The Loft: Coming of Age

by : Andy Asbury

Once the mainstay of the arts communities, lofts have come of age and are now one of the most popular home types anywhere. The term "loft" in general refers to an area that is usually a large open space that is adaptable for many different uses. Artists used them as live/work spaces for many years and they gained particular notoriety for this in the 1960's. Then, for a number of years lofts disappeared from the public eye only to resurface with a vengeance in the latter 1990's. The exact reason for this popularity is unknown but lofts are back for good and buyers and developers alike are getting a piece of the action.

One of the big factors in the resurgence of lofts would have to be the availability of old abandoned warehouse space in many American cities. True lofts are always converted from this kind of building. There are new loft projects that expertly mimic the grandiose style of turn of the century buildings but the same effect is hard to achieve. Lofts generally have a few things in common; concrete or brick construction is prominently featured along with exposed ductwork and plumbing. Concrete floors and ceilings also figure largely into the ambiance of lofts along with other industrial features.

The popularity of lofts has lead to the loft condo construction boom that has been evident around the country. In fact, lofts have become so sought-after that there are simply not enough old industrial sites available to cope with the demand and so new loft buildings are being built using the same design principles as the older buildings. Many have said that these "new lofts" do not have the same feeling and atmosphere of the old buildings, but that is very much a decision that is personal.

The simple truth is that lofts are here to stay. With cities growing both upward and outwards the need for apartment-style housing is on the rise and lofts are a great way to enjoy an open floor plan home that does not feel crowded while remaining within the city core.