The removal of the facade of a building to use as the front of a new or reconstructed building. Also: facade-ectomy.
"My talk is about reinventing the preservation movement. I hope to shed some light on the challenges," he told the Deseret News in a phone interview from Chicago. After all, he noted, the preservation movement is more than 100 years old. Many of this country's oldest buildings have already been saved.
And yet, increasingly, architects and lovers of architecture find themselves faced with gray areas. For instance, is it better to engage in what Kamin calls a "facadectomy" when you can't save the whole building? In cities around the country, facades have been saved. The original ZCMI is just one example of a facadectomy in Salt Lake City.
—Susan Whitney, "Critic to address challenges of preservation effort," Deseret Morning News, April 15, 2008
Chicago is about to reveal that bad urban planning leads to bad historic preservation — and a botched cityscape where only the developers win. The case revolves around a plan to awkwardly tether the 11-story Farwell Building, a gracious Beaux-Arts dowager at 664 N. Michigan Ave., to a 40-story condominium tower that will be crammed onto a tiny site. But it has national implications because it is the latest instance of the controversial practice called the "facade-ectomy."
So named because it surgically preserves only the facade of a historic building and attaches it to a new structure, the facade-ectomy has surfaced with rising frequency in recent years, stripping structures across the nation — cast-iron buildings in Baltimore, red-brick warehouses in San Diego and post-Chicago Fire Victorians — of everything but their skin.
Often portrayed as historic preservation, the facade-ectomy tends to be something else altogether, merely smoothing the way to building permits for developers who covet the flexibility that comes from clearing historic sites.
—Blair Kamin, "Why bad planning = bad preservation," Chicago Tribune, April 15, 2007
Because of the current zoning and required floor-to-area ratio (FAR), any building constructed on the site of the Metropolitan could only be the current 19 stories. Does it make sense to tear down one building to build one later that is the same size? A new building might be more efficient from a space-planning standpoint; but, I cannot believe that there are not creative architects in this city who wouldn't welcome the challenge of designing new, efficient space while preserving at least the shell of the Metropolitan. (As a last resort, I will make the concession for a facadectomy.)
—James T. Bratton, "We should 'preserve' Dallas," The Dallas Morning News, January 4, 1985
This word combines facade, the principal face or front of a building (from the French façade, "face"), with the suffix -ectomy, the surgical removal of a body part (from the Latin -ectomia, "cutting out"). Note that the earliest citation uses facadectomy in a mainstream publication without any fanfare (quotation marks, a definition, a qualifier such as "so-called", and so on), which probably means the term is older than 1985.