Space is at a premium in urban areas, and will likely only become a more valuable resource with continued urbanization. But as newer apartment buildings are designed for existing neighborhoods, it's often important that they fit in with the local architecture. Height can be particularly problematic in historic areas. A design for an eight-story apartment building by David M. Schwarz Architects was initially rejected by the Historic Preservation Review Board in Washington D.C., who asked that the architects delete one floor. Instead, the architects found a way to alter the design to look less bulky. By changing a corner on the top floor and breaking up the lines on one side of the building with balconies, they were able to change how people perceive the size of the building and win approval. In doing so, they were able to retain most of the floor space, meaning more apartments on the land than would have been possible with one less floor.

We've talked before about how shape is a major factor in product functionality and resource use, but not about aesthetics. Have you seen other examples where shape influences how something is perceived, and how that in turn can influence resource use?

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