Friday, December 1, 2017

6151-6159 N. Fairfield, 1957

This building contains five units with separate entrances, private backyards, full basements and alley access.  It provides many of the amenities of a detached single family home but at a lower cost. Now these are condos, but many of these mid-sized buildings were originally constructed as co-ops.  At around 1,300 square feet these rival the size of the ranch homes built around the time time further to the west.

Construction is concrete block with a face brick veneer  Which really isn't that different from modern masonry construction.  Because the structural needs are provided by concrete block the exterior could be clad in a variety of ways.  Brick was the most traditional, but why not mix it up with wood, glass and stone?  Because these were speculative construction they tended towards a more traditional design, which was seen as desirable to more potential buyers.  And that's really what you see here, with a couple of interesting design exceptions.

6151-6159 N. Fairfield, 1957

The large glass blocks on the second floor likely provide light to the stairwells and give a slightly space-age look to the facade.  Glass block, which is load-bearing, was an inexpensive way to add light to a building without the expense of a window.  But because they provided light without a view they were more suited to secondary spaces, or areas where a view wouldn't have been possible or desirable.

Maybe the most ornamental treatment are the two entrance canopies supported by flaring central walls of random coursed limestone.  These cover two entrances each, and suggest outstretched wings.  Because there's an odd number of units the last one has a sad-looking half-canopy that makes you feel like the designer grumbled "good enough" and went on to the next project.  To be fair, maybe it's been altered from the original design...

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