Through drawing on the writings of Ruskin and observations of three Melbourne buildings, this chapter argues against the conceptual thinness of surface in nineteenth and twentieth century architectural theory and charts a return to surface as spatial and substantial. Ruskin’s writings on fragments and surfaces are rescued – from the dissonance between nineteenth century visual culture’s surface orientation and architectural theory’s emphasis on structure and space – to recast a theory of buildings as dressed bodies. Ruskin’s view of architecture as pure surfaceness – a point of discursive rupture – opens up the spatial field, so that surface can be reimagined as elemental to architecture.