15 December 2017

Facadism explained

Facadism, façadism (or façadomy) refers to an architectural and construction practice where the facade of a building was designed or constructed separately from the rest of a building. More often it refers to the practice where only the facade of a building is preserved with new buildings erected behind or around it.

There are aesthetic and historical reasons for preserving building facades. Facadism can be the response to the interiors of a building becoming unusable, such as being damaged by fire. In developing areas, however, the practice is sometimes used by property developers seeking to redevelop a site as a compromise to preservationists who wish to preserve buildings of historical or aesthetic interest.
Photo via the Pics subreddit, where it is noted that the same procedure was undertaken with the White House in 1949-1952.

"In June 1948 a leg of Margaret Truman's piano crashed through the floor in her second floor sitting room and through the ceiling of the Family Dining Room below. Investigators found the floor boards to have rotted, the main floor beam was split completely through, and the ceiling below had dropped 18 inches. The investigators determined that the west end of the Second Floor was sinking...

In October the ceiling of the East Room began to collapse and required wood supports. The structure under the Main Stair was found to be crumbling. The president's bathtub had begun sinking into the floor. The investigators discovered that the foundations of the interior walls supporting the upper floors and roof were all but non-existent. As they sank into the ground, the interior walls and floors were pulling away from the exterior walls leaving large gaps. They determined that the interior of the house was sinking and in danger of collapsing inwards; the entire mansion was unsafe..."
No. 10 Downing Street also had to be extensively rebuilt.

White House image credit Abbie Rowe - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain


  1. i got a kick out of the facadism in washington d.c., like along 6th street NW, just north of the national mall.


  2. It often allows you to get around various zoning laws or construction requirements since it is not seen as new construction.

  3. We walked down a block in Baltimore a few years ago where this was happening -it was surreal!

  4. It looks like old growth trees INSIDE the buildings. I think this is just a movie set... Now what movie was it?

  5. Here's an extreme example in London: https://goo.gl/maps/Tk46nhsCnyt.

    Also, in NYC, St. Vincent's Hospital was torn down to be replaced by (insanely expensive) condos. All that remains is the facade. Here's a Google Street View image during construction: https://goo.gl/maps/ErohrRuyfTN2. St. Vincent's was where most of the shockingly low number of injured survivors of the 9/11 attacks were treated.


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