Who Knew Gas Stations Could Be Beautiful? Architectural Marvels from the Mid-Century

Modernist Gas Stations 2

It’s likely you didn’t even notice the architecture of the gas stations you pulled into this last labor day weekend… but if you did it was probably not because they looked good. Most places you fill up have had their design considered for about 0.2 seconds – before moving on to placing the soft drinks quickly at hand, the dingy toilets hidden somewhere out back and the credit card machine handy. That hasn’t always been the case however, as seen by these beautiful modernist designs from the bygone era – when cars were chrome covered and filling up the tank was the station attendant’s job.

Back in that era, architects like Albert Frey, Mies Van Der Rohe, and Willem Dudok didn’t shy away from gas station design, and turned out some masterpieces channeling the mid-century ethos of forward thinking. Our favorite in this small collection is the 1958 design for Dutch fuel company Purfina. Look at the lines of this fantastic building! It’s a marketer, typographer and architect’s dream all rolled into one. It looks like the kind of thing you mock up in drafting class, knowing that it will never become a reality.

It’s high time we start considering gas/petrol/fuel station design again. This is a forgotten realm of design that is dying for a revival. See more examples in this collection at Present & Correct.

Modernist Gas Stations 1

Modernist Gas Stations 3

Modernist Gas Stations 4

Modernist Gas Stations 6

Modernist Gas Stations 7

Modernist Gas Stations 8

Modernist Gas Stations 9

Modernist Gas Stations 10

Benjamin Starr

Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

Promoted Content


  1. Great photos, but for completeness I should add that the top photo (Purfina) is by Sybold van Ravesteyn, and the next one down is by Arne Jacobsen. Probably uniquely that one still sells gasoline from just outside Copenhagen.

  2. E Shaversays:

    I’m told the Esso station won several archectural awards . It I believe is in Arizona . Great shots , all of them !!!!!!!!!

  3. Hello,
    My name is Steven and I am currently a video intern for the San Diego Automotive Museum.
    I was put on assignment to gather old gas station photos from around the 1950s to 1970s, and am impressed with the photos I’ve found on your page.
    I’m writing to you seeking your approval that I may use a photo in a slideshow/video I’m producing.
    The end of the slideshow/video will hold credits to all those whom have contributed to the making of the video.

    Thank you so much for your time and amazing webpage!

Leave a comment

Please be polite. We appreciate that. Your email address will not be published and required fields are marked