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 ?
I am sure that the numerous innovative terms Marcus coins in her book ("the apartment house plot," "discourse of urban observation," "discourse of domestic complaint," "interiorization") will become a staple of the discussion of urban culture and literature in the nineteenth century.
To add insult to injury, King then reapplied to the City Board of Control for permission to add an extra storey to his apartment house (Figure 2).
* Barry Swartz negotiated $8,000,000 in permanent financing for a six-story elevator apartment house on West 12th Street in NYC.
* A permanent mortgage in the amount of $3,000,000 was arranged by Barry Swartz for a six story walk up apartment house on East 28th Street, New York.
* A "B" loan in the amount of $2 million was negotiated by Richard Pergolis for a seven-story elevator apartment house on Broadway and 151st St.
* A "B" loan in the amount of $2,000,000 was negotiated by Richard Pergolis for a seven story elevator apartment house on Broadway and 151st St, NYC.
* Richard Pergolis obtained a permanent mortgage in the amount of $2.7 million for a five-story, walk-up apartment house on 116th St.
Construction is set to begin this month on the Kratchman-designed "totally family friendly" six story, seven-unit condominium apartment house in Brooklyn at the corner of Ocean Parkway and Avenue M, across the street from Agudath Israel of Flatbush Synagogue, in a traditionally family-oriented neighborhood of mostly post-war 1940s and 1950s two-storey homes.
Construction is set to begin in June, 2005, on the Kratchman-designed "totally family friendly" six storey, seven-unit condominium apartment house in Brooklyn at the corner of Ocean Parkway and Avenue M.