Art Deco

I give the Art Deco tour in downtown Los Angeles through the LA Conservancy. We really have amazing Art Deco buildings here, not just in downtown. This is driven home to me when I visit other places that also experienced massive growth in the 20s’ and 30s.

I was surprised by Wellington, I’d say this is my favorite city in NZ, which surprised me. Usually the capitol city is not as interesting as the business hub. Think DC and NY. And yet, Wellington is a much more interesting city than Auckland. I love this sign, it is right near the WETA Studios, where Peter Jackson works his magic. Turns out a lot of other people do as well. Because the where Wellington is located – this is very true, the city is extremely windy. I experienced that while riding an electric bike, the ride was fun, but without assistance I never would have made it.

Getting pictures of buildings in crowded cities isn’t easy. Here is one of the better Art Decos’ in Wellington. Btw, maybe it rains a lot in the winter (we had what I call, a winter vacation with long days, because our weather ended up being cold and rainy). Most of the buildings have this overhang over the sidewalk, in all the cities we visited. Yes, it disrupts the line of the building, but I can’t make it disappear.

Side view of this building. This is where I have to give a lot of credit to LA buildings (not just Art Deco, the same is true of Beaux Arts). The materials used are much more expensive. There is granite, sandstone and incredible tile. In NZ, a lot of wood is used and looking at the decorations, it is either painted wood or some form of plaster, although probably not on the exterior.

Here is an example (Beaux Arts) of a wood building, made to look more like marble. Funny how we try and fake the wood, and they tried to fake the marble.

All the elements of AD, the piers shooting up to the roof line. The roof not being flat, as well as having a lot of decoration up there. Interesting windows, the change of windows on every floor is an interesting touch.

I wonder if this one is what we would call transition. It doesn’t scream AD, but there are enough elements to put it in that category. I think what grabbed my attention here were the spandrels. The horizontal area between the windows. These are made of some metal that has patina’d to match the paint of the building. This is one of the few that I saw use this material. In LA, you see this often, which brings me back to my first point. LA had a lot more money to spend on building materials than Wellington did.

Very simple building. What I like is the addition of two floors later on. Clearly more modern, and yet the addition is well done. It compliments the building. In America we have a federal law that when adding to a federally recognized historic building, one must make the addition different. I have no idea if they have such a law, but I love that they did that. The windows are larger, the color has changed, and yet it works very well.

Someone is updating an old building on one of the popular shopping streets. I love the colors. Reminds me of South Beach in Miami, where they saved the Art Deco and for the show Miami Heat, they painted the buildings bright colors. Some people feel this destroys the purity, me, I’d rather you update the paint but maintain the building.

Speaking of non authentic colors…. this is in Nelson, much smaller town, great AD. Looking at this building I think those overhangs were built along with the building. So that will differentiate AD in NZ and other parts of the world.

In Nelson, what I saw was more Streamline Moderne, the later stage of AD. By the 30s’ we have the depression, all over the world. So rather than vertical soaring buildings, we have the more horizontal ones. That sort of mimic an ocean liner. Very clearly seen here. Btw this building houses a movie theater, and it’s still in operation.

I love this! I’ve never seen a building like this. Art Deco to the hilt, but what an amazing style and shape. Yes, I hate the advertising, but businesses need to prosper. I may think of a building as art, but it must function, and if that means I have to overlook the signage, so be it.

Lovely, simple building, I even like the overhang. One reason I like it is because its’ a fabric and sewing machine store! We were here on a Sunday, so I couldn’t go in. There was also a yarn store around the corner, but it too was closed. Not only that, it’s up for sale. Anyone want a yarn store in Nelson NZ? Looked like a lovely place to live.

Finally, in Nelson, a Chabad Menorah. Chabad is everywhere in the world, welcoming traveling Jews. The only thing about this that makes me wonder if it wasn’t them. That night was the first night of Chanukka, not the second. And believe me, they know their Judaism. So it’s a mystery.


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