Decorating our buildings comes naturally. But common sense seems to indicate that you apply all this spendy paint or tile down where people can see it. Why do people put nice things all the way up there where you need a drone or binoculars to see it?
These cute little towers serve no practical purpose, on the top edge of a ten story building. They, and the stuff down the left hand side of this image, are simply to give a vaguely medieval air to a 20th century apartment block.
These Art Deco panels at the top of another building really can’t be appreciated from the street. This photograph was expanded by me so that you can admire their restrained elegance. They go all around the facade of this Portland State University building. Simply lovely, but why so high? Nobody can see them.
I blame the ancient Greeks. The famous friezes on the Parthenon were originally mounted up at the roofline. Back in BC there was no way for any Athenian to admire them once they were hoisted into place. We can view them now at the British Museum where they’ve been hung at eye level.
Which brings us around to why modern builders do it. It’s so that the new building can claim the knowledge and beauty of classical architecture. These decorations are at the top of a medical building. Clearly the building was intended from the beginning to house doctors, because the elaborate images are of a divinity holding a caudecus in either hand. Everyone who entered this building was going to get better, whether you could see the decorations or not!