apartment house

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apartment house,

building having three or more dwelling units. Numerous early examples of this form of dwelling have been found in remains of Roman and medieval cities and in the 17th-cent. Pueblo villages of North America. Its most important development came with the Industrial Revolution. After 1850 crowded slums began to develop in the cities of Europe and the United States. Few good, low-cost multiple dwellings were built before World War I, but great progress was made in the development of more luxurious apartment buildings, particularly in Paris and Vienna. In the 1880s fireproof steel-frame construction, the improvement of the elevator, and the introduction of electric lighting made possible the rapid evolution of the apartment building. In 1901 New York City put into effect a tenement-house law; its purpose was to protect occupants against fire hazards and unsanitary and unsafe conditions.

Between 1919 and 1934 there appeared in Europe many commendable low-cost housing developments. Important examples are projects by GropiusGropius, Walter
, 1883–1969, German-American architect, one of the leaders of modern functional architecture. In Germany his Fagus factory buildings (1910–11) at Alfeld, with their glass curtain walls, metal spandrels, and discerning use of purely industrial
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 at the Siemensstadt in Berlin, J. J. P. OudOud, Jacobus Johannes Pieter
, 1890–1963, Dutch architect. Oud's interest in abstract painting led him to conceive of buildings composed in terms of pure planes. With several painters, including Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg, he became associated with the influential
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's group at Hoek van Holland, and H. P. BerlageBerlage, Hendrik Petrus
, 1856–1934, Dutch architect. In both his writings and architectural practice, Berlage advocated a return to simplicity of form and clarity of structure. In his Amsterdam Stock Exchange (1898–1903) and the Diamond Workers' Union Bldg.
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's apartments in Amsterdam. There has been government-subsidized public housing in the United States since 1937. A phenomenal increase in the building of apartments has taken place since 1921 in all the larger cities, reaching a peak in New York City, where apartments largely replaced private houses. In the mid-20th cent. a radical experiment in multiple dwellings called Habitat was designed for the Montreal Expo 67 by Moshe SafdieSafdie, Moshe
, 1938–, Israeli-Canadian architect, b. Haifa. He grew up in Israel, moved to Canada with his family at 15, studied architecture at McGill Univ. and with Louis Kahn, and later opened an office in Montreal.
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In addition to the traditional rental unit, contemporary apartments are available in a number of permutations. With cooperative apartments the tenants belong to a corporation that owns the building. In the condominium each apartment unit is owned separately and owner-tenants generally form an association to provide for apartment maintenance. The apartment hotel combines the accommodations of an apartment, including cooking space, with the services characteristic of a hotel. A greater sense of community is fostered in co-housing, where residents plan, develop, and manage a community, often comprised of apartments and town houses, that combines private quarters with common spaces. Apartment houses have spread to the suburbs of the larger cities, where they frequently include gardens, tennis courts, and children's playgrounds. Numerous apartment houses are constructed as living complexes for retired persons.


See S. Paul, Apartments: Their Design and Development (1967); E. Thompson, Apartments, Townhouses, and Condominiums (1975); D. Mackay, Multiple Family Housing (1977); and E. Cromley Alone Together: A History of New York's Early Apartments (1990).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

Apartment house

A building containing a number of individual residential dwelling units.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Apartment House


a type of architectural structure; a multiple-unit building in which apartments are rented.

The apartment house originated in Europe in the 1830’s and 1840’s. At the turn of the 20th century the apartment house usually occupied the perimeter of the landlord’s lot; only a small inner court remained open. The main characteristic of the building is its honeycomb-like spatial structure; apartments of uniform layout are grouped around the stairwells or corridors and, in gallery houses, along galleries. In the 19th and early 20th century only the street side of the apartment house had an architectural facade, which usually had a decorative character and had no architectural connection to the structure of the building itself. In the 20th century the apartment house became one of the main types of housing for city dwellers in many of the developed capitalist countries.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. A room or suite of rooms designed to be lived in, containing at least one bathroom; is separated from, and is usually one of, many similar units within a multiple dwelling.
2. A building containing at least three such dwelling units; an apartment house. Also see efficiency apartment, garden apartment, apartment hotel.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
* Barry Swartz arranged for permanent financing in the amount of $3,950,000 for a 3 story and a 4 story apartment building containing a total of 11 units located on East 29th Street in Manhattan.
* $5,050,000 for five apartment buildings containing a total of 104 units located in Jersey City, New Jersey.
* $2,300,000 for a five-story elevator apartment building containing 21 units and 2 offices, located on East 81st Street in Manhattan, New York.
* $5,550,000 for three five-story elevator apartment buildings containing 81 units, located on Beck Street in the Bronx, New York.
* $7,425,000 for 2 five-story apartment buildings containing 90 units, located on Davidson Avenue in The Bronx, New York.
* A $4,850,000 permanent mortgage was closed by Barry Swartz for two 5-story walk up apartment buildings on West 131st Street in New York City.
* A new mortgage for $3,100,000 on a 48-unit 6-story elevator apartment building on Quentin Road in Brooklyn, NY.
* $7,500,000 for two 2-story apartment buildings containing a total of 140 apartments, located in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
* A new mortgage of $736,000 on a four story gut rehab brick apartment building with 16 units on South Leonard Street in Waterbury, CT.
* A new mortgage for $1,300,000 on a 16-unit, 4-story walk-up apartment building on Webster Avenue in the Bronx.
* Barry Swartz negotiated $2,450,000 in permanent money for a six story elevator apartment building on Sheridan Avenue in The Bronx.
* A new mortgage for $11,500,000 on a 364-unit, 6-story elevator apartment building on Park Hill Avenue in Staten Island, NY.

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