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These UFO-Like Buildings Are a Space-Age Tourist’s Dream

The future is now—follow this tour of UFO architecture found all around the world

Since this art museum in Brazil was completed in 1996, it has put the relatively unknown city of Niterói on the map. (SERGIO MORAES/Reuters/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Remember the future of yesteryear? It was supposed to include flying cars, humanoid robots and architecture that looked like it came out of a sci-fi illustrator's sketchbook. Society hasn't done very well on the car or robot servant front, but it turns out there are plenty of UFO-inspired buildings that keep the future (as imagined by the past) alive. In honor of the flying saucer-like craft that landed atop a newly constructed building in China's Shandong province, come along on a tour of some of the world's coolest UFO-like buildings.

Theme Building - Los Angeles International Airport (Los Angeles, California)

What better way to start your tour than at an airport? If you're flying out of LAX, you can't help but notice the Theme Building as you apporoach. Built in 1961, the building is all that's left of a failed plan to ensconce the airport's terminals under glass. It's a prime example of the Googie style of architecture that thrilled forward-thinking modernists (and incensed critics) throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Though the space-themed restaurant that used to sit atop the Theme Building closed abruptly in 2014, the building is still a California classic that could also serve as an alien craft.

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