This article was originally published on Common Edge.
Although it was originally published in 2019, this essay by Randy Nishimura, lightly updated, serves as a rebuttal of sorts to Duo Dickinson’s recent Common Edge piece, “The Architectural Pandemic of the ‘Stick Frame Over Podium’ Building.” Dickinson likens the building type to a plague; Nishimura offers a contrarian’s perspective.
A recent spate of articles bemoaning the proliferation of 5-over-1 apartment buildings caught my attention. Outlets such as Bloomberg, Common Edge, Crosscut, and Curbed have all commented on the building type, the common thread being a reproach for their ubiquity, sameness, and inexpensive construction. Some of the critiques rightfully point to the confluence of multiple factors—evolving building codes, a lack of developable land, rising construction costs, and an acute lack of affordable housing—that have given rise to countless examples of the type across the country. The same dynamics are in play here in my hometown of Eugene, Oregon, so we naturally have our share of 5-over-1 developments.