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Stylistic Trends in Multifamily Housing

Working paper #651
Michael Ytterberg

Traditional as well as Modernist designs remain a viable option for the developers of multifamily high rise buildings for the simple reason that consumers demand them. This paper discusses two current stylistic trends in the design of urban apartment buildings: a traditional model based on the successful prewar apartment building built in New York in the 1920s, and the Modernist, all-glass tower. Empty nesters returning to the city are looking for buildings that reassure by invoking continuity with tradition. People newly single or seeking a second home in the city are attracted to contemporary designs that, however, are not excessively aggressive and blend with their surroundings. Young professionals who don’t want to live in the suburbs seek an environment on the cutting edge, emphasizing the excitement the city has to offer. The author describes six downtown apartment buildings currently designed for Philadelphia that exhibit all these tendencies.

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