On the disappearing top floor

01/10/2017 8:02 AM by

Don O’Keefe at Architecture Richmond takes on a particular urban architectural feature of our era:

In recent developments around town, a new design trend has emerged. Architects of residential buildings of modest heights, as little as three or four stories, are opting to change the facade material of the uppermost floor, and sometimes create a slight setback. The effect is often to cheapen the structure, exposing the main facade for what it so often is: a veneer.


… we are curiously uninterested in progress in the urban realm. New buildings must conform to the image of past, an image we all admit was created by a deeply flawed society. Today, a developer trying to build a four story structure in an ordinary townhouse neighborhood is flattened into a caricature of capitalist greed. But would anyone hate a four story building from 1910 simply because of its height? Of course not. It would be celebrated as the landmark of the neighborhood.




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