PWA Moderne

PWA Moderne (or "P.W.A. Moderne", PWA/WPA Moderne,[1] Federal Moderne,[2] Depression Moderne,[1] Classical Moderne,[1] Stripped Classicism) is an architectural style of many buildings in the United States completed between 1933 and 1944,[2] during and shortly after the Great Depression as part of relief projects sponsored by the Public Works Administration (PWA) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

The style draws from traditional motifs such as Beaux-Arts classicism and Art Deco and is similar to Streamline Moderne,[2][3] often with zigzag ornamentation added. The structures reflect a greater use of conservative and classical elements and have a monumental feel. They include post offices, train stations, public schools, libraries, civic centers, courthouses,[2] museums, bridges, and dams across the country. Banks were also built in the style because such buildings radiated authority.[1]

Elements of the style

Typical elements of PWA Moderne buildings include:[1]

  • Classical balanced and symmetrical form
  • Windows arranged as vertical recessed panels
  • Surfaces sheathed in smooth, flat stone or stucco

Examples of PWA buildings

Examples of PWA buildings and structures include:




Greater Los Angeles

Elsewhere in California

District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.)




  • Mississippi: Amory National Guard Armory, 1937–38, Overstreet & Town







See also


  1. Fullerton Heritage site
  2. The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art, Volume 1, Joan M. Marter, ed., p. 147
  3. McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction
  4. "The New Deal in Arizona: Connections to Our Historic Landscape", University of Arizona, The New Deal in Arizona Chapter of the National New Deal Preservation Association.
  5. Photos of New Deal projects in Arizona
  6. "Did You Know: Arizona State Fairgrounds 110 Years Old", by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez, 21 August 2015; with images of the WPA Grandstand and Administration Building.
  7. Living New Deal Blog: Arizona State Fairgrounds Stadium and Art
  8. Phoenix New Times: "Demolition of WPA Civic Building at Arizona State Fairgrounds on Temporary Hold", 18 July 2014.
  9. "1938 WPA Administration Building in 1949 & 1969"
  10. " "$200,000 to go toward preserving State Fairgrounds WPA Administration Building"". Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  11. "PWA Moderne", Los Angeles Conservancy website
  12. An Arch Guidebook to Los Angeles, Robert Winter, p. 322
  13. "Fresno County, US Courthouses". Retrieved 11 Aug 2016.
  14. "Amador County, US Courthouses". Retrieved 11 Aug 2016.
  15. "Alameda County, US Courthouses". Retrieved 11 Aug 2016.
  16. "Monterey County, US Courthouses". Retrieved 11 Aug 2016.
  17. "San Diego County, US Courthouses". Retrieved 11 Aug 2016.
  18. "San Luis Obispo County, US Courthouses". Retrieved 11 Aug 2016.
  19. "Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium - Santa Cruz CA - Living New Deal". Retrieved 11 Aug 2016.
  20. "Tulare County, US Courthouses". Retrieved 11 Aug 2016.
  21. "Tulare County Department of Public Social Services - Visalia CA - Living New Deal". Retrieved 11 Aug 2016.
  23. "Gregg County Courthouse, Longview, Texas". Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  24. "William K. Nakamura Federal Courthouse - Seattle WA - Living New Deal". Retrieved 11 Aug 2016.

Further reading

  • Greif, Martin. Depression Modern: The Thirties Style in America. New York: Universe Books, 1975.
  • Prosser, Daniel. "The New Deal Builds: Government Architecture during the New Deal". Timeline vol. 9, no. 1 (1992): 40–54.
  • United States Public Works Administration. America Builds: The Record of PWA. Washington, D.C.: PWA, 1939.
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