Building Styles

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Academic Eclectic

This decorative style reflects a greater fidelity to historical models that characterized the post-Victorian period. After 1890 a greater accuracy in the use of form and detail reemerged in the Academic Eclectic period, which extended into the 1920's and 30's. The eclectic mode encouraged choice among competing sources or historical periods, and the term is used broadly by architectural historians to describe a variety of mixed-styled structures.

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Art Deco

Refers to the style predominantly of architecture and the decorative arts, widely disseminated in Europe and the United States in the 1920s and 1930s, which became popular after the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Modernes in Paris in 1925. The style is characterized by a synthesis of industrial and fine arts materials used to create a wide variety of both man-made and mass-produced objects, often with an emphasis on rectilinear motifs, vibrant colors, and elegant, abstracted, simplified forms.

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Beaux-Arts

The style of architecture and city planning originally taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and at other schools in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. The style is characterized by an emphasis on the harmonious composition of elements that form a Classical whole, the revival of Baroque and Neoclassical styles, and cities laid out geometrically with wide, grand streets.

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Chicago School

In general terms, refers to the movement among architects and engineers, principally Daniel Burnham, William Le Baron Jenney, John Root, and the firm of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, during the late 19th century that ultimately led to the development of the skyscraper and a distinct modern style of architectural design featuring steel and iron skeletons clad with masonry, simple exterior decoration often in red brick or terracotta, the rejection of historical forms, and the use of blocky geometric volumes. They were among the first to promote the new technologies of steel-frame construction in commercial buildings, and developed a spatial aesthetic which co-evolved with, and then came to influence, parallel developments in European Modernism. Some of the distinguishing features of the Chicago School are the use of steel-frame buildings with masonry cladding (usually terra cotta), allowing large window areas and the use of limited amounts of exterior ornament. Elements of neoclassical architecture are reflected in Chicago School skyscrapers, as many resemble a column. The first floor functions as a base, the middle stories act as a vertical shaft, and the building is capped with a semi-traditional cornice. The "Chicago window" originated in this school. It is a three-part window consisting of a large fixed center panel flanked by two smaller double-hung sash windows.

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Classical Revival

This style refers to late 18th- to early 20th-century architecture and ornament based relatively closely on ancient classical forms.

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Collegiate Gothic

A secular version of the Gothic style, derived from the college buildings at Oxford and Cambridge. It was popular in North America from the 1880s to the 1920s and used for academic buildings and other institutional structures.

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Colonial Revival

Refers to the movement in architecture and interior design prevalent in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in countries formerly colonized by Great Britain. The style, mostly seen in domestic architecture and promoted as a picturesque 'national' style, is a direct resurrection of building styles of the early colonial periods and of the Neo-Georgian period.

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Commercial Style

A skeletal, rectangular style of the first five-story to fifteen-story skyscrapers, brought to full form in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. It was characterized by flat roofs, and minimal ornament except for slight variations in the spacing of windows. Extensive use of glass was made possible by its steel-frame construction, which could bear the structural loads that masonry could not.

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Craftsman

The Craftsman style is an American domestic architectural and interior design popular from the 1900s to the early 1930s. A reaction to Victorian opulence and the increasingly common mass produced housing elements, the style incorporated aspects of clean lines, sturdy structure, and natural materials. The name comes from a popular magazine published in the early 1900s by furniture maker Gustav Stickley called The Craftsman, which featured original house and furniture designs by Harvey Ellis, the Greene brothers, and others. The designs were influenced by the British Arts and Crafts Movement, as well as American Shaker and Mission styles.

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Decorated Pioneer

Similar to the Pioneer style homes except for the addition of band-sawn wooden decoration. Ornamentation is in the form of fancy gable ends often with open scrollwork at the peak and with patterns of fancy butt shingles. Door and window trim may be more decoratively shaped with a simplified pediment. Occasionally, the front living room window and the front door transoms are in an ornate glass pattern. Roof forms may be more complicated with a side gable. Porches with turned or chamfered posts might occur. These buildings are essentially the basic Pioneer houses with a little more ostentation as expressed in fancy carpentry work.

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French Normandy

Like Tudor style houses, 20th-century French Normandy homes may have decorative half-timbering. Unlike Tudor style homes, however, houses influenced by French styles do not have a dominant front gable. The Norman Cottage is a cozy and romantic style that features a small round tower topped by a cone-shaped roof. Other Normandy homes resemble miniature castles with arched doorways set in imposing towers.

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French Provincial

Balance and symmetry are the ruling characteristics of this formal style. Homes are often brick with detailing in copper or slate. Windows and chimneys are symmetrical and perfectly balanced, at least in original versions of the style. Defining features include a steep, high, hip roof; balcony and porch balustrades; rectangle doors set in arched openings; and double French windows with shutters. Second-story windows usually have a curved head that breaks through the cornice. The design had its origins in the style of rural manor homes, or chateaus, built by the French nobles during the reign of Louis XIV in the mid-1600s. The French Provincial design was a popular Revival style in the 1920s and again in the 1960s. Unlike French Normandy houses, French Provincial homes do not have towers.

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Futurist

Refers to the literary and artistic movement centered in Italy that emphasized speed, dynamism, energy and a rejection of the past, which began with the writings of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti in 1909. Futurist ideas in architecture are represented by drawings and city plans of utopian societies, and were characterized by anti-historicism and long horizontal lines suggesting speed, motion and urgency. This artistic movement lasted until 1944. After its inception, Futurism has become a more generic word to designate the broad trend in modern design which aspires to create a sort of prophetical architecture, thought to belong at least 10 years into the future. Futurism is not so much a style as an ideal, an open approach to architecture. Consequently, it has been reinterpreted by different generations of architects across several decades, but is usually marked by striking shapes, dynamic lines, strong contrasts and use of advanced materials.

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Gothic Revival

Refers mainly to the style in English and American architecture and decorative arts from the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century. The style is characterized by the use of rosettes, pinnacles, tracery, foils, and polychrome effects inspired by Gothic architecture and reproduced with the aim of historical accuracy. In theory, the style lasted until the Art Deco movement of the 1930s, but in practice architectural design based on these medieval forms continues to the present day. Another term often used in conjuction with this style is Neo-Gothic.

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International Style

The style of architecture that emerged in Holland, France, and Germany after World War I and spread throughout the world, becoming the dominant architectural style until the 1970s. The style is characterized by an emphasis on volume over mass, the use of lightweight, mass-produced, industrial materials, rejection of all ornament and color, repetitive modular forms, and the use of flat surfaces, typically alternating with areas of glass.

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Late Victorian

Refers to the Victorian style, mainly in architecture and decorative arts, produced from about 1870 to about 1901. While the Gothic Revival still dominated, architecture and decorative arts reflected a renewed interest in Classical, Baroque, and vernacular forms and encompassed new influences such as the Queen Anne and the Beaux Arts styles. In decorative arts, the influence of Japanese art objects, the Arts and Crafts movement, and the Aesthetic movement simplified the Victorian tendency toward heavy ornamentation.

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Medieval Revival

Broad term used to describe European inspired forms, evocative of pre-Renaissance motifs and defense related architecture.

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Mediterranean Revival

An eclectic design style that was first introduced in the United States around the turn of the 19th Century, and came into prominence in the 1920s and 1930s. The style evolved from a renewed interest in European Renaissance palazzos and seaside villas dating from the 16th Century, and reflects the architectural influences of the Mediterranean coast: Italian, Byzantine, Moorish themes from southern Spain, and French. Parapets, twisted columns, pediments, and other classical details are frequently used. Arches are also often featured. The most common materials are stucco walls, red tile roofs, wrought iron grilles and railings, wood brackets and balconies, and oolitic limestone, ceramic tile and terra cotta for ornament. Patios, courtyards, balconies, and loggias replace the front porch.

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Mission Style

This subtype of the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture style, characterized by simplicity of form and ornamentation, enjoyed its greatest popularity between 1890 and 1915. The Mission (Revival) Style was an architectural movement that began in the late 19th Century and drew inspiration from the early Spanish missions in California. All of California's missions shared certain design characteristics, owing both to the limited selection of building materials available to the founding padres and an overall lack of advanced construction experience. Each installation utilized massive walls with broad, unadorned surfaces and limited fenestration, wide, projecting eaves, and low-pitched clay tile roofs. Other features included long, arcaded corridors, piered arches, and curved gables. Exterior walls were coated with plaster (stucco) to shield the adobe bricks beneath from the elements.

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Modern

A term given to a number of building styles with similar characteristics, primarily the simplification of form and the elimination of ornament, that first arose around 1900. By the 1940s these styles had been consolidated and became the dominant way of building for several decades in the late-20th century.

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Prairie School

Refers to the movement, centered mostly in the American Midwest among architects, notably Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright, united by the rejection of revivalist styles and by the development of a new architectural vision based on the faithful expression of the natural qualities of a region or nation. The style generally favored elongated horizontal arrangements that blended naturally with the open American landscape.

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Queen Anne Style

Refers to the style of domestic architecture in England and the United States in the late 19th century. Drawn from the architecture of Queen Anne's reign (1702-1714) and mixed with features found in 17th century Dutch architecture. Buildings are characterized by asymmetrical or irregular plans, the use of red brick and stone dressing, broken pediments, sash windows, and shaped gables.

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Renaissance Revival

The style in 19th-century European and American architecture and decorative arts initially inspired by the Italian Renaissance and characterized by pilasters, rustication, and classical motifs. Later, it includes Renaissance styles based on regional or national variations such as the Elizabethan and Jacobean revivals and the French Renaissance revival styles. The Renaissance Revival style was popular during two separate phases. The first phase was from 1840 to 1885, and the second phase, which was characterized by larger and more elaborately decorated buildings, was from 1890 to 1915. Common features of Renaissance Revival houses are: square plans; balanced, symmetrical façade; smooth stone walls, made from finely-cut ashlar; low-pitched hip roof; full roofline entablature topped with balustrade; horizontal stone banding between floors; segmental pediments; centrally located doors; ornately-carved stone window trim varying in design at each story; smaller square windows on top floor; and quoins.

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Richardsonian Romanesque

A style of American architecture named after architect Henry Hobson Richardson, essentially a very free revival style inspired by this architects work in the 1870s and 80s. It emphasizes clear strong picturesque massing, round-headed "Romanesque" arches often springing from clusters of short squat columns, recessed entrances, richly varied rustication, boldly blank stretches of walling contrasting with bands of windows, and cylindrical towers with conical caps embedded in the walling.

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Romanesque Revival

Refers to the style in European and American architecture dating from the 1820s to the end of the 19th century. Based on the style of the 11th- and 12th-century Romanesque church architecture, it is characterized by: semicircular arches; groin and barrel vaults; monochromatic brick or stone finish; arched corbel tables along eaves; arcades; and battlemented parapets.

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Rustic

The style of American architecture that mimics rough hewn logs and/or extensive use of large stones in its construction or decoration. It is especially identified with fanciful outdoor structures such as hermitages and grottoes made popular by the landscapes of 18th-century English country homes.

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Shingle Style

Refers to the movement in America between 1879 and 1890 headed by John C. Stevens (1855-1940), characterized by the use of wood shingles to cover entire buildings and a predilection for functionalism rather than for historical, learned styles. This movement, which grew out of the Stick and Queen Anne movements, prevailed more among private homes and hotels rather than among industrial or commercial sites and featured free-flowing, open plans with interlocking interior and exterior spaces, irregular elevation, open porches, and irregular roof lines that contributed to an overall pastoral effect.

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Spanish Colonial Revival

Refers to the movement in Colonial Revival architecture during the 1920s evident in the building programs of the American West and Southwest and generally features Spanish-style balconies, verandas and arcades, towers, pan-tiled roofs, and plazas and courtyards. Most notably, the style features a lack of architectural moldings and the heavy use of carved or cast ornament, classically-derived columns, window grilles, and wrought iron or turned spindles reminiscent of Spanish colonial architecture in Mexico.

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Tudor Revival

Drawn from domestic architecture of the Tudor period dating 1485-1547, Tudor Revival refers to the style of English architecture and interior design in the first half of the 19th century and again in the early 20th. It's architectural forms and decorative motifs include diapered brickwork, decorative half-timbering, steeply pitched roof, prominent cross gables, tall narrow windows, and massive chimneys, often topped with decorative chimney pots.

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