Smith Tower, SeattleSmith Tower, originally built for a typewriter tycoon when those machines were high-tech, was the tallest U.S. building west of Ohio when it was constructed in 1914.
At the top of the structure, above even the observation deck, is a single apartment. That residence, in the terra cotta-clad tower's pyramid-shaped cap, became grander in 1999 upon completion of a $28 million renovation and rewiring of the building. The project's main purpose was to add modern amenities such as air conditioning and a fiber-optic telecommunications system. But removing a 10,000-gallon cast-iron water tank in the tower's crown allowed for the conversion of a small caretaker's apartment, the office building's only residence, into a multistory penthouse apartment.
Container City, LondonContainer City I, was assembled in just five months in 2001. The result was a brightly colored, three-story structure, with balconies, porthole windows and 12 live-work studios for artists. Soon, a fourth floor was added, yielding three more apartment/studios. The company behind the project, Urban Space Management, expanded it again when it built Container City II in 2002. This added 22 artist work spaces, as well as interconnecting walkways and an elevator.
Armory Arts Village, Jackson, Mich.Armory Arts Village's first phase, completed in 2008, turned three prison buildings into 62 apartments, with additional work spaces and galleries. Plans for the next phase include adding 49 residences for seniors, as well as a community activity center, a gallery in which artists can display and sell their work, and other amenities.
Packard Motor Car Building, Philadelphia
Bass Lofts, Atlantaloft apartments with traces of the structures’ original function. The main-floor hallway still has lockers, for example, and some lofts have blackboards or original doors with transom windows. Bass High School, built in the 1920s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was converted into apartments in 1998. A classroom building has 85 units, and the former gymnasium has 18. A third building brings the number of rental units to 133.
The Police Building, New York
The success of the transformation helped kick off the trend of turning landmark historic properties into apartment buildings. It also means that you'll need more than a police officer's salary to move into The Police Building, where a four-bedroom apartment was recently listed for more than $16 million.
Ladder 3 Lofts, Lynn, Mass.Ladder 3 Lofts. Development firm Resource Capital Group converted the former Franklin Firehouse, which housed the Lynn Fire Department's Ladder 3 Company, to luxury apartments in 2006. Previously, the firm converted two other Lynn buildings into condominiums, and their names reflect their workaday origins: the Boston Machine Lofts and the Sloan Machinery Lofts.
Hundertwasserhaus, ViennaHundertwasserhaus apartment complex has become a Vienna tourist attraction, even though the 52 residences themselves are closed to visitors. But there's plenty to see on the outside of this fanciful building, which was completed in 1984.
The structure's façade features bright swaths of blue, red, yellow and white, with lines of ceramic tiles marking the boundaries of separate apartment units. The building has two towers topped with onion-shaped domes, and trees and grass grow on the soil-covered roof. Other plants grow from balconies, and the building has undulating floors and windows of irregular sizes and shapes. Statues and colorful pillars add to the decor.