The Safeway on Hawthorne at 28th is pictured here in 1975 with an eerily vacant lot. Though it was a crappy due to poor management and ham-fisted renovations, the building had interesting roots from an architectural perspective.
Safeway on Hawthorne at 29th, 1975
Hawthorne at 29th, 1975
Hawthorne at 29th, 1975.
Beyond the broad expanse of oil stained macadam and poor selection, this 33,000 sq ft store had the distinction of being one of the last “Marina prototype” store designs in the metro area still held by Safeway. So named for the 1959 debut location on Marina Blvd in San Francisco, this groundbreaking prototype had three variants but all featured a distinctive serpentine roof carried by soaring glulams. This afforded a voluminous sales floor almost entirely absent of columns. The exuberantly modern design made the brand a standout among the monotony of grocers, with a bank of tall plate-glass windows fronting the street, flanked by twin entrances against a masonry core. A tragically butchered example still survives in Lake Oswego and there are several which have been converted to other uses like Hong Phat Food Center on 82nd at Burnside. Some communities have even sought historic preservation for these threatened buildings but they hardly stand a chance in the face of impatient corporations and developers attracted to the acres of parking on which they stand. I should also note Safeway did remodel a Marina at their MLK Jr. Blvd. location but with pretty sad results. They basically crammed their current design typology, “Lifestyles”, into the space with little to no accommodation for the unique opportunities afforded the dramatic 25′ ceiling.
By the early 1970s, Safeway began to move away from its modernist designs as stores were increasingly embedded in shopping centers and residential neighborhoods. Safeway like McDonald’s, chose bland, innocuous designs and retail architecture entered a nondescript era.
North Elevation: Hawthorne Safeway 2010. A 55,000 sq ft store unconvincingly disguised as a row of pleasant shoppes.
The new Safeway on Hawthorne. A bland pastiche of historicism. Photo: Brian Libby
The soulcrushing blandness of bad design here on full display! Photo: Brian Libby
The old Hawthorne Safeway in its final iteration. Here a parapet masks the roof. c.2011 Photo: The Oregonian
The Lake Oswego Safeway. Mural in progress on right. 1964 Photo: LO. Public Library
Lake Oswego marina Safeway prior to disfiguring. 1998. Photo: Safeway Inc.
The Lake Oswego Safeway in 2016. Photo: Google
Alternations to the Marina have broken it’s strongest asset, the curving roof.
This awesome Arvid Orbeck mural is now buried behind drywall in the floral department after a 2013 remodel. Photo: LO. Public Library
The sad fate of another local Marina this one in Burlingame. Demolished in 2014. Photo: Dornoff
The Hong Phat Food Center carries the unmistakable “gullwing” variation of the Marina type. Here seen from 82nd ave. Photo: 2016 Google
So much potential! Photo: hongphatmarket.com 2016
Greatness averted! The interior still retains vestigaes of mid-90s (awful) corporate branding such as perimeter department branding. Photo: 2016 hongphatmarket.com
1959, The original Marina Safeway in San Francisco was the most lavish of that style with 4-ft louvers and elaborate masonry.
Marina Safeway 1959. While in SF, Khrushchev was supposed to view the new store –a paragon of American plenty, efficiency, and affluence. The store was meticulously arranged and prepped to showcase capitalism in it’s best light but on a whim he demanded to go to another store instead.
The east side of the building has lavish mosaic murals by John Garth.
The murals depict food being transported from the four corners of the globe.
Garth created murals for three other Safeway stores but never reached this level of refinement.
Dedication ceremony, Marina Safeway. 1959
Interior of the Marina San Francisco store.
Typical Safeway interior, here in Abilene, TX. 1960
Rendering of a Marina sans louvers.
Safeway Honolulu, HI. 1960
This 1968 Safeway in Alamo, CA displays the shallow pitched roof of what is colloquially referred to as the “Gable style” Marina.
A 1963 Marina-style store with historical murals in Ashland, Oregon honoring a famous local Shakespearean theatre.
Not all Safeway designs were distinct. This flat roofed store in Edmonton, Alberta shows the more bland modernism possible here.
This Safeway in Walnut Creek typafied the staid, barrel roof designs prior to Marina and similar across the industry.
Penn Fruit had arguably the most dramatically futuristc designs ever conceived for a US grocer but was a bit player. Over-expansion and leverage drove the chain bankrupt by 1978. 1955 Photo: Philadelphia Sign Co.
Prominent LA. architectural historian Alan Hess had this to say about a similar location,
“Safeway’s prototype exemplifies how businesses, as good corporate citizens and neighbors, invested in good architecture for buildings that were part of the daily life of millions.”
Sadly, the 55,000 sq ft building which replaced the one on Hawthorne is an ill conceived festival of schmaltz rendered in stucco and styrofoam. Ironically, it was not Safeway but Target which recognized and preserved the inherent greatness of a Marina and gives us a sense of what the Hawthorne store might have been in more inspired hands. At an old marina in San Diego, Target beautifully reimagined and celebrated the iconic roofline and modern aesthetic as an innovative Target Express neighborhood convenience grocery store. Fitting that a retailer on the make would take inspiration from cast offs of the once innovative Safeway as that company cedes its dominance and retreats into pat historicism.
Target Express, South Park, San Diego. Photo: Google
The gluelams have been smartly deployed for maximum impact. Photo: Target Corp.
Target Express, South Park, San Diego. Photo: Target Corp.
At nightfall, the ceiling becomes a celebration of rhythm. Photo: Target Corp.
Editors note: If this sort of thing turns your crank you should check out the excellent site Groceteria.com and specifically their far more exhaustive history of Safeway here. The fantastic site Pleasant Family Shopping chronicles the history of retail design and is also a fun way to waste a few days!