They seem to do things differently in New York, don't they?

While the rest of the nation, and probably the world, loves the look of a rich and classy red brick building, leave it to New Yorkers to turn the idea on its head.

In "Seeing White Brick Buildings in a New Light," The New York Times reports how people in Manhattan are coming to appreciate white glazed-brick apartment buildings. Appreciation was a long time coming. For decades, these buildings lacked an identity. They did not have the history and nostalgia of pre-World War II residential construction. And they didn't have the modern shininess and amenities of recent apartment buildings.

But the white variety, built mostly in the 1950s and 1960s for couples and single professionals, has its fans. "When buildings replace white brick with red brick and a full historical limestone base, I see people who are defeated and don't believe in the future," said Françoise Bollack, and architect and associate professor at Columbia University. "They want something that looks historic because they think it looks classy. In 20 years, they'll regret it."

Some thought white brick buildings brightened the skyline, but other disagreed, especially those in Greenwich Village who thought they destroyed the area's "signature raffishness," said Katherine Husband, a graduate student at Columbia who is writing her master's thesis on white brick buildings (no kidding).

And the story quotes a woman who recently moved into a white brick apartment building, even though she is not a big fan of the look. She remembers what her father once told her: "You live inside the house, not outside."

Is there room for white glazed-brick in your portfolio? Probably not. But maybe the lesson here is that it's time to think more creatively. So far, conventional thinking is not getting the construction industry back on its feet.

Finally, this is a good time to plug the July issue of our magazine, which will include a fascinating feature about how to properly blend brick of different colors-white not included.

You can read the Times article at