 1958. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the station was one of the few pieces of his grand, utopian plan for a city of the future (Broadacre City, look it up) that actually got built.
Leicestershire, UK This futuristic gas station, which looks like a bunch of psychedelic 'shrooms, was designed by American architect Eliot Noyes in the 1960s. His "Pegasus" style was meant to reflect the joy of driving, as well as create recognizable Mobil stations that required no signage. While around 20,000 of them were built by the 1980s, this English spot run by Esso is the last one left... in the world.
Los Angeles, CA Attracting visitors with its shiny, futuristic, faux Frank Ghery facade, Helios House is considered “the gas station of the future.” The First LEED-certified station in the US, it's roof is covered with solar panels and cacti (to collect rainwater), which reduces the building's need for heating and cooling and cuts energy consumption by 16%.
Tank + Cut
Konstanz, Germany Ever been filling up your tank and thought, "You know what, I could really use a haircut right now"? And then you walked inside and had them take a little off the top? Of course not, unless you live in Konstanz, Germany. Apparently a German need for efficiency has led to this chainlet of hybrid gas stations-slash-barber shops, which hopes to add another 100 locations this year.
Orbit Gas Station
Orange Vale, CA With pointy tips that jut out at crazy angles, these winged behemoths are another example of the aforementioned space-aged, "Googie" architecture. Once ubiquitous, today only a handful of these stations remain around the country.
Across Spain Like a modern update on the "Pegasus" look, these stations designed by Foster + Partners (as in Norman Foster) feature clusters of attention-grabbing red, yellow, and orange canopies that resemble trees.
Asmara, Eritrea Sent by Mussolini to this former Italian colony, Italian Art Deco and Futurist architect Giuseppe Pettazzi designed this airplane-inspired gas station. Legend has it that he reportedly forced skeptical workers to build the “wings” without the use of pillars at gunpoint, as they believed it would collapse otherwise. It did not, and still stands today.
Galanta, Slovakia Czech architectural firm Atelier SAD created this super-sleek Slovak station out of concrete and timber. Again, it seems like a modern twist on one of Eliot Noyes’ ‘60s designs.
Chevron Floating Station
Vancouver, Canada Ok, this one's not necessarily cool for its design, per se (it's pretty much just a floating dock), but check out that view!
Sophie-Claire Hoeller is Thrillist's über-efficient German associate travel editor, and has had frequent flyer status since she was born in a Lufthansa terminal. Follow her @Sohostyle