Walter Dorwin Teague

Texaco Gas Station Design

Though not as seemingly monumental as some of his other pieces, Walter Dorwin Teague’s Texaco Gas Station design deserves to be in his portfolio because of how widespread it became. Imagine driving down the interstate with your family on a roadtrip for miles and miles. You come across a gas station every once in a while, and the one called Texaco jumps out to you. It’s not that it’s the most frequented gas station everywhere you look, or even the brightest and most colorful per se. Instead, you notice that every single gas station looks exactly the same, as if a cookie cutter or a stamp pressed it into the American scene all over the map, dotted across the country. And that is the beauty of this piece of work: out of any piece of work Teague created, there is a high likelihood that this one was the most viewed of all. The very essence of his Art Deco, streamlined, practical, and functional innovation.

When looking at the minimal, streamlined efficiency of the layout, it’s hard to comprehend that Teague was not a trained architect. Yet, when you look above the flat-surfaced roof at the large, simple, retro type-face, you gather that Teague was a typographic genius. Typically, when I view a work such as this, I automatically assume that a large team of designers came up with its various components – but not the case here. My favorite moment in the whole scene is where the three lines going around the entirety of the building are met with the broken corner. On the left, the lines are along the surface of the building itself, but then the lines break away, seemingly on their own, to form the rim of the overhanging roof that juts out over the pumps. And as gas stations often are today, the station is not overcrowded by cheesy advertisements or candy bars, but left to be appreciated in its beautifully minimal state. He even thought to include two garages along the side for lubrication and washing on the back side of the building! (As can be seen in his concept rendering below) I hope to pass an old Texaco one day. And I hope that if I do, I will immediately recognize it and pull over for a photograph (quite possibly with a Kodak). It makes me wonder if the station was appreciated for the gorgeous design that it is in its time of glory?

Walter Dorwin Teague, Texaco Concept Rendering, 1936



Walter Dorwin Teague: Designer of the 1930s: Gas Stations