German Style Zix

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Mission Style Architecture in California

The architecture of the California missions is world-renowned, and the style is not simply relegated to California. Other states, including Missouri where P.T. Barnett built his Spanish Mission style Art Deco building, have adopted the style and expanded it into other areas.

Several factors influenced the Spanish mission style. Not only the Spanish architecture of the homeland, but the European Christian missions, California building materials, and native American/Mexican American influences. In California, there was a shortage of skilled labor, but the founding priests still desired to build missions reminiscent of their homeland. No two missions are identical in California, but they were all built on the same concept.

The Spanish mission style became de rigueur in the 1920%u2019s and 30%u2019s in California, and then spread to the rest of the world, utilizing some of the same materials and design elements to create homes, civic centers and office buildings. Los Angeles is a great example of this style as it was infused into utilitarian public architecture, but also across the nation. Some of the most beautiful homes and buildings in America show influence from this style.

The first missions in California were considered temporary buildings by the Spanish hierarchy, but the priests who contracted the building were in no way hoping to build temporary establishments. The padres%u201D hoped to build these missions with all the love and decoration that they deemed necessary for their Christian task.

In California today, school children are still assigned the task of building their own Spanish mission using sugar cubes, or the more modern method of buying a Spanish mission kit at the local craft store. Why do they do this? Because the Spanish mission style offers a great lesson in simple, historic design. The architectural style itself is a great fusion of Spanish, American, and Mexican history.

Missions were built on sites that had good natural water supply, good wood for fires, and plenty of land for the animals to graze. The site was blessed by Padres, and then the building began, and there was born an architectural style that continues to influence architects today. Construction began with the church, the most important building in the Spanish Mission complex. The sanctuaries took advantage of the east-west axis so that natural light infused the interior; a concept still utilized today in the Spanish mission style of architecture.

One of the trademarks of Spanish mission style is elaborate detail and intricate design patterns. Structures found in Arizona, Texas, and Mexico are still built in this fashionable style. But there are also Spanish missions that are a bit simpler in design.

This Spanish mission style expanded to influence the design of a number of buildings in California, as well as across the nation. I already mentioned the P.T. Barnett Mission-Style Art Deco building in St. Louis, and that provides a great example of many styles colliding and forming into one unique, gorgeous style of architecture that is all its own. That building was built in the 1920%u2019s, when architects began to take elements of the past and combine them with elements from their time that were all the rage.


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