The Modern History of Multifamily Architecture

 In Industry Insights and Trends

The concept of multifamily architecture has been around for centuries, but the way of building and designing those buildings has changed dramatically. Modern multifamily buildings are more efficient than ever and have become better for tenants. The modern history of multifamily architecture clues us on what the future holds for this type of construction. Let’s dive into its history. 

The Penthouse

The penthouse originated as a term in the construction industry, not as a luxury apartment. It was originally used to describe an attic space located on top of other spaces in a building. This space would be used for storage or extra living space if there was no room below it.

The concept of the penthouse took off once developers realized they could use these attics as more than just storage spaces. They could create them into luxurious apartments where only the wealthiest tenants could afford to live.

Arches, Columns, and Greenery

Early twentieth century was a time for structural innovation. The industrial revolution allowed architects to experiment with new materials and construction techniques, leading to a higher level of experimentation in designing multifamily housing.

One of the notable trends was the use of arches and columns in multifamily buildings, often made from concrete or stone. Arches were used to make rooms appear larger than they were, while columns provided visual interest without being overly decorative.

Another popular trend was incorporating greenery into buildings to soften their appearance, like the modern rooftop gardens. This trend can still be seen today in many apartment complexes near parks or other green spaces that provide residents with access to nature without leaving home.

Steel Frame Construction

Steel frame construction is a modern building technique that has recently gained popularity. Steel frames are constructed using steel bracing, beams, columns, and other rigid materials to form a building structure. This type of construction is used in many modern buildings because it’s an excellent material for supporting load-bearing walls and floors and providing structural stability.

Modern Modular Housing

As you may have noticed, modular housing is a prefabricated home that can be manufactured in a controlled environment and then transported to its final destination. It’s often used as emergency or affordable housing, but it’s also an appealing option for developers and builders because it’s cost-effective. The average cost of constructing modular homes is about 15% lower than traditional building methods. That means less time spent on construction and more profit.

The High-Rise

In the early 20th century, as the country’s urban population grew and more people moved into cities, developers and architects began looking at ways to increase the amount of housing available in urban areas. 

Architect William LeBaron Jenney built the first high-rise apartment building in 1885 in Chicago. In response to this need for more housing, other architects like Louis Sullivan designed buildings with many stories, the tallest being ten floors, and made them taller than any buildings previously constructed.

Art Deco

Art Deco was a popular style of art and architecture between the 1920s and 1930s. It was inspired by modernism and the machine age, featuring sleek lines and geometric shapes. The style strongly influenced architecture in the United States, Australia, and Europe during this period.

Brutalism and Metabolism

In the early 1900s, modernism began to emerge as a reaction to the austerity of traditional architecture. Rather than focusing on simplicity and function, the new style emphasized personal expression and creativity in design. This new approach utilized refined building materials like glass, stone, concrete, plastic, and steel.

Brutalism was another term coined by Reyner Banham, a British architectural critic, for “form follows function.” This type of architecture is characterized by its raw appearance; they tend to be boxy with simple lines. They’re often associated with large public institutions built from the 1960s through the 1980s, like university campuses or government buildings.

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Southeast Venture is a multifaceted property management company equipped to handle the needs of any property owner, investor, or developer. Southeast Venture strives to provide clients with the utmost quality service, from residential and commercial real estate management to development. 

If you own a multifamily property, contact us today to learn how to execute projects successfully.