10 Buildings Shaped Like What They Sell

iStock/CJMGrafx
iStock/CJMGrafx

Looking for a good way to advertise your business? Why not shape your headquarters like what you sell or offer? It’s worked out pretty well for these businesses and groups.

1. The Hood Milk Bottle

This one’s a Boston institution. In 1933, Arthur Gagnon wanted to open an ice cream stand in nearby Taunton, and he designed his new business to look like a giant milk bottle. After several changes in ownership (and a sail from Quincy to Boston proper), the structure is now known as the Hood Milk Bottle and resides at the Children’s Museum. It’s 40 feet tall and could hold 58,000 gallons of milk.

2. The Longaberger Company, Newark, OH

Longaberger is known for its handcrafted maple baskets, so its headquarters are obviously shaped like a giant basket. Not just any old basket, though. It’s a Longaberger Medium Market Basket that’s been blown up to 160 times its normal size. The basket includes a seven-story atrium, heated handles that prevent ice formation, and two 725-pound gold leaf Longaberger tags. Want to take a look the next time you’re in Ohio? Longaberger has visiting hours!

3. Twistee Treat Ice Cream

Between 1983 and the mid-1990s, Twistee Treat opened 90 or so ice cream shops around the country, and each one is shaped like a delicious cone of soft-serve vanilla. Want your own towering cone? A completely stocked one in Zephyrhills, Florida, is on the market for a mere $475,000. Or, if you’re on a budget but good with tools, the same listing also offers “A Separate Dismantled Ice Cream Cone Building” at the bargain price of $40,000.

4. Kansas City Public Library’s Parking Garage

Parking garages are usually eyesores, but this one’s beautiful. The garage for Kansas City’s Library is cleverly concealed behind what look like the bindings of 22 giant books. What’s really terrific is that local residents got to help pick what books would get the nod for 25-foot renderings on the side of the garage. Some of the tiles that made the cut: Catch-22, Invisible Man, The Lord of the Rings, Silent Spring, and Charlotte’s Web.

5. House of Free Creativity, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Kansas City doesn’t have a monopoly on book-shaped buildings, though. Turkmenistan cut the ribbon on this open book in 2006 as part of an effort to create a comfortable environment for journalists. Of course, “free creativity” may be a bit of a stretch. The journalists in question all work for Turkmenistan’s state-run press, and the country had no foreign or private media and very little open Internet access when the building opened during the reign of the late dictator Saparmurat Niyazov.

6. United Equipment Company, Turlock, CA

United sells and rents heavy equipment like compactors and excavators, so it’s only natural that the company’s headquarters building is shaped like a two-story yellow bulldozer. The bulldozer building, which opened in 1976, is “using” its redwood treads and giant blade to move a pile of boulders. 

7. The Phoenix Financial Center, Phoenix, AZ

Financial services made early use of massive punch-card-driven computers, and the Phoenix Financial Center looks as if it’s offering an odd tribute to this antiquated technology. The entire building has narrow slits for windows and looks like an oversized punch card. According to Phoenix’s municipal government, though, the resemblance was purely accidental; the narrow windows are there to minimize the effects of the hot desert sun on the building’s air conditioning bills. Nevertheless, local residents still refer to it as “the Punchcard Building.” 

8, 9 and 10. And the Rest!

Furnitureland South's 85-Foot Tall Highboy is more statue-attached-to-building than building itself, but the North Carolina landmark is still worth a mention. As is BMW's Four Cylinder building in Munich, which architect Karl Schwanzer designed to stand out next to the eye-catching Olympic buildings in the area. And while Japan's Banna Park Birdwatch isn't an egg store, we just couldn't leave it out. Birdwatchers on Ishigaki Island can view their avian friends from the comfort of an enormous egg. Visitors can even climb up to the top level of the egg to get some fresh air and a view from the broken tip of the shell.
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These certainly aren't the only buildings shaped like what they sell. Have you seen any examples in your travels?

What People In the '50s and '60s Thought Houses Would Look Like in 1986

The Monsanto House of the Future was an attraction at Disneyland's Tomorrowland 1957 to 1967.
The Monsanto House of the Future was an attraction at Disneyland's Tomorrowland 1957 to 1967.
Photo courtesy Orange County Archives/Wikimedia Commons

In 1957, Monsanto demonstrated its vision for future housing, emphasizing one word: plastics. Its House of the Future was displayed at Disneyland from 1957 through 1967, and it envisioned a future home from the then-distant future of 1986. The house featured lavish conveniences including a microwave oven, ultrasonic dishwasher (for plastic dishes, of course), "cold zones" to replace refrigerators and freezers (with a special zone for irradiated foods), and dimmable ceiling lights—and that's just the kitchen.

While the House of the Future was a little silly around its plastic edges, a lot of its vision was actually correct. We do indeed use microwaves, we have lots of plasticware and even plastic furniture (hello IKEA), and Monsanto's vision of easy cleanup flooring is very realistic (though plastic may not be the most common material, Monsanto's heart was in the right place). Some details like electric toothbrushes and intercom/security systems ring true. The exterior architecture of the house was slightly Jetsons, but frankly, I've seen condos with very similar design cues. The Danish Modern living room looks thoroughly modern-retro to me (although it lacks art on the walls). Check out these videos and see what 1957 thought 1986 would look like. How'd they do?

One big mistake in its vision that stands out to me is the use of height adjustment on virtually everything (right down the children's sink)—everything in the house uses tracks to hide when not in use. While we have a little of that today, it isn't exactly pervasive; it just looks cool in a demo. The other major difference is Monsanto's attempt to sell plastic as a classy material for everything. On the whole, people of the future (meaning us) don't see plastic as classy, and indeed have gone retro on what we think denotes quality—we're looking for steel, wood, and even materials like cork that had no place in the House of the Future. On the flip side, we seem just fine with buying plastic stuff (even pretty stylish plastic) if it's a bargain (again, IKEA and even Target come to mind here).

In a little side-trivia, the House of the Future was very hard to demolish. Apparently a wrecking ball bounced right off the shell (plastics!) so the house had to be ripped to pieces with saws, taking weeks. 

Susan B. Anthony’s Childhood Home in Upstate New York Is Getting a $700,000 Renovation

George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress // No Known Restrictions on Publication
George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress // No Known Restrictions on Publication

In 1833, a 13-year-old Susan B. Anthony moved with her family to a two-story brick house in Battenville, New York, where her father managed a cotton mill. Though Anthony only lived there a few years before financial troubles caused her family to relocate once again, it was in that house that she first became aware of the deplorable state of women’s rights—setting her on a path to change the course of history.

According to The Cultural Landscape Foundation, Anthony’s father started homeschooling her after a local teacher refused to teach Anthony long division on the grounds that women didn’t need the skill. Then, a temporary stint at her father’s mill revealed that the wages of many female employees went directly to their husbands or fathers, and Anthony learned about the gender pay gap firsthand when she was hired as a schoolteacher for a much lower salary than her male predecessor.

Right now, there are only two small indicators of Anthony’s history in the Battenville house—a placard on a nearby stone retaining wall and a sign on a post in the front yard—and the house itself is riddled with black mold and moisture damage.

But that’ll change soon: House Beautiful reports that New York’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which purchased the foreclosed property for just $1 back in 2006, is now planning a $700,000 renovation that includes general repairs, drainage improvements, and mold abatement. A considerable portion of those funds was collected by Senator Betty Little and Assembly member Carrie Woerner.

Whether the house will eventually become a museum remains to be seen. It’s located on a perilous curve on Route 29, and there’s very limited surrounding land or space for parking. Having said that, locals are committed to finding a worthy purpose for it after the restoration is complete. Debi Craig, former president of the Washington County Historical Society, told the Times Union that she thinks there’s potential for an international research center or library on women’s rights.

Regardless of what the Battenville house’s second life ends up looking like, the focus on this particular historic site is perfectly timed—not only does 2020 mark the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, it’s also Susan B. Anthony’s 200th birthday.

Learn more about the trailblazing suffragette here.

[h/t House Beautiful]

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