1920's architecture


The 1920's were a time of much advancement in the history of architecture throughout United States. Art Deco was developed and popularized by a recent interest in Egyptian and Aztec art. This was a change from the previous European Art Nouveau style which was defined by curved lines and floral design. The architectural trends also continued on the pathway of modernization and began incorporating International Style.

The prosperity of the economy after World War I made construction of many architectural projects across the country possible.

Art Deco:

Art Deco was a significant trend in 1920's architecture as it was popularized with the start of the Roaring Twenties and died along with them. The origins of Art Deco can be traced back Paris in 1925 at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts.

The European work of this exhibition impacted the American architects and designers who attended it.

The Art Deco style is defined by its decorative motifs, geometrical lines, and symmetrical designs. Mixed metals are used alongside contrasting jewel tones. This style could be seen in public, corporate, and industrial buildings.

Revival Styles:

Revival-style architecture (buildings constructed reflecting earlier architectural trends) was a common form of construction in the 1920's. Some historians believe this style became popular at this time because it gave American's a sense of historical and cultural significance. Architectural revivalism was exemplified by many designers who utilized historical European and Asian styles in their modern buildings. North and South American influences can be seen as well as classical elements in contemporary form.

American Modernism:

American Modernism contrasted the historical spotlight of revivalism. It developed alongside the economic, social, and technological changes during this time. Many architects during the 1920's played around with different materials and techniques to create these modern styles.

Frank Lloyd Wright:

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright was born on June 8, 1967 in Wisconsin.

In the first decade of the twentieth century, Wright's work was defined by his Prairie School style architecture. By the 1920's he had transitioned to the cubist and modernist styles.

He criticized the International Style for being dependent on the machine, but his modern work was instead using the machine as a tool in the hands of the artist. Though he didn't build many buildings in the 1920's, his construction methods and combinations of nature and modern design made him a significant American architect in history.


One type of building that characterized the 1920's would be the skyscraper. The skyscraper first emerged in the cities like New York City and Chicago. With the beginning of the decade, ornately designed skyscrapers became popular. By the end of the decade, they were replaced by vertical, geometric, and equally large buildings. This was a time period of growth, and the record breaking, tall buildings definitely fit into this trend.


Bungalows-small homes with one of one and a half stories- were an affordable and versatile style house that many Americans worked to own in the economically flourished time of the 1920's. They symbolized the prosperity of middle-class America. Bungalows were eye-catching but they followed the Arts and Crafts movement of clean, geometric lines and details. Their popularity lasted until the time of ranch housing, but came back in the late twentieth century. They represent the aesthetic preferences and cultural changes of the American dream in the 1920's.


From the elaborately decorated skyscrapers to the small arts and crafts bungalow the 1920's were a big time for architecture. This time period was marked by the mixture of building materials, construction methods, and styles used in domestic and public architecture. Unlike the short lived Art Deco style that defines the 1920's, the other influential International Style building methods continued on into the 1930's and became apparent after World War II.