5 Iconic Architecture Styles

Architecture is more than a practical concern. It’s also a form of art, and different building designs use specific flourishes and features to express ideals and social values. If you’ve ever been curious about the style of a particular building, the following guide will prove enlightening. 

5 Architecture Styles & Their Key Characteristics

1. Art Deco

Art deco buildings emerged in the 1920s and are characterized by sleek, clean lines and geometric motifs. The style was conceived as a rejection of ornamental classical styles and represented social and technological progress. Many of the first skyscrapers were created in the art deco style to express the future of design. Famous examples include New York City’s Empire State Building and Chrysler Building.

2. Baroque

Baroque buildings are often likened to enormous sculptures due to their dramatic features. The style was developed in the 16th century and appealed to the senses by creating areas of light and shadow. St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is one of the most famous examples of this architectural style. 

3. Neoclassical

This 18th-century movement celebrated classical architecture, which originated in ancient Greece and Rome. While undeniably simple, neoclassical is grandiose, with soaring columns and stark, smooth walls. The focus on symmetry was thought to be an antidote to more ornate styles. Examples of neoclassical architecture include the White House and U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. 

4. Bauhaus

Originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century, Bauhaus emphasized pared-down, purposeful design. Buildings designed in this style are often described as efficient and free of unnecessary artistic flourishes and ornamentation. Founded by architect Walter Gropius, the goal of this movement was to forge a connection between art and industry. Gropius and his wife left Germany in the late 1930s and settled in Massachusetts, building a home in this unique style.

5. Postmodern

Postmodern architecture arose as a response to the austerity of the 20th-century modernist movement. This style is often considered to be exaggerated or ironic with campy overwrought accents that veer towards the absurd. This style can be found in New York City’s AT&T Building and the Guggenheim Museum’s location in Bilbao, Spain.