Art deco is a contemporary decorative arts and architecture movement that originated in the 1920s in France after the First World War. It became the most popular architectural style in the United States and Western Europe. Art Deco buildings represented modernism through rich materials and intricate craftsmanship. So, the buildings were beautifully decorated and the construction cost was extremely high. 

However, during the Great Depression of the 1930s that happened by the time of the Second World War, art deco slowly ceased to exist. Even so, for the short time, the movement was in effect, it made a huge impact around the globe, and became a source of inspiration for many buildings for years to come. To understand more about the design, let’s have a look at these 15 amazing art deco buildings from around the world. 

1. Chrysler Building

Location: Manhattan, New York
Architects: William Van Alen

This 319 m art deco skyscraper is a monumental landmark in Manhattan. It is one of the most popular examples of art deco architecture in the world. Chrysler Building perfectly represents the art deco features with its terraced crown, distinctive ornamentation in both interior and exterior. 

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Chrysler Building_©architecturaldigest.com

2. National Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Location: Ganshoren, Brussels
Architects: Pierre Langerock, Albert Van Huffel, Paul Rome

This Roman Catholic Basilica was built to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Belgian Independence. The construction started before the art deco movement in 1905 and was put on hold due to the lack of enthusiasm of the population. However, after the art deco movement became popular, the architects added this style and it became an iconic church in the country.

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National Basilica of the Sacred Heart_©Wikipedia

 

3. LeVeque Tower

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Architect: Charles Howard Crane

Constructed in 1927, this 170 m skyscraper remained the tallest building in Columbus till 1974, before the construction of Rhodes States Office Tower. The architect was known for his grandiose designs, and he incorporated the art moderne style of art deco architecture. The design is inspired by the religious buildings of Byzantine architecture of the 4th to 13th centuries. 

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LeVeque Tower_©bizjournals.com

 

4. Eden Teatro

Location: Lisbon, Potugual
Architects: Cassiano Branco and Carlo Florencio Dias

The rise of the art deco movement coincided with the popularity of cinema. As a result, this magnificent cinema from the interwar period became a source of entertainment during the difficult times of war. However, the theater was closed in 1989 and was then renovated into a large hotel with 134 rooms. Now, only the ornamental friezes of the front façade remain, while the large hall was demolished.

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Eden Teatro_©Reddit

 

5. Palais de Chaillot

Location: Paris, France
Architects: Leon Azema, Louis-Hippostyle Boileau, Jacques Carlu

The 1878 Palais du Trocadero was partly demolished and then rebuilt for the Exposition Internationale of 1937. Featuring the artwork of many artists, the building was particularly influential during the Art Deco Movement. The iconic image of Adolf Hitler during his France tour in 1940 was shot on the front terrace of this palace. 

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Palais de Chaillot_©encirclephotos.com

 

6 The Empire State Building

Location: Manhattan, New York
Architects: William F. Lamb, Arthur Loomis Harmon, Yasuo Matsui, Gregory Johnson

Almost two years after the construction of the Chrysler Building, The Empire State Building broke its record of the tallest building in the world with a height of 443.2 m. However, World Trade Center took first place in 1970. Even almost 90 years after its opening, it remains one of the best examples of Modernist Art Deco architecture.  

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The Empire State Building_©history.com

 

7. Eastern Columbia Building

Location: Los Angeles, California
Architect: Claud Beelman

This glamorous building is often referred to as the “Jewel of Downtown”. Eastern Columbia Building’s vertical emphasis is accentuated by deeply recessed bands of paired windows and spandrels with copper panels separated by vertical columns. The façade is decorated with lots of motifs, such as sunburst patterns, geometric shapes, zigzags, and stylized animal and plant forms. 

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Eastern Columbia Building_©gq-magazine.co.uk

8. Palmolive Building

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Architects: Holabird & Root

The building was designed as an office for the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Corporation. However, Playboy Enterprises purchased it in 1965 and used it as their office for their magazine. The building is popular for its dynamic stepped design. 

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Palmolive Building_©structurae.net

 

9. American Radiator Building / Bryant Park Hotel

Location: Manhattan, New York
Architects: Raymond Hood and Andre Fouilhoux

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the building is a combination of the Gothic and modern styles of architecture. Three years after its construction, it was transformed into The Bryant Park Hotel, as we now know it. The black brick façade with rich golden ornamentation, marble, and black mirrors, is used to represent the solidity of the building and symbolize fire. 

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American Radiator Building_©anotherglobaleater.wordpress.com

 

10. Chicago Board of Trade Building

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Architect: William W. Boyington

Constructed in 1929, this art deco skyscraper is now one of the National Historic Landmark. Being 184 m high, it was the tallest building in Chicago till 1965, before the construction of Richard J. Daley Center. The building consists of many Indiana limestone piers, dark windows, and spandrels. While the shape of the building is constructed in streamlined geometry, its ornamentation is done in an abstract form, providing a striking emphasis. 

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Chicago Board of Trade Building_©architecture.org

 

11. Fairmont Peace Hotel

Location: Shanghai, China
Architects: P & T Group

This luxurious hotel building in Shanghai is an iconic example of art deco, featuring the edifices of the style. The building was constructed in 1929, during the peak time of the Art Deco Movement. A large part of the building consists of granite facing, while the upper floors and the roof are surfaced with terracotta. The strikingly beautiful pyramidal roof with steep sides in the eastern façade resembles the art moderne style of art deco. 

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Fairmont Peace Hotel_©viator.com

12. Cincinnati Union Terminal

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Architects: Fellheimer & Wagner

Spreading across the site of 116 hectares, this intercity train station and museum is known for its distinctive art deco architecture and interior design. It is also one of the National Historic Landmarks as it incorporates the art deco style through several contemporaneous works of art. The building is mainly for its set of sixteen mosaic murals depicting the Cincinnati industry, for which many artists were hired. 

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Cincinnati Union Terminal_©wvxu.org

13. Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts)

Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Architects: Adamo Boari, Federico Mariscal, Geza Maroti, Agusti Querol Subirats, Edgar Brandt

This cultural center in Mexico City was between 1904 and 1934. It houses a large theatre, concert hall, museum of popular arts, and halls and galleries for paintings and other works of art. The interior of the building is solely Art Deco, while the exterior is Art Nouveau and Neoclassical. 

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Palacio de Bellas Artes_©britannica.com

14. Supreme Court of Canada

Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Architect: Ernest Cormier

 The building consists of typical Art Deco details, including the marble walls and floors, grand interior lobby that contrasts with the châteauesque ( French Renaissance style) roof. 

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Supreme Court of Canada_©adfinternational.org

15. Guardian Building

Location: Detroit, Michigan
Architects: Wirt C. Rowland of Smith, Hinchman & Grylls

The building was built in 1929 and is considered a bold example of the Art Deco Movement. Both the interior and exterior of the building include an abundance of elaborate period details, including mosaics, murals, stained glass, and so on. Apart from Art Deco, the building also consists of features of Mayan revival, inspired by the designs of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures.

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Guardian Building_©flickr.com

Art Deco was born as a celebration of progress, capitalism, and machinery. It is a timeless decorative art and architecture movement that is still influential. . The golden period of the Art Deco Movement was the transitional time where traditional approaches were incorporated into modern contemporary buildings. Even today, designers and architects around the world are inspired by this movement. Though the complete practice of this style lost its way with modernism, many designs carry a few features of Art Deco.

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Tulisha Srivastava
Author

Tulisha Srivastava is a B.Arch student with a zeal for writing, reading, and traveling. She is an aspiring architect who wants to share her viewpoint with the architecture community. Tulisha has varying interests in the fields, which include historical buildings and the relationship between movies and architecture.

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