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Top 8 Famous Beaux-Arts Buildings

The architectural style taught at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris was named after this prestigious art school in France’s capital.

The style was mostly inspired by the Style Louis XIV and Neoclassical architecture which emerged in France during the 1760s. It also incorporated elements of Baroque architecture and even Renaissance architecture.

The Beaux-Arts style was one of the dominant styles in France between the 1830s and the late 20th century and spread to cities all across the world.

The main characteristics of the style are sculptural decorations, flat roofs, arched windows, a focus on symmetry, and the inclusion of various elements derived from Classical architecture.

In this article, you’ll discover some of the most famous Beaux-Arts buildings, a fascinating worldwide architectural style.

1. Grand Palais – Paris, France

The Grand Palais or “Big Palace” is an immense exhibition hall located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. It borders the Champs Élysées and was constructed as one of the main buildings in Paris for the Universal Exposition of 1900.

The heavily ornamented façade features large rows of columns. The innovative materials that were used to build the structure such as iron, light steel framing, and reinforced concrete are typical elements of Beaux-Arts architecture.

Famous Beaux-Arts buildings Grand Palais
The Grand Palais / Gordon Gartrell / Wiki Commons

2. Grand Central Terminal – New York City, United States

Grand Central Terminal is one of the most iconic buildings in New York City. It’s located in Midtown Manhattan in the heart of the city at located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue. This makes it no surprise that it’s the second-busiest train station in North America.

The building features a distinctive Beaux-Arts design and is decorated with various sculptural groups. This not only makes it a beautiful building in a city full of amazing skyscrapers but also one of the best-recognized landmarks in the United States.

Grand Central Terminal in New York City / Wiki Commons

3. Palais Garnier – Paris, France

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The Palais Garnier is one of the most stunning opera houses in the world. It was named after its architect, Charles Garnier (1825-1898), and was constructed for the Paris Opera between 1861 and 1875 in a style referred to by the architect as the “Napoleon III style.”

The extremely eclectic architecture of the building was constructed with the beaux-arts design methods that Garnier learned at the École royale des Beaux-Arts de Paris. He was one of the most renowned architects of his time, a notion emphasized by the fact that he won the Grand Prix de Rome, a prestigious scholarship, at the age of 23.

Palais Garnier facts
The Palais Garnier / Peter Rivera / Wiki Commons

4. Teatro Colón – Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Teatro Colón is the main opera house in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, and one of the finest examples of Beaux-Arts architecture in South America. It was completed between 1888 and 1908 and replaced an older theater on this location that dated back to 1858.

The original architect of the building was an Italian but after he passed away he was replaced by a Belgian architect named Julio Dormal (1846-1924). He learned his trade in Paris and moved to Argentina in 1868 where he introduced the Beaux-Arts architectural style.

Buenos Aires Teatro Colon
The Teatro Colón in Buneos Aires / Andrzej Otrębski / Wiki Commons

5. Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York City, United States

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is often referred to as “The MET” and is the most popular museum in New York City. Its the largest art museum in the Western Hemisphere and has a collection size of over 2 million items, including a stunning collection of paintings.

The museum is housed in a magnificent Beaux-Arts building is located within Central Park on its eastern edge. The main façade of the structure borders Fifth Avenue and features several sculptural groups, distinctive elements of Beaux-Arts architecture.

Met Museum New York City
The façade of the MET Museum in New York City / Wiki Commons

6. San Francisco City Hall – San Francisco, United States

San Francisco City Hall is the second version of the city’s city hall on this location. Thus amazing building in SF was constructed between 1913 and 1916 and replaced the original building that was destroyed by the 1906 Earthquake that flattened large parts of the city.

It’s one of the most remarkable exponents of the so-called “City Beautiful Movement,” a period around the turn of the century in which monumental structures were built all across North America. SF City Hall is considered to be the ultimate Beaux-Arts monument of this movement.

San Francisco City Hall / Wiki Commons

7. Petit Palais – Paris, France

The Petit Palais or “Small Palace” is located right across the Grand Palais in the 8th arrondissement of Paris and was constructed for the same reason as its bigger brother. It was one of the most popular structures of the 1900 Paris Exposition in terms of architectural design.

The building was designed by renowned Beaux-Arts architect Charles Girault (1851-1932), another former student of the Beaux-Arts Academy who had won the Grand Prix de Rome. The design of the building is dominated by along row of Ionic columns and a remarkable entrance in the center.

Petit Palais facts
The Petit Palais in Paris / Ana Paula Hirama / Wiki Commons

8. Arcade du Cinquantenaire – Brussels, Belgium

The Arcade du Cinquantenaire is a fascinating complex of buildings located in the “Parc du Cinquantenaire” or the “Jubelpark” just east of the city center of Brussels. It was commissioned by King Leopold II and was one of the ultimate masterpieces of Charles Girault, the French architect who designed the Petit Palais.

The centerpiece of the U-shaped complex is the Cinquantenaire Arch, a monumental arch that was completed in 1905. The Beaux-Arts buildings that adjoin the arch on both sides are used as the Military Museum of Belgium, Autoworld, and the Art & History Museum. This amazing complex of buildings is the most prominent example of Beaux-Arts architecture in Belgium.

Cinquantenaire park Beaux Arts architecture
Part of the Arcade du Conquantenaire in Brussels / Ben2 / Wiki Commons