Page D3.1 . 29 May 2002                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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The New City Home

by Leslie Plummer Clagett

From the Iron Age to the age of the Internet, the city has always both absorbed and promoted change. It thrives on reinvention. Today, the North American city is enjoying an upswing in popularity.

With crime rates plummeting and budget surpluses being poured into community assets, cities are again meccas for culture and business and residential use. No longer are downtowns deserted at the end of a workday or on weekends, partly because fewer people are commuting out to the suburbs.

Currently charting the highest chic quotient a critical factor in the status-conscious city are lofts. They're characterized by 15-foot- (5-meter-) plus ceilings, expansive open bays marked by grids of columns, and floor-to-ceiling windows.

Originally spaces scavenged out of warehouses and industrial buildings by artists in search of affordable living and working quarters, lofts have undergone a 180-degree turnaround. The raw quality that initially attracted the creative lot has been honed to a high polish, as a new, well-heeled class of inhabitants makes the loft a prominent stage for architectural experimentation.

Some people revel in the unbounded space that lofts offer; others find them a bit too empty for comfort and prefer to divide them into smaller-scale zones. Walls that slide on tracks, platform floors, and pivoting panels are some of the devices used to reapportion the space while maintaining its flexible nature.   >>>

This article is excerpted from The New City Home: Smart Design for Metro Living by Leslie Plummer Clagett, with permission of the publisher, The Taunton Press.



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The facade of a former parking garage in Baltimore, Maryland conceals a light-filled loft.

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Urban street life offers rewards unavailable in the suburbs.


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