Art Deco

Art Deco Building Features


Art Deco Building Features

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Art Deco is a style of visual arts and architecture that became popular in the 1920s and 1930s. It is characterized by bold geometric shapes, rich colors, and ornamental details. Art Deco buildings have become iconic symbols of the cities they inhabit – from the Chrysler building in New York City to the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. These structures feature distinct design elements that set them apart from other architectural styles.
Art Deco architecture emerged in the 1920s and 1930s as a response to the industrial revolution and the desire for a modern aesthetic. It was characterized by its sleek lines, geometric shapes, and ornate styling. Art Deco architecture is still admired today for its unique features that blend traditional design with modernism. In this article, we will explore some of the key Art Deco building features that made this style of architecture so popular.

1. Geometric Shapes:

One of the defining features of Art Deco buildings is their use of geometric shapes. This can be seen in everything from the basic layout of the building to intricate details in decorative elements such as windows and door frames. Examples of these shapes include triangles, rectangles, diamonds, zigzags, and chevrons.

The use of these shapes not only added a modern feel to the buildings but also provided structure and balance to their designs. As architect William Van Alen once said about his design for the Chrysler Building in New York City, “The geometry was necessary because it gave me a structural system…otherwise it would have been just an arbitrary arrangement.”

2. Streamlined Forms:

Another important feature of Art Deco buildings is their streamlined forms. This refers to their smooth surfaces and lack of ornamentation on exteriors, which gave them an aerodynamic appearance similar to that of automobiles or airplanes.

Streamlined forms were achieved through the use of materials such as metal and glass, which allowed for large expanses of uninterrupted surfaces. This also resulted in less maintenance and cleaning required for these buildings compared to more ornate styles.

An excellent example of streamlined forms can be found in Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive district where several hotels built during this period showcase sleek designs with curving edges that evoke images from an ocean liner.

3. Decorative Elements:

While Art Deco architecture is known for its simple geometric structures, it also features elaborate decorative elements that reflect the era’s fascination with exotic cultures and newfound accessibility to materials such as chrome and nickel.

Art Deco buildings often included motifs from ancient civilizations, such as Egyptian or Aztec designs, which were integrated into various features like gargoyles, friezes and murals. In addition to these historical references, buildings also used more contemporary motifs with images such as cars, airplanes or women in flapper dresses.

One of the most famous examples of Art Deco decorative elements can be found in New York City’s Rockefeller Center where murals and sculptures were added as part of its overall design. This integration of fine art added another layer of sophistication to the building projects and helped establish a sense of permanence and enduring elegance.

4. Use of Color:

Another characteristic feature of Art Deco buildings is their use of color. Bold primary colors such as red, blue, yellow or green were often combined with metallic shades like silver or gold to create striking contrasts that emphasized the geometry and streamline forms.

Incorporating color was seen as a way to bring life and energy to a building’s design while also reflecting new technologies like neon lights that could illuminate these hues at night. As architectural historian David Gebhard states “Art Deco was an age in which architecture celebrated light…shapes could be enlivened by electric color.”

One well-known example where color played an important role in Art Deco architecture is Radio City Music Hall in New York City where bright red carpets contrast with pale gray walls adorned by ornate gold leaf decoration.

In conclusion, Art Deco building features are characterized by their blend of traditional design with modernism. Elements such as geometric shapes, streamlined forms, decorative motifs, use of materials like chrome and glass along with bright bold colors all contributed towards creating a distinct style within architecture history. These features have stood the test of time and continue to inspire architects today by showcasing the modernist movement that aimed to merge technology with art.

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