Art Deco Architecture: (1925 - 1937)

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Bank of America, Providence, Rhode Island

The use of Art Deco was first seen in a 1925 exhibition in Paris that celebrated the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. This architectural era made use of elements including elegant design, modern structures, and functional spaces. For big businesses, it allowed a company to be able to show off their wealth and success. Banks used the style to convey security while Hollywood used it to portray a concept of wealthy living. Art Deco's bold, linear symmetry is clearly very different from the soft pastels and flowing asymmetrical organic forms of Art Nouveau. (1)

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The Art Deco spire of the Chrysler Building in New York, built 1928?1930

Areas of use:

Art Deco buildings decorate the skylines of major cities in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, and Rockefeller Center are among the most widely known examples of this style. Other than the buildings of the U.S., the largest collection of Art Deco buildings can be found in Riga, Latvia. (2)


Art Deco architecture can be described as a combination of prosperity, optimism, exotic materials and fine craftsmanship. (1) These elements are combined in such a way that creates a very unique form of architecture. Architects were inspired by the shapes and decorations of Native American artwork. The use of these shapes along with terraced pyramids, zigzag designs, and the strong use of illusion in pillars are all characteristic of Art Deco Architecture. These elements were mainly used in the designs of public and commercial buildings. Although the Art Deco style was generally not applied to residential structures, it has been adapted and used in apartment building design. (4)


Art Deco is characterized by the use of materials such as aluminium, stainless steel, lacquer, bakelite, chrome and inlaid wood. Exotic materials such as shark skin (shagreen) and zebra skin have also been used with this style. Since this style was highly influenced by art and fashion design, these materials were commonly used as inspiration in Art Deco architecture. For example, the sunburst motifs (a common characteristic of the style) were used in a variety of contexts such as womens' shoes, radiator grilles, radio and clock faces, the auditorium of the Radio City Music Hall, and the spire of the Chrysler Building. (2)

Famous Buildings:

- Empire State Building in New York City

- Radio City Music Hall in New York City

- Art Deco Buildings in Queens, New York

- Art Deco in Miami


American Colonial
Neoclassical / Federalist / Idealist
Greek Revival
Arts and Crafts
Art Nouveau
Beaux Arts
Art Deco
20th Century Trends

References: (1) (2) (3) (4)