Beaux Arts style
The Beaux Arts style (1885-1930), named for the premier French school of architecture, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, was introduced to the USA by architects like Richard Morris Hunt who attended the prestigious school in the late-19th century.
Hunt designed the Newport, Rhode Island mansion of Cornelius Vanderbilt, ‘The Breakers’, in this style in 1892. The Beaux Arts style was most often seen in places where turn-of-the-century wealth was concentrated, major urban centers and resort communities.
The popularity of this style was advanced by the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. With its grandiose treatment of classic architectural forms, the Beaux Arts style was seen as an ideal expression of both corporate and civic pride. Buildings of this style are both formal and monumental with abundant and opulent decorative details.
The Beaux Arts style is especially suited for public buildings designed to deliver a strong symbolic message, such as libraries, museums, court houses, train stations, college buildings, post offices, schools, and government offices. Privately-owned Beaux Arts style mansions delivered a message as well, one of personal wealth.
The Beaux Arts style uses formal symmetry, Italian Renaissance form, and classical Greek and Roman decorative elements like columns, pediments and balustrades to create a grand and imposing architectural statement. Exterior decorative details include may include quoins, balconies, terraces, porches, and porticoes as well as ornamental windows and grand entrances. This style also featured lavish interiors including pilasters, arched openings, elaborate chandeliers, coffered ceilings, or marble fireplaces.
Commonly identifiable features of this style include:
- Flat or low pitched roof.
- Wall surfaces with decorative garlands, floral patterns or shields.
- Symmetrical façade.
- First story rustic stonework.
- Grand and imposing in size and scale.
- Roof line balustrade.
- Pedimented or arched windows.
- Columns on porches and porticoes.
The State Capitol Building in Harrisburg (see image below), completed in 1906 and designed by Joseph Huston, is a penultimate example of this style. Envisioned as a "palace of art," the Capitol building has opulent detail and classically inspired design. Described by President Theodore Roosevelt at its 1906 dedication as "the handsomest State Capitol I ever saw," the State Capitol is Beaux Arts style architecture at its most extravagant.
This article was written by PHMC.
 Find out more
- Architectural styles.
- Art Deco.
- Art Moderne.
- Art Nouveau.
- Arts and craft movement.
- Baroque architecture.
- Chicago school of architecture.
- Classical orders in architecture.
- Classical Revival style.
- Colonial Revival style.
- Concept architectural design.
- Italian Renaissance revival style.
- Neoclassical architecture.
- Palladian architecture.
- Polite architecture.
- Prairie School style.
- Spanish Colonial revival style.
- Stick style.
- The history of fabric structures.
- Tudor revival style.
- Vernacular architecture.
 External references
- PHMC - Beaux Arts style
The Construction Industry Council’s (CIC’s) ‘CIC Coronavirus Digest – Issue 8’ surveys the latest government advice with updates from the construction industry.
Organisations with conservation links have been collating resources on COVID-19 impacts, including Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS), Historic Environment Forum, The Heritage Alliance (THA), and Historic England, on cleaning surfaces.
Councils are reported to be considering taking up rarely-used executive powers to keep the planning and development system moving during the coronavirus pandemic.
Historic England's 'After a Flood' provides timely advice on how to dry walls properly and avoid further damage to the building fabric.
Context Issue 162 offers a peek into an archive of timber conservation history through the records of the practice of FWB and Mary Charles Chartered Architects.
To meet the government’s target of being carbon neutral by 2050, we must recycle, reuse and responsibly adapt our existing historic buildings, according to this year’s Heritage Counts report, so Historic England and partners are calling for a reduction in VAT rates to incentivise this more sustainable option.
Donald Insall Associates, with the help of Historic England, has completed restoration work of Moseley Road Baths, being converted for use as an arts and culture venue.
Celebrate your local ‘retired members’ and ‘successful learners’ with £500 cash prizes and 2020 Brighton School places!
The Conservation Hierarchy is a new framework developed by the University of Oxford to help construction projects achieve Biodiversity Net Gain.
Jacqueline Hughes, senior risk analyst at Equib, in pbctoday discusses how project managers for town centre developments can get their risk management strategies right.
A new paper from the Adam Smith Institute argues that the problem with the High Street has been totally misunderstood, saying that we need to reform restrictive planning rules and reject a policy of managed decline to reinvigorate our town centres.
The Whole Life Cost of Energy (WLCoE) calculator – issued by government in BETA form – is intended to help building owners and operators to understand the full financial cost of the energy their buildings use, and welcomes feedback.