This new apartment building is so on-trend. Its name was one of the most popular for dogs and baby girls in 2020. Name aside, the building looks so now. It is all arches, inside and out. Arched doors, windows, awnings, portals, mirrors. Every arch is different in shape, this variability a motif itself. And the variability is not shy. Assertively mismatched arches. So many arches. We are in an arch moment. Arches are so on-trend (although all for looks, void of utility). (A window manufacturer tries to rationalize this once very rational thing: “While windows with rounded tops are no longer needed to add structural support in modern homes, they still offer a bevy of benefits . . . architectural interest . . . extra light . . . design flexibility.”)

Of the many new, arguably anachronistic, building motifs, a critic has reported, “Designers say they aren’t copying the past — or reshaping it into a gaudy pastiche — but combining the best of new and old to create something uniquely modern.” The arches here, in frantic variation, are exactly a pastiche. The on-trend look, like many other motifs, is a marketing ploy. It is selling itself as current, fully in the now. It is fast fashion, in built form.

Fast fashion is growing out-of-fashion in the fashion industry. Its disposability poses environmental concerns, its price poses labor concerns. If buildings can effectively be fast fashion, then by analogy with fashion itself, for every five new buildings, three would be demolished. Less than one percent of what was demolished would be reused in new buildings.  With the large supply of buildings, each one would be used less (think big empty buildings, ownership of multiple homes, seemingly endless choice when shopping). Sounds right. Right?

The arches at this building are not alone. Up and down the avenue are even more new buildings featuring arches, although more restrained in their consistency and rhythm. The variability of the arches at this one building stands out. Evidence that this building is so much more committed to being in the now, at every turn and on every face and in every which way possible. The other buildings up and down the avenue are a bit slow. This building is fast.

While so many talk about finding a solid “forever home” and commit to 30-year mortgages, the fresh look of something new and now and not-at-all forever is seductive. So, go on, enjoy those arches.

Neena Verma is a practicing architect, teacher and writer based in New York City. Her work queries the limits of contemporary architectural discourse — culturally, geographically and temporally. She is currently an Architecture Writing Fellow at the Cooper Union, faculty at Parsons School of Design and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and principal of an eponymous practice that pursues small-scale, forward-thinking architectural works.

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.



We’ve grown used to things being strange. And to things being very familiar. A series of short texts by architect and writer Neena Verma on the ins and outs of our whereabouts.