arcaded block commercial building

Isaac Kremer/ September 9, 2018/ / 0 comments

Arcaded commercial block, Newport, Rhode Island, 2021.

From the last quarter of the 19th century right down to the present, much attention has been paid to the corner commercial building, particularly one marking the edge or the heart of a business district. The arcaded block was just such a building. It was intended to be an imposing building with a strong overall shape, solid massing, and firm lines on both its elevations. It was rarely uniform in size, for one elevation was often larger than the other, and one might have been designed somewhat differently from the other. As a corner property, the arcaded business block had a rich design vocabulary stemming from the history of business-block development after the Civil War and the introduction of a new sensibility. High-style architects such as H.H. Richardson and Louis Sullivan had demonstrated how an elevation could be integrated through the use of arches, round-headed elements, or arcades. The curvilinear elements were usually linked, which helped to break the wall away from domination by vertical bays. The new look presented windows in bands or clusters of light. This kind of design often gave a lighter feeling to portions of the wall and at the same time focused the design on the intersection of the walls. That corner often culminated in a tower that rose from a recessed or canted ground-level entrance.

Characterized by a series of tall, evenly spaced, round-arched openings extending across a wide facade with no separate bracketing elements at the ends, the arcaded block is generally two or three stories high. The type is ultimately derived from loggias — great arcaded porches — built in Italian cities during the Renaissance.

As with several of the preceding types, most arcaded blocks date from the first three decades of the 20th century. They were designed primarily for banks and large retail stores. Historical references are often to Italian, French or English classical buildings ( 197-99) ; however, examples with Romanesque or Gothic details also can be found (200).

Arcaded block, Manhattan, New York, 2019.

See all Architecture / Type / Commerce.

Arcaded block building, Baltimore, Maryland, 2018.
Newberry, North Carolina, 2014.
Diagram of an arcaded block commercial building.
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About Isaac Kremer

Isaac Kremer is a transformational leader with a track record of success revitalizing downtowns in the United States. He has written and spoken extensively. He's always on the lookout for new and innovative ideas to unlock the potential of downtown areas.

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