This typology for apartment building and hotel types is an outgrowth of our investigations into
commercial architecture. Although apartment buildings have received some attention from historians in recent years, those studies have been largely confined to such major cities as New York, Washington, and Chicago. Little of significance from these studies is applicable to Utah. Research into 19th- and 20th-century publications on apartments or hotels gives some general information, but again, little of it applies to Utah buildings. The following classifications were developed specifically for apartment buildings and hotels in Utah.
This categorization system is based on the form of the building and its orientation to the site, and secondarily on the points of entry and the pattern of circulation within the building. Floor plans have not been studied in detail. Thirteen major types have been identified, most with subtypes, ranging from the double house to the “H” apartment block.
Double houses are basically duplexes. Depending on the form, a duplex can have the appearance of two mirror-image halves of a building connected together, or of a single unit with fenestration symmetrically arranged to reflect the interior division. There are a few types of double houses, which for purposes of survey fieldwork are not distinguished from each other in the Utah SHPO database. However, for general knowledge they are included here.
Double House: A
This type was referred to as the “double cottage” in pre-Civil War architectural works and as the “double residence” or “pair of houses” after the Civil War. It consists of two living units under one roof. The building is similar in scale and appearance to a single-family house. The two units usually have separate entries and may be either one or two stories high.
Double House: B
Version B of the double house is a horizontally divided building containing one flat or apartment per
floor. Unlike A, type B often has a flat roof and is more urban in character. This type may have either
a single common entry for both units or separate entries. Adding a mirror image of the façade of this building—in effect doubling it—creates the four-unit block, below.
Double House: C
Type C includes buildings of one, one and a half, or two stories joined together at one end (literally a
double house) creating a self-contained unit. This type includes flat-roof examples. More than two such units constitute row housing.
Other Apartment Types
Like the double house, there are a several variations of historic apartment buildings, most of which are laid out in either a single- or double-loaded corridor or a walk-up. Again, for purposes of survey fieldwork the types listed below are not distinguished from each other in the Utah SHPO database but are included for general knowledge.
The four-unit block in essence is the mirror-image duplication of the Double House: B type. Entries for the units may be found on either side of the common wall or in a series of doorways. A variation of this pattern is separate first-floor entries and a common entry for the two second-floor units.
A row house consists of three or more single-family housing units of one or two stories joined together. This type is quite rare in Utah.
Apartment Block: A
The basic apartment block has two or more stories containing multiple dwelling units. Such buildings may be either horizontal or vertical blocks, depending upon the number of stories and the orientation
of the building to the site.
Horizontal blocks may be sited parallel to the street on a wide but not very deep lot. In such cases multiple entries are common in the façade. Such entries lead to foyers with adjacent stairs and—in later, taller buildings—elevators to the upper floors. Off the foyers or stair landings are generally located two or more apartments. Two apartments off each foyer or landing usually indicate a basic plan of two apartments running the depth of the building and separated by a common wall.
Apartment Block: B
Sites with limited street frontage or narrow width but great depth can contain horizontal blocks with a
single entry in the façade. Within the building, the apartments are usually arranged in a line on either side of a central hall, an arrangement referred to as a “double-loaded corridor.” Occasionally, on wider sites, two such buildings may be constructed parallel to each other with an open court between them. In such cases they may have either the multiple entries of type A or the single-entry, double-loaded corridor of type B.
Apartment Block: C
Square or nearly square sites usually result in an apartment block of two or more stories with a vertical emphasis. Such buildings frequently have a central entry in the façade.
“L” and “T” Apartment Blocks
The “L” block has two or more stories of multiple dwelling units arranged in an “L” configuration. The building may be built close to the street corner with two sides facing the streets, or the configuration may be reversed so that the building is set back on the site and preceded by a forecourt. The “T” block is similar in construction; most frequently, the cross-piece of the “T” is placed adjacent to the street. This form is commonly placed on lots in the middle of the block.
“C” Apartment Block
This type is not to be confused with the “U” court. The two side wings projecting from the back of the “C” are usually not deep, and the open space confined within the shape is too shallow or too small to be considered a real court. Entry into this type may occur at the ends of the wings, or the building may have multiple entries at the back of the “C.”
In the “U”-court form, the court is usually oriented toward the street. Such configurations may have either a single entry point at the base of the “U” behind the court or multiple entries, often one entry facing the court in each wing and one in the base. As in the perpendicular Apartment Block: B, a single entry leads to a foyer, stairs and/or elevator and to a double-loaded corridor. In the case of multiple entries, two or more apartments are located on each floor. Examples of the “U” court may be one or more stories in height. A less common variation is the reverse “U” court, with the court oriented away from the street.
A variant of the “U” court is the hotel court. In this type the first floor is reserved for commercial functions and the central court is open above that level. Laterally extended versions of this type containing a second court also can be found, as in the “E” or double court. The “E” court was a popular design for large hotels in urban areas
“H” Apartment Block
What appears at first glance to be a “U” court may turn out to be an “H” apartment block with a second court at the rear. Such designs provide improved light and ventilation to all units..
Following World War II, the inception of the “baby boom” brought an increase in family automobile vacations. The concept of long-distance road journeys had been around since the 1920s, when families would stay at auto camps and motor courts. However, the drastic increase in families hitting
the open road because of expanded and improved highway infrastructure warranted a more easily accessible and less-expensive form of overnight lodging.
Motels became the standardized form that replaced motor courts as a home away from home. Unlike hotels, instead of being situated in urban centers, motels are usually located conveniently along interstate off-ramps and highways. Another differentiating factor is the exterior access to the rooms in motels, as opposed to access from interior hallways; however, this is not always the case.
Although the term “motel” was coined in the 1920s, it did not come in to popular usage until the late 1940s. Motels are typified by an L-, T-, or U-shaped plan, which includes guest rooms and a manager’s office. Motels built within the past 30-40 years may typically include a restaurant, which shares the parking lot, and a swimming pool.
Motels sought to distinguish themselves by implementing bright and sometimes quirky neon signage. However, this trend faded as more standard corporate identification became the norm.