What is a Facade?

Face Up to It!

Facades Of City Buildings, with balconies and dish antennae
Facades Of City Buildings. Photo by Dundar Dayi/EyeEm/EyeEm Collection/Getty Images (cropped)

A façade is the front or face of anything, especially a building.

The French spelling is façade. A cedilla accent mark under the c tells us to pronounce the "c" as an "s" and not as a "k"—like "fuh-sod" instead of "fuh-kade." Facade or façade is a common word, so it's handy to know the definition and how it's used.

Other Definitions

"The exterior face of a building which is the architectural front, sometimes distinguished from the other faces by elaboration of architectural or ornamental details."—Dictionary of Architecture and Construction, Cyril M. Harris, ed., McGraw- Hill, 1975, p. 191.
"The front or principal elevation of a building. Sometimes other elevations are called facades, but the term usually refers to the front."—John Milnes Baker, AIA, from American House Styles: A Concise Guide, Norton, 1994, p. 172

Can a Building Have More than One Façade?

Yes. A large, ornate building, like the US Supreme Court Building, may have more than one major entrance, sometimes called the East or West Entrance or East or West Façade. For single family homes, however, the façade is considered the curb side or front of the building. Homeowners consider the façade and everything in front of the building to add or increase curb appeal. Modern homes that are less rectangular and more parametric may be 100% façade.

Historic Commissions often have regulations about façades of historic houses. Local historic districts often have rules about what can be seen from the street, including colors and color combinations of the façade and modernities attached to the curb side of a house.

For example, dish antennae are usually not allowed on the façades of historic buildings.

Can a Person Have a Façade?

Yes. With people, a façade is generally a "false face" of physicality or psychology. A person may use a machine to fake a summer tan. People use makeup to create a sense of beauty or take years off your face.

Some experts believe that civility can be a façade to keep people from harming each other. Characters in dramatic works can "camouflage" negative behaviors with façades of piety. And finally, "I was wincing underneath my brave facade," was said by a person getting a first tattoo.

Examples

  • The Ladd and Bush Bank in Oregon has a cast-iron facade.
  • Andrea Palladio modeled the façade of San Giorgio Maggiore after a Greek temple.
  • Early plans for the Park 51 Muslim Community Center called for airy lattice on the facade.
  • The NYSE Building in NYC has an imposing facade—or two.
  • Larry didn't know what he was talking about at the job interview, but he put on a good façade and got hired.

Tips and Tricks

  • Pronounced fa-sod
  • Derived from the Italian word facciata
  • The façade is the face of the building
  • Avoid people who aren't what they appear to be—a façade can cover up dishonesty and hide inadequacies.
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Your Citation
Craven, Jackie. "What is a Facade?" ThoughtCo, Jun. 9, 2017, thoughtco.com/what-is-a-facade-177276. Craven, Jackie. (2017, June 9). What is a Facade? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-facade-177276 Craven, Jackie. "What is a Facade?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-a-facade-177276 (accessed October 18, 2017).