Industrial-style lofts are a great new building type, and can be used anywhere in a neighborhood.

Element: Building

Issue: Wayfinding

The first lofts were industrial buildings that were converted to residential units. They are light, airy, and open. They have become one of the hottest unit types in America. Designers are tempted to use them everywhere. But if you’re going to tell the story of a town, it needs to be a believable story. American towns typically reserved the town square for more noble functions. Mills and factories were built down by the river or in other, less refined, parts of town. They never would have been built next door to the town hall, or on the town square. Putting an industrial-style loft building next door to the town hall in a new development clues visitors in immediately to the fact that this is a new development trying to mimic some elements of a real town. But the parallel conclusion is that it isn’t a real town itself. Visitors will read the town based on their past experience, whether the designer recognizes this fact or not. So loft buildings may be built near the square, but not on the square.

© The Guild Foundation 2018