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Timothy Pflueger Art Deco Movement

Minh Le DSGN 101 Mid-term Project

Art Deco movement started in early 1920 and ended in 1940s. It became popular in 1925 after the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels, held in Paris, and the name “Art Deco” derives from it. My group and I have chosen Art Deco movement because it happened and lasted in a quite interesting time in the history: between the two World Wars and during the Great Depression in the United States. Even during that miserable period of time, Art Deco was still born and growing. Besides that, its characteristics are also another reason we have chosen this movement. Art Deco is easily recognized by the geometry shapes, bright stand-out colors and the decorative look. It adapted the old traditional style of Art Nouveau, Cubism, etc. and developed its own to become a new, more modern style. Like Arie van de Lemme states in the book A Guide to Art Deco Style: “it represented the old but spiced it up with new ingredients,” Art Deco becomes one of the most important movements in the early 20th century Since being an international movement, Art Deco has become the inspiration for many artists and designers all around the world. Big names like Tamara de Lempicka, A.M Cassandre, Frank Lloyd Wright, etc. have contributed to the world their finest works full of Art Deco’s characteristics, and Timothy Pflueger is another name we can mention in Art Deco. I have picked Timothy Pflueger as my designer because he was one of the most important architects of the city of San Francisco. He started off as an office boy right after finishing high school, but later he still had a life full of success and achievements. Timothy Pflueger works cover Timothy L. Pflueger

many categories, such as: office buildings, movie theatres, schools, etc. His works can be seen almost everywhere in San Francisco.

Studying mostly about Beaux-Arts style at San Francisco Architectural Club, Timothy Pflueger designs were strongly influenced from its characteristics. In his works, Pflueger always used basic geometry shapes and tended to make them all symmetry. All the front entrance details, the windows and the sculptures are placed side by side. Arched window and door frames appear in some buildings, such as Castro theatre, Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Building entrance or

Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Front Entrance

110 McAllister side –windows. Sculptures, murals, mosaics are possible used to somehow identify the exterior and interior of the buildings; some examples are the mural Allegory of California at the Stock Exchange Luncheon Club, Stock Exchange Tower front entrance sculpture The Progress of Man or the eagle sculptures on the roof of the Telephone Building. The idea of flat roof in Beaux-Arts was also respectfully kept in sketches and designs of Pflueger. In brief, Beaux-Arts characteristics are one important part in Timothy Pflueger designs. Timothy Pflueger was also inspired by French Art Deco style which was blooming during the early 20th century. He adopted the beauty of decorative designs and put them onto the walls, the front entrances and the ceilings of his buildings; so they would stand out of the surroundings. The stunning interior of Paramount Theatre in Oakland is compare as “paradise.” Its red and gold colors of the walls and ceiling give the audiences the feeling of a noble place. This design gives the whole new

Paramount Theatre Interior

meaning for how people feel about movie theatre, and they actually somehow accept to call this kind of theatre a “movie palace.” This idea of design is also found in the interior and exterior of his many other buildings, such as Castro theatre interior, Telephone Building lobby or 110 McAllister exterior wall and front entrance. Besides these two main influences, Tim Pflueger designs were also influenced from other styles like Spanish Mission and Neoclassicism. Growing up in the Mission district, Spanish Colonial Revival style had a big impact on Pflueger residential designs. His first project, Our Lady of the Wayside Church, and more than twenty houses were inspired of Mission Dolores Church and the Spanish Mission style ideas. We can also find the Greek decorative ornaments from Neoclassicism in some Former San Francisco Stock Exchange

of his office design, such as the former San Francisco Stock Exchange or George Washington High School.

Adopting and putting the ideas of many architectural styles, Timothy Pflueger had designed some of the finest buildings in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Because of the Beaux-Arts background and the influence of French Art Deco, Timothy Pflueger works are the combination of symmetry-form buildings and decorative ornaments. He is probably best known with his many movie theatres like Castro, Paramount and Alhambra. Each theatre has its very own design, but they all have the symmetrical shape and the name neon-sign put vertically. The Castro has the Spanish Baroque façade. The Alhambra has the Islam look; and the Paramount has a more modern front entrance with two mosaics on the side of the neon-sign. However, their decoration all Paramount Theatre Exterior

respects the rule of Art Deco, which is the use of repeated simple

figure with bright attractive color. Office buildings and schools,








characteristic. Timothy Pflueger played with the basic shapes to create the forms of the buildings because he believed “form is as important as function” (quote from Art Deco San Francisco,






rectangular shape buildings with vertical brick walls and CCSF Science Hall

columns stand as the rocks on the ground, solid and

unmovable. The interior and exterior walls of these buildings are also added with decorative designs or murals to lighten up the details. The colors are also considered carefully. Timothy Pflueger wanted to make sure his buildings would stand out and can be seen from far away. Depend on the surrounding or the building purposes, the colors would be chosen, but the most used color was white. Creating his own characteristics based on the traditional style, Timothy Pflueger buildings can be expected to be seen as something different but at the same time as something familiar. While working with the new plans, one question which always came up to Tim Pflueger was that how his decoration would fit with the purpose of the buildings. He considered this very carefully before deciding to put which design in which buildings because he did not want to put

just anything but to make it have the meaning. The huge two mosaics next to the neon-sign of Paramount Theatre capture the image of movie characters: cowboys, horses, dancers, musicians, etc. Its interior is full of

images of goddess from

Egypt and Maya to represent the beautiful scene of paradise. The Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Building exterior is full of sculptures to symbolize Telephone Company, such as the bell and the eagles. The Telephone Building lobby ceiling is the set of birds, probably phoenix, and dragons. This is an Asian Design style. What does it have to do with an American Telephone Company? And yes, the design was

Telephone Building Lobby

appropriate for the growing of Chinese population at that time. And there are also many murals with the image about academy on the wall of school buildings, like City College of San Francisco Science Hall, Abraham Lincoln High School, George Washington High School or Roosevelt Middle School. Timothy Pflueger design works well together with the decorative ornaments and become one harmony unity. Timothy Pflueger passed away and left behind unfinished projects. His legacy passes on to his architecture firms. Many of his buildings now still stand tall, and some has become landmarks of the cities. The characteristics of his work have influenced the work of other Modern architects in California. According to Art Deco San Francisco, Architecture of Timothy Pflueger, his embrace of the Eliel Saarinen design for the tribune tower set the trend for San Francisco’s skyline in the 1920s. His “paradise” Paramount Theatre and other theatres of the 1930s had impacts on the Cascade Theatre in Redding, the Del Mar in Santa Cruz and the Metro in San Francisco. San Francisco Chronicle critic John King once in his article stated that Pflueger was “perhaps the finest architect San Francisco has ever produced.” Timothy L. Pflueger, a great icon of San Francisco architecture.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Poletti, Therese. Art Deco San Francisco, The Architecture of Timothy Pflueger. New York, New York 10003: Princeton Architectural Press, 2008 Timothy Pflueger Blog. WordPress. <> Lemme, Arie van de. Mike Darton (editor). A guide to Art Deco Style. North Dighton, MA 02764: JG Press, 1986 Duncan, Alastair (editor). Encyclopedia of Art Deco. New York, N.Y.10016: E.P. DUTTON, 1988 *Images are from Google Search and T.P Blog.

Timothy Pflueger - Art Deco Movement  

T. Pflueger

Timothy Pflueger - Art Deco Movement  

T. Pflueger