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January 25, 2009

It's an understatement to say that we're living in a weird time, but when it comes to all things automotive, it's especially trippy. A few months ago, we were either lamenting or welcoming a permanent regime of punishing European-style gas prices that would change our driving habits forever.

  From file "048_ARs" entitled "0407C_PORT_FINAL.indd" page 01
    From file "048_ARs" entitled "0407C_PORT_FINAL.indd" page 01
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From file "048_ARs" entitled "0407C_PORT_FINAL.indd" page 01
From file "048_ARs" entitled "0407C_PORT_FINAL.indd" page 01

But now we're swimming in cheap gas, just as the car companies are rolling out gas-sipping hybrids and all-electric vehicles, desperately banking on a change in consumer needs that may already have come and gone.
When green driving ceases to be a selling point, perhaps architecture can point the way. In Los Angeles, land of the car—and the gas station—BP built a LEED-certified "gas station of the future," called the Helios House. United Oil has tried something similar, but this time giving consumers interesting architecture as their marketing strategy; their updated Googie gas station, designed by Kanner Architects, was supposed to open in 2007 but may start fueling cars by Groundhog Day.

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