Top of Building: “Cornice”

“Preserve — Remove – Add”

Cornice – The top crown of a building. It is traditionally made of masonry or molded tin. In recent years the cornice has been abandoned altogether. Historians want you to preserve what is left on your building, but they don’t want you to replace if it is gone. I disagree! Too many of our downtown buildings are left incomplete when a flat large forehead of top space remains on your façade. Don’t think twice about adding this architectural element back onto your building. Do your best to do no harm to the existing structure.

The Challenges –
1. Scale should be your focus. A successfully designed cornice pays great attention to the distance down from the top, distance up from the head of the windows, and proper rhythm across the building.
2. Don’t be concerned about the projected distance outward. Make sure you tie the upper section of the cornice properly into the roof system to prevent future sagging.
3. If non-masonry, use lightweight materials to avoid stressing the existing façade. Try for light weight architectural trims.