NEB&W Guide to Tall Buildings - Prototype Examples

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Norman refers to the c. Civil War era brick buildings, with lots of semi-circular arches and arches on arches, with all trim executed in brick.

  • The American Grocery Co. on River Street in Troy was part of a whole row of similar structures.
Although only four stories, the top floor windows are treated differently than the second and third story ones. (Note the Machicolations along the top. And all the buildings on the west side of River Street have doors on all the floors, for hoisting up goods.)

  • On River Street in north Troy is a four- and five-story brick factory. The first floor is separated off, and the top windows don't have the transom that the windows on the other floors do. Like the DPM modular walls, this has two windows per panel, but unlike the DPM ones, they are double windows, and originally two-over-two pane patterns.
According to Jack & Diana Waite (Industrial Archeology), this building was built by the International Shirt & Collar Co. in 1893. However, part of the north section (left-hand side of the photo) incorporated part of a former malt house. (Eighteen-ninety-three is too old for Norman, it should be Romanesque by that time, but apparently the newer section copied the architecture of the older malt house.)
International went out of business in 1906, but then was occupied by Troy Underwear Co and later the home of Tiny Town Togs (children's clothing.) Note the tower. A tower is an extremely common feature of steam-era factories. I think its main function was to house the staircase.

  • Emigh & Straub was a four-story collar factory located right alongside the tracks in Troy. The top floor was set off from the bottom by having more numerous but smaller windows. (On the second and third floor, note the hallmark Troy "double arches", with each set comprised of a double-thick wall.)

  • This factory in north Troy on River Street has the top floor separated out just by a horizontal stringer, as well as the narrow round-top windows up there on the ends. (You might notice by the URL of the photo that I had labeled this "Romanesque", but in reconsideration, I changed my mind. Both Norman and Romanesque take from about 900-1000 AD, but the 1860's revival (Norman) sticks with all brick. The later 1880's revival (Romanesque), has more prominent arches AND the use of stone mixed with the brick for ornamentation.)


Mansard refers to the distinctive roof of this style. It was in vogue right around the time of the Civil War.

  • The fabulous High Victorian Gothic Rice Building groups the second and third floor, separates out the fourth floor, and then uses a mansard roof and dormers to add a fifth floor. See this section for more info.

  • The Cannon building on Monument Square (River, Second, and Broadway) in Troy had a mansard roof added several years after the building was constructed. Note all the dormers - modern imagineered structures often neglect these. See this section for more info.

  • RPI's infamous West Hall (most students despise it) was originally a hospital during the Civil Wall and a Catholic school. Note the recessed windows, the so-called "double-arch" peculiarity of Troy. (Sorry for the poor quality of this and several other images on this page.)

Beaux Arts

This is an overblown type of Colonial Revival, mostly done in white stone. It was a style really suited to horizontal-type structures, like train stations, libraries, and banks.

  • This Beaux Arts bank in Troy is also only four stories, but the trim sets it into a 1/2/1 pattern.

  • Stanley's Department Store on Third and State in Troy was a Beaux Arts structure. Notice how the top floor is set off by all the white trim.
But the back is not so separated, it is plain all the way up.

  • The McCarthy Building on River Street opposite Monument Square is a stunning example of Beaux Arts. It is separated into a 1/2/2 pattern.

Concrete Beam & Brick Curtain Wall

This isn't really a style but a type of building construction used on industrial-type buildings.

  • See the prototype photos under the description of the City Classics kit. (Not all the prototype structures had a distinctive treatment to the top floor or floors but also some were only three or four stories tall.)

  • The Hedley Building on River south of Hoosic in Troy is the former Cluett, Peabody & Co. Arrow Collar/Shirt Factory. According to Jack & Diana Waite (Industrial Archeology), the company was founded in 1850, but this plant was built in 1917. Eventually Arrow moved south and the building has been resurrected as an office building. In the restoration, the original multipane industrial windows were replaced by large panes of glass, but there appear to be a few of the original ones left. But still, notice how the top and bottom floors are separated out from the middle floors.

Colonial Revival

Beaux Arts is a specialized form of Colonial Revival but over time, Beaux Arts got simplier and in a sense morphed in to Colonial Revival. (So it is subjective whether a building is Beaux Arts or Colonial Revival.)

  • The Colonial Revival Hendrick Hudson Hotel in Troy is 7 stories tall. The first story is clearly marked off, in white. And the upper floor is separate by a simple concrete stringer course connecting the sills.

  • The WYCA in Troy is a Colonial Revival/modest Beaux Arts structure. The main thing here is that the first and top floors are set off by a concrete stringer course. Note the balustrade along the cornice. And the front entranceway is the "paste-on" temple front so typical of the Georgian a.k.a. Colonial style.

  • The Caldwell Apartments on Second and State are sort of hard to categorize, but I guess it is a sort of Colonial Revival. But note how the first floor is separated out by the use of concrete, while the top floor with its numerous bay windows, is almost like an oversized cornice.

  • The Monument Square Apartments on River opposite City Hall also have the first, second, and top stories separated visually from the middle floors. (All it takes is a little strip styrene to do this.)

Art Deco

The Art Deco style was designed specially as a way to treat skyscrapers. It's main spotting feature is the set-back, which came about under zoning laws.

  • This Art Deco skyscraper in Rutland, VT has a story-tall "cornice" and the first floor is set off from the rest of the building.

  • The City Hall in Kansas City.

  • The Kansas City Power & Light Co.

  • The Chemco Tower Building in Syracuse, NY. It looks like a lot of City Classic kits were used.

  • One of my favorite examples of Art Deco is the Alfred Smith Office Building in Albany.

  • Another classic example was the former Montgomery Ward building in Menands, NY (just north of Albany). It was built in 1929 and was both a department store and distribution center.


  • This fabulous four-story store on the corner of Fifth and Fulton had quite different treatment per story. This is a High Victorian Gothic building (note the pointed arches over the windows), similar to the Rice building but without the mansard roof. Also note the double-thick brick walls at the windows, a Troy hallmark.

  • One of Troy's masterpieces is the Troy Savings Bank. Its architecture is quite unique, but not the different treatments per floor.
By the way, the top of the building is a music hall, with some of the best acoustics in the world. (They don't know exactly why, but they so dread making any change that would affect the acoustics, the hall still has its original hard wood seats, and they refuse to air condition it, so the hall doesn't get used during the summer.)

  • The Champlain Silk Mill in Whitehall, NY was a 6-story affair. But the first two floors are treated to look like a foundation, and the top floor has different, semicircular-arched windows.

  • Okay, a little truth in advertising. Not ALL steam-era structures did this. The Quackenbush Warehouse, I believe in Albany, had all upper floors identical.

  • This five-story factory on River Street, now the home of Marvin Neitzel, is also separated into a 1/3/1 pattern. According to Jack & Diana Waite (Industrial Archeology), the original Troy Waste Manufacturing Co. (est. 1883) caught on fire in 1907 and all the cotton waste kept burning for two full months, the longest fire in Troy. This new plant was built shortly thereafter, and the company lasted until 1943.

  • The Burdett Building (probably named after the same prominent Troy citizen as the street on which Davison Hall is located) on River Street at the foot of Broadway is hard to classify. (Maybe a Beaux Arts, as the pilasters seem to be treated like Grecian columns.) But the main thing is that the first two stories are grouped and separated from the top three. (The building is undergoing a major renovation, which is why the mismatched paint job.)
By the way, the RiverSpark Visitor Center used to be in the basement of this building.


See High-Rises.