Launch Slideshow

Design Details: Colorful Façade

Design Details: Colorful Façade

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    Francis Zera

    Seattle’s lively Pine/Pike corridor used to be known as that town’s “Auto Row,” so for a condo project located there, the architects took color cues from classic cars of the 1950s. Project: 1111 East Pike, Seattle; Architect: Olson Kundig Architects, Seattle; Builder: Charter Construction, Seattle

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    Faryha Majumder

    Located in a recovering blight zone in Los Angeles, this family housing project gives its residents an affordable place to live with safe community space. Project: Seasons at Compton, Compton, Calif.; Architect: Nardi Associates, Monrovia, Calif.; Builder: Advent Companies, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

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    Brian Rose

    The project’s bright colors, inspired by African batik fabrics, make the building’s façade quilt-like and the public spaces cheerful. Project: Armstrong Place, San Francisco; Architect: David Baker + Partners, San Francisco; Builders: Nibbi Brothers General Contractors, San Francisco; Roberts Obayashi Corporation, Danville, Calif.

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    Brian Rose

    Armstrong Place includes family and senior housing with access to transit, open green spaces, and a car-share pool. Project: Armstrong Place, San Francisco; Architect: David Baker + Partners, San Francisco; Builders: Nibbi Brothers General Contractors, San Francisco; Roberts Obayashi Corporation, Danville, Calif.

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    Ana Maria Cárdenas

    This site used to contain an abandoned; dilapidated housing project; but a new street grid was created to reconnect the project with the rest of the city; complete with inviting community space. Project: Franklin Hill; Dorchester; Mass.; Architect: DHK Architects; Boston; Builder: CWC Builders; Newton; Mass.

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    Ana Maria Cárdenas

    A multicolored palate helps this mix of buildings stay coherent.; The homes meld with each other; as well as with the weave of the city.; Project: Franklin Hill; Dorchester; Mass.; Architect: DHK Architects; Boston; Builder: CWC Builders; Newton; Mass.

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    Charles Davis Smith

    In a northern Dallas suburb, a bright red column anchors this mid-rise. The project is mixed-use, with lofts, apartments, townhomes, and retail. Project: Austin Ranch, The Colony, Dallas; Architect: JHP Architecture/Urban Design, Dallas; Builder: Westwood Residential, Plano, Texas

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    Jim Doyle

    Before this colorful project became affordable housing, it was an ugly storage dump for neighborhood runoff. Home to seniors 60 and older, the project is LEED Platinum certified, with grocery shopping, a park, a hospital, and the post office within half a mile. Project: Magnolia Court, Manteca, Calif.; Architect: Studio E Architects, San Diego; Developer: Affirmed Housing Group, San Diego; Builder: BOGC Inc., Scotts Valley, Calif.

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    Courtesy Residential Seattle

    Originally developed by artists, the project’s color-blocked metal siding lets you know that these are no ordinary townhomes. Project: Magnolia Lofts, Seattle, Wa.; Architect: Matthew Stannard, Seattle, Wa.; Developer: Residential Seattle, Seattle, Wa.; Builder: Mark Horiuchi, Seattle, Wa.,

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    Bruce Glass

    The stenciled-metal wall is meant to buffer freeway noise, but it also adds texture and vibrant color to this housing project, which helps individuals transition out of homelessness. Project: New Hope at Brays Crossing, Houston; Architect: Glassman Shoemake Maldonado Architects, Houston; Builder: Camden Builders, Inc., Houston

Conventional wisdom says that in a downturn, neutrals (calming) are more popular than bright colors (stimulating). This may be well and good for wall colors, cabinets, and flooring. But that idea gets turned on its ear when it comes to the outside of a building, especially low- or mid-rises in urban areas. Whether it’s luxury or affordable housing, bright color on the exterior can help a structure stand out and be a bright spot on the landscape. Used thoughtfully, with a keen eye to the environs, color doesn’t have to look trendy and can send a message of optimism, innovation, and invitation.  For some inspired uses of color, check out these vibrant exteriors.