MetroABQ Blog

MetroABQ Art Deco

The ABQ Indian Public Health Service Hospital is an excellent example of an Art Deco building, hidden in plain sight along Lomas Blvd, east of UNM Hospital. This view is from across Johnson Field on the UNM Campus.


Art Deco is an eclectic, often colorful design style begun in Paris in the 1920s, which quickly spread across the world and flourished until the WWII era. The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and jewelry, as well as the visual arts such as painting, graphic arts and film. 

Art Deco is an ornamental, lavish style which was influenced by Cubism. It utilized new materials like stainless steel, ebony, aluminum, plastics and wood inlays, and was patterned after trapezoidal, zigzagged, geometric, and jumbled shapes. This highly stylized creative form was a reaction to the austerity imposed on the world by WWI. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, it was developed by all the nervous energy stored up and expended in the War. The Empire State Building, above, is perhaps the most iconic example of American Art Deco, built from 1928-30.


In the MetroABQ area, we are lucky to enjoy a bunch of Art Deco building designs. The ABQ Federal Building, Maisels Trading Post, Wrights Trading Post, the Kimo Theatre, the El Rey Theatre, and the Indian Public Health Services building are good examples.

Above, we see the ornate furnace stack protruding close to 50 feet above the building. Notice the arrow motif that runs up the stack, culminating with an inlay arrowhead. Below is a detailed terra cotta ornament rising up from the window, joining the textured roofline. 

The Indian Public Health Service building, originally built in 1934 as a tuberculosis sanatorium, was designed by Hans Stamm, to consider the Southwests unique heritage and environment in the design of the building. According to the Art Deco Society of New Mexico, the lobby of the building has stenciled motifs on the ceiling, a cornice frieze, and floor designs. In Plain Sight. I have passed by the ABQ Indian Public Health Building just east of UNM Hospital for two decades, and only recently noticed it. It sits discreetly back from Lomas Blvd, and a parking structure was unfortunately added to the front of the building in the 1980s, obscuring the original entrance. The Art Deco Society of New Mexico put together an Albuquerque Tricentennial Pueblo Deco Tour in 2005. It begins in the Central Business District downtown, and proceeds east all the way to the Indian Public Health Service building. For the self-guided walking/bicycling tour brochure, click on this link: Art Deco Society of New Mexico Pueblo Deco Tour

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