ART DECO (1930 - 1950)

Art Deco loudly announced its presence at Paris' Exposition des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in 1925. In 1922, Eliel Saarinen brought the style to the United States when he entered the Chicago Tribune Tower design contest and came in second. The machine age inspired the geometric patterns and curves found in this style. Art Deco did not simply stay in the realm of architecture. Jewelry, appliances and furniture also incorporated Art Deco concepts in their design. Art Deco is more of a decorative application in the architecture than stylistic ideology. The style is widespread in commercial buildings, but rarely found in residential architecture. Other commonly applied names to the style include Zigzag Modern, Cinema Style, Depression Modern or Jazz Modern.

Primary Stylistic Features
  • Vertical emphasis.
  • Rooflines are stepped or flat.
  • Concrete is a common material used in construction to achieve smooth white surfaces.  However, polychromatic examples exist with painted concrete.
  • A minimum of one of the following decorative elements:  zigzags, chevrons, sunburst, fluting, banding or other references to the machine age.
Secondary Stylistic Features
  • Projections are often incorporated into the roof design.
  • Glass brick and tile are used to decorate the building.
  • Windows are often large with metal sashes.
  • Additional decorative features that are distinctly non-Western.

Evaluation Considerations

Art Deco buildings are not found in clusters in Alaska. Art Deco buildings can contribute to the significance of a district, but most often will be considered for individual eligibility. To be eligible, an Art Deco building must have all the primary characteristics and at least one of the secondary features. Inappropriate treatment to the concrete surfacing can result in ineligibility. Due to their relative scarcity, evaluators should exercise flexibility when assessing integrity.

For Further Information

Bayer, Patricia. Art Deco Architecture, Design, Decoration and Detail from the Twenties and Thirties. London: Thames and Hudson, 1999.

Craig, Robert, Atlanta Architecture: Art Deco to Modern Classic 1929-1959, Gretna, La.: Pelican Publishing Co., 1995

Dunlop, Beth, Miami: Mediterranean Splendor and Deco Dreams, New York: Rizzoli, 2007