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8 Art Deco Buildings Architecture Lovers Need to See
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December 3, 2019
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Travel Trivia Editorial
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Art Deco architecture continues to charm and delight architecture buffs with its sleek lines, ornate beauty, and geometric flair some 100 years after it rose to prominence. Short for Arts Décoratifs, or decorative art, this style infuses decorative elements into the objects and spaces of everyday life.

It typically signals a bold, exuberant, and elegant approach to design, which is perhaps why it has never gone out of style. Are you an architecture enthusiast? If so, you'll want to include these eight Art Deco buildings on your list of must-visit destinations.

Chrysler Building (New York, New York, United States)

Chrysler Building in New York City at nighttime
Credit: JacobH/ iStock

The Chrysler Building is probably the most famous Art Deco building in the world. Designed by William van Alen and standing at 1,046 feet, this Manhattan landmark was for a short time the tallest building in the world. It surpassed the Bank of Manhattan in height when a 125-foot spire was added to the top.

Both the sunburst designs leading up to the top and the eagle gargoyles scattered across its facade give it a charm unmatched by most skyscrapers its size. At the request of Walter P. Chrysler, there are also various automobile motifs integrated into the decorative framework of the building.

Though it's overshadowed by the Empire State Building nearby, the Chrysler Building is one of the most iconic structures gracing the Manhattan skyline.

Fairmont Peace Hotel (Shanghai, China)

Night scene in Shanghai, China with view of the Fairmont Peace Hotel to the left of the Bank of China
Credit: repistu/ iStock

This Art Deco gem, which is topped by a marvelous emerald green pyramid, has been part of the Shanghai skyline for more than 80 years. Considered an elegant confluence of dynamic design and classical craftsmanship, the ultra-glamorous Fairmont Peace Hotel continues to draw in visitors who appreciate Shanghai's cosmopolitan lifestyle.

The hotel offers 270 luxurious guestrooms and 39 opulent suites. Don't miss the iconic Dragon Phoenix restaurant and The Jazz Bar if you decide to stay at this hotel.

Meanwhile, architectural buffs will appreciate that the hotel overlooks the world-famous waterfront known as The Bund. In colonial China, it reigned as the "Oriental Wall Street."

Today, many travelers know The Bund as an "Exhibition of International Buildings." And, it doesn't disappoint. The majestic buildings sit in a row, almost two miles long, on the west bank of Huangpu River. International banks, opulent hotels, and world-class museums populate The Bund, representing a distinctive merging of East and West.

Palais de Chaillot (Paris, France)

Palais de Chaillot overlooking the fountains
Credit: abadesign/ Shutterstock

The first Palais de Chaillot was built to host the 1878 World's Fair. When France again won the honor of hosting the World's Fair in 1937, a new Palais de Chaillot was erected. Today, this Art Deco marvel is home to three museums, a theater, an aquarium, and a restaurant, making it a critical site in Parisian culture and the perfect place to spend an afternoon on a Paris vacation.

Whatever you do, don't miss the Cité de l'architecture et du Patrimoine, an architectural museum. It exhibits historical reproductions of thousands of monuments that once called the Musée de Monuments Français (Museum of French Monuments) home.

If you're looking for a spectacular view after spending time in the museum, just head outside. The wide esplanade in front of the complex is the perfect vantage point for catching a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and the Champs de Mars. Finally, the Palais de Chaillot also overlooks the stunning Jardins du Trocadéro (Trocadero Gardens). The highlight of the gardens is the Fountain of Warsaw, which consists of 20 water cannons and 12 major water fountains (each spouting water more than 30 feet into the air).

The Delano (Miami, Florida, United States)

The front of the Delano Hotel in South Beach, Miami
Credit: Eurovisa/ Wikimedia Commons

By all indications, the city of Miami can be considered a monument to Art Deco, since the style played a huge aesthetic role in the city's development. In that light, few will argue against The Delano being named the crown jewel of Art Deco design in the city.

The Delano was designed by Philippe Starck and features an elegant white facade that contrasts the often blue Miami sky. It also has a stunning outdoor pool replete with inviting cabanas, making it one of the most relaxing places in the world to bask in the glory of Art Deco design.

Luna Park (Sydney, Australia)

Luna Park all lit up at night
Credit: FiledIMAGE/ Shutterstock

After the success of his first park on Coney Island in New York, entrepreneur Herman Phillips decided to bring the Art Deco concept to Australia. A whimsical Art Deco-inspired theme park was what Phillips was after.

Luna Park opened in 1935 and has been delighting visitors ever since with its fantastical architecture and colorful Art Deco features. Melbourne-based artist Rupert Browne created the first of the eight giant faces flanking entrances to the park. Browne's bizarre face sculpture comes with wide-smiling features and is suspended between two Art Deco decorative towers. At the top of the towers are spires similar to the one on the Chrysler Building (another Art Deco architectural treasure).

There have been numerous efforts to preserve its historical charm and beauty for future generations. In 2003, the new owners completely refurbished all the buildings and rides to ensure they'd be in working order for decades to come.

Bryant Park Hotel (New York, New York, United States)

View of buildings in New York City with Bryant Park Hotel on the left
Credit: rocks3/ iStock

Another of New York City's Art Deco marvels is the black brick tower known as the Bryant Park Hotel, located inManhattan on West 40th Street. The American architect Raymond Hood used symmetrical black bricks (symbolizing coal) and Gothic gold detailing (symbolizing fire) to give the building a sleek Gothic-Art Deco look. He did so to celebrate the building's original use as the headquarters of the American Radiator Company; coal fires were the heat source for radiators then.

Though the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building tend to get all the glory when one talks about Art Deco in Manhattan, the Bryant Park Hotel actually predates both of those iconic skyscrapers. Today, the famous hotel leverages its sophisticated and unique framework to offer Manhattan tourists a luxury hotel option that feels both contemporary and timeless.

Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico City, Mexico)

The Palacio de Bellas Artes in downtown Mexico City
Credit: traveler1116/ iStock 

Thanks to a huge effort by the World Monuments Fund, the impressive ombre dome of the Palacio de Bellas Artes has recently been restored, meaning that visitors to Mexico City will be able to enjoy this stunning example of Art Deco architecture for generations to come.

In addition to its eye-catching architectural design, the building features numerous murals created by some of Mexico's most esteemed artists, including Diego Rivera, Roberto Montenegro, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. The Palacio de Bellas Artes is also the location of Mexico's National Theater and the National Museum of Architecture.

Pantages Theater (Los Angeles, California, United States)

View looking into the audience from the stage at Pantages Theater
Credit: Christian Dionne/ Wikimedia Commons

Los Angeles is another city where Art Deco architecture is built into the landscape, but few examples are as jaw-dropping as the elegant Pantages Theater. That's because it packs so many elements of this design style into every part of the theater. Everywhere you look, you'll find chevrons, zig-zags, figurative statues, and sunburst designs.

The geometric radiating patterns in the metallic finishes of the theater's ceiling and throughout the building showcase the best of what this design style has to offer, making the Pantages Theater a global treasure.