Art Deco (Art Moderne) Furniture ....... Styles of Architecture

Moderne / Art Moderne / Streamline Moderne
in Buffalo, NY


TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Click on illustrations for larger size

190 Franklin St. .
Moderne style: horizontal emphasis.

190 Franklin St..
Horizontal gray bands.

190 Franklin St..Stylized (abstracted) floral panel

190 Franklin St..

190 Franklin St..
Stylized figure sculpture: Greek tragedy mask.

Buffalo Industrial Bank (1941)
at 690 Fillmore Avenue

Greyhound Bus Terminal

Architectural style found principally in buildings constructed in the 1930s following the earlier Art Deco.

One influence was the beginning of streamlined industrial design for ships, airplanes, and automobiles. The smooth surfaces, curved corners, and horizontal emphasis of the Art Moderne style all give the feeling that airstreams could move smoothly over them; thus they were streamlined.

Sometimes Moderne (or Art Moderne) is identified with Art Deco. Although somewhat different in their overall appearance, both styles share stripped down forms and geometric-based ornament.

The Art Moderne style has a distinctive streamlined or wind-tunnel look. The streamlined effect is emphasized by the use of curved window glass that wraps around corners.

Common Moderne characteristics include:

  • Horizontal orientation (as opposed to Art Deco's vertical orientation)
  • Rounded edges
  • Corner windows
  • Glass block walls
  • Mirrored panels
  • Ribbon or band of windows with metal frames
  • Stringcourse along coping of wall
  • Flat roof
  • Curved canopy
  • Smooth wall finish
  • Aluminum and stainless steel often are used for door and window trim, railings and balusters

Sources of information:

  • July 2000 Preservation Coalition Art Deco Tour, Tim Tielman, tour guide
  • "Identifying American Architecture," by John J.-G Blumenson. New York: Norton. 1981

Art Moderne (1930-1945)
By Francis R. Kowsky
Excerpt from Intensive Level Historic Resources Survey: City of Buffalo: Broadway-Fillmore Neighborhood

Art Moderne succeeded Art Deco in popularity in the 1930s and remained popular through the 1940s.

More curvaceous than the angularity of the previous style, Art Moderne represented a simplification of the Art Deco by abandoning the use of costly hand-crafted delicate decorative panels and sculptural ornament.

Instead, Art Moderne favored bolder, more industrial, machine-derived aesthetic that utilized manufactured materials overlaid with abstracted elements for decorative effect. Often called streamlined modern, the style emphasizes visual associations between the curves, port hole windows, fins and horizontal chrome or aluminum speed line motif moldings.

Due to relatively little new construction during the great Depression and the war years of the 1940s, the Art Moderne style was often used to reface older commercial storefronts.

Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood

The Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood has one of the best surviving examples of an Art Moderne commercial building in the City of Buffalo located at the intersection of Broadway and Fillmore Avenue (950 Broadway). Designed by Bley & Lyman, this 1940 department store building has a largely intact sleek façade faced with granite, light cream terra cotta, stainless steel and punctuated with bands of continuous windows. The building is notable for its curved corner, a signature feature of the Art Moderne.

Bley & Lyman also applied the Art Moderne style to another building in the Broadway-Fillmore commercial district, the Buffalo Industrial Bank (1941) at 690 Fillmore Avenue (See photo bove). This small one-story bank was the first-drive-in bank in the city. It was built as a one-part commercial block of brick with Mansota stone facing and bronze fixtures. The one-part block is a simple rectangular building often with an ornate facade. It is most often utilized for retail or office space, and was a popular commercial design in small cities and towns during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Examples in Buffalo:

See also: Highlights of Buffalo's History, 1930-1945

Photos and their arrangement © 2002 Chuck LaChiusa
| ...Home Page ...| ..Buffalo Architecture Index...| ..Buffalo History Index... .|....E-Mail ...| ..

web site consulting by ingenious, inc.