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Streamlining Science

NRC Montreal Road Campus

Julien Lacroix, Author

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Applying Streamlining to Architecture

Architecture also adopted the streamlined aesthetic, formally called the Streamline Moderne style. This style often falls under the wing of a larger Art Deco title, but is in fact quite different. Art Deco was the popular modern style of the 1920s and 1930s. It captured the essence of the roaring 20s lifestyle, fusing elegance, excess and exoticism. In this sense, Art Deco captured the spirit of the moment, whereas Streamline Modern would take modernity to the next level: the future.[1]

 In architecture, streamlining often took inspiration from the modern means of transportation whose vehicles were also being streamlined. An example of this is the Oak Lane Diner in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This diner is almost identical to the streamlined chrome-bodied subway cars of the time. A more famous example of streamlined architecture is the nautically-inspired Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in Los Angeles, California built in 1936-37.[2] The architect, Robert V. Derrah, quite deliberately modeled this building to imitate modern ships of the day. Ship elements include round windows, evocations of a superstructure and funnel at the center, the general curvaceous aesthetic of ships and a color scheme reflecting the elevation of ships. 

These examples of buildings show the fascination some architects had with the development of science aerodynamic research, applying this aesthetic to no functional end in their designs. But did streamlining ever truly represent the function of a building?
[1] David Gebhard, The National Trust Guide to Art Deco in America, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), 9.
[2] Patricia Bayer, Art Deco Architecture, (London: Thames & Hudson, 1992), 127.
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