In another life, I was most definitely an architect. I love analyzing, gawking at, and dreaming of different architectural styles. Recently, I’ve noticed a trend in commercial properties, whether it be a retail location or multi-unit apartment complex; an urban industrial look and feel to the facade. Brick accents, metal-like paneling, and bold, dark contrasting colors seem to be a running theme in new and redesigned units.
I personally like the look of the current color schemes and “urban” utilitarian fashion, but it makes me think that the color, texture choices, and block-like structures reflect our current economy and mood. It makes sense from a psychological stand point: a recession brings about the feeling and actions of “getting back to basics” and being more frugal. The current style in commercial properties mirrors this outlook. Less money = Less decorative details.
Looking back at past decades, the 80′s commercial architecture reflects big money; lots of reflective windows, more details, wrought iron designs that lasted through the ’90′s. The 60′s were a time of expansion and Frank Lloyd Wright comes to mind; ranch-style homes reflected a move to the suburbs and many commercial buildings have similarities to that architectural style.
Drawing an analogy to this decade, the 1930′s were most similar in architecture. Smaller bungalows with simple shapes and lines dominated the residential homes, stark brick structures and box-like buildings took shape on most main streets.
Parallels can be made to other decades as well; the Victorian era, the Industrial era, and the Art-Deco era – very defined styles that lasted a couple of decades. All, I’m sure, reflecting the economy and mood of the country. From good times to bad, expansion to contraction, stories can be told from the materials used to the style and shape of the buildings.
What does your community architecture tell you?