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Art Deco Architecture – A Modern Style of Visual Arts

Art Deco Architecture (1920-1930) is influenced by the Art Nouveau movement. It encompasses all types of arts, architecture, design, and visual arts, as well as furniture and other accessories. Also, it combines hand-crafted traditional crafts with machine-made products.

Art Deco takes inspiration from different architectural styles, and from both nature as well as abstract patterns. It also carries Egyptian influences.

Art Deco emphasizes geometric forms – squares, rectangles, polygons, spheres as well as trapezoids and zig-zags. New materials and the requirement of mass production, the embrace of new technology were the significant attributes of this style.

Features of Art Deco Architecture

  • Geometric Patterns, Sunburst Patterns
  • Rectilinear lines
  • Curved Building forms
  • Rare and expensive materials such as ebony and ivory
  • Exquisite Craftsmanship, Detailed craftsmanship
  • Glamour and Luxury
  • Reinterpretation of classical elements
  • low relief sculptural ornamentation

Examples of Art Deco Architecture

1. Chrysler Building

Image source: en.wikipedia.org
  • Building: Chrysler Building
  • Function/Use: Office
  • Location: Manhattan, New York City, U.S
  • Date of construction: 1928-1930
  • Architect: William Van Alen
  • Key Features: Art Deco Crown and Spire
  • Materials Used: Steel framework, Brick Masonry, Decorative metal cladding
  • Universal Value: U.S. National Historic Landmark, U.S. National Register of Historic Places, New York City Landmark
  • Structure: The Chrysler building is considered as one of the best examples of Art Deco Architecture and is the 11th tallest building(319m) in the city. It is constructed with a steel framework infilled with masonry and decorative metal cladding.
  • Façade: The building’s crown and spire, designed in the Art Deco style, extend into the clouds and celebrate the hour of the machine age. They are clad in stainless steel and constructed with seven radiating terraced arches. Triangular windows are arranged in an array in U-shaped arches depicting sunburst patterns. It gives the appearance of a Ziggurat on one side and a U-shaped palazzo on another side.

2. Empire State Building

Image source: unsplash.com
  • Building: Empire State Building
  • Function/Use: Commercial and office spaces
  • Location: Manhattan, New York City, U.S
  • Date of construction: 1930-1931
  • Architect: Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon
  • Key Features: Art Deco style ornamentation with pinnacles and sculptures, observation decks
  • Materials Used: Steel framework structure, Limestone panels, granite
  • Universal Value: U.S. National Historic Landmark, U.S. National Register of Historic Places, New York City Landmark
  • Structure: The Empire State building is considered as one of the finest examples of Art Deco Architecture and is the ninth tallest skyscraper building(319m) in the United States. The building has a symmetrical massing with its large rectangular base, central commercial space, and a shire as a crown with pinnacles.
  • Façade: The façade clad with Indiana limestone panels gives its unique signature style and color. The crown gradually decreases towards the upper layers in its symmetrical geometric forms which appear as if it reaches the skyline. Molded piers topped with eagles, geometrical patterns, sunburst patterns, reliefs, and Art Deco sculptures are the main attractions of the building.

3. Hoover Building Cafeteria

Image source: Wikipedia.org
Image source: flickr.com
  • Building:  Hoover Building and Cafeteria
  • Function/Use: Factory building, Manufacturing plant, and repair center
  • Location: Perivale, London, England
  • Date of Construction: 1932
  • Architect: Gilbert and Partners Architects
  • Key Features: Central entrance with Sunburst patterns
  • Materials Used: Masonry, glass frames, steel
  • Structure:
    • Hoover building – A linear building with huge columns projecting outwards, the central entrance is crowned with iconic patterns of geometrical sunburst patterns.
    • Cafeteria – Volumes of glass and masonry frames the building, where the central triangulated window forms the main focal point of the structure. It extends upwards, reaching its pinnacle.

4. The Daily Telegraph Building

Image source: knowledgebank.org.nz
  • Building: The Daily Telegraph Building
  • Function/Use: Home for Napier’s Newspaper
  • Location: Napier, New Zealand
  • Date of Construction: 1932
  • Architect: E.A. Williams
  • Key Features: Minimal external decoration, low relief sculptures
  • Materials Used: Reinforced concrete
  • Structure: The Daily Telegraph Building, built after the destruction of the city by an earthquake in 1931, was selected for an Art Deco style, which was a forward-looking style and of modern thinking.
  • Façade: The façade is linear, symmetrical, and abstract with a central portion slightly projecting outwards, and composed of pilasters and windows alternatively on either side. The capitals adorning the columns are an abstract of Corinthian columns of Egyptian Architecture.

5. Boston Avenue Methodist Church

Boston Avenue Methodist Church; Image source: wikidata.org
  • Building:  Boston Avenue Methodist Church
  • Function/Use: Church
  • Location: South Boston Ave, Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S
  • Date of Construction: 1927 – 1929
  • Architect: Adah Robinson and Bruce Goff Architects
  • Key Features: Vertical emphasis, terracotta sculptures
  • Materials Used: Limestone, Granite, Terracotta
  • Universal Value: U.S. National Historic Landmark, U.S. National Register of Historic Places
  • Structure: The church with its extraordinary vertical emphasis, comprising 15 floors stands as the finest example of Art Deco architecture. It is built using Indiana limestone and Minnesota granite.
  • Façade: The façade with its distinct vertical emphasis appears to be reaching for the heavens. The figural sculptures at the main entrance stand as a central attraction when one visits the church.

6. India Assurance Building

Image source: artdecomumbai.com
  • Building: India assurance building
  • Function/Use: office
  • Location: Mumbai, India
  • Date of Construction: 1936
  • Architect: Sarhe and Bhuta, N. G. Pansare
  • Key Features: vertical emphasis, geometrical lines in the design
  • Materials Used: reinforced concrete
  • Structure: The lengthy vertical lines and vertical ribs of sculptures gives a monumental appearance as well as emphasize the verticality of the building. It appears longer than the actual length of the building as if reaching the skyline.

7. General Electric Building

Image source: Wikipedia
Elaborate decoration symbolizing the power of radio caps the tower. Image source – newyorkitecture.com
  • Building: General Electric Building
  • Function/Use: offices
  • Location: Manhattan, New York
  • Date of Construction: 1931
  • Architect: John W. Cross & Cross
  • Key Features: Art Deco-style decorations symbolizing the power of electricity.
  • Materials Used: Brick masonry, terracotta decoration
  • Universal Value: U.S. National Historic Landmark, U.S. National Register of Historic Places
  • Structure: The structure is a 200m long octagonal tower comprising elaborate decoration of lighting bolts in Art Deco style, symbolizing the power of electricity.
  • Façade: The façade with brick masonry and terracotta decorations creates an impression of rich bronze color. The design of the crown of the building is influenced by the Gothic tracery in combination with Art Deco and it represents electricity and radio waves. The designs of piers, details, and reliefs depict lighting.

8. National Diet Building

Image source: tripadvisor.in
  • Building: National Diet Building
  • Function/Use: houses of National Diet
  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • Date of Construction: 1936
  • Architect: Watanabe Fukuzo
  • Key Features: Monumental appearance, symmetry
  • Materials Used: Japanese-sourced materials, Brick, wood, bronze
  • Structure: The National Diet building is one of the most recognizable buildings in Japan. Constructed using Japanese-sourced materials, the building stands as a distinctive façade with its massive dominating columns and a simplified geometrical crown. A wide circular driveway leads to the central main entrance welcomed by large bronze doors.

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