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This sentence is from my essay. Is the semi-colon correct?

His most famous residence is the Kaufmann Residence; esteemed for its use of organic architecture with Japanese architectural components to create harmony with the residence and nature.

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While most proof reading questions are off topic, this one is fine (on that front) because it specifies the part of the sentence which is an issue. –  simchona Jun 17 '13 at 0:08
    
@simchona: ...and it is therefore not proofreading. –  Cerberus Jun 17 '13 at 0:12
    
@Cerberus: ...but it is perilously close to "writing advice", I feel. –  FumbleFingers Jun 17 '13 at 1:19
    
@FumbleFingers: Whatever that means, and whatever would be wrong with that... –  Cerberus Jun 17 '13 at 1:31
    
@Cerberus: As ever, I don't care much for questions on punctuation, which doesn't really exist in what I think of as "real" English. That's to say, the spoken form. (But I did upvote your answer - partly because obviously it was right, but mainly because of the "writing advice" that OP would do better to rephrase such a ????? sentence! :) –  FumbleFingers Jun 17 '13 at 1:39
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2 Answers

No, I'm afraid you need to replace it with a comma or recast the sentence (I would choose the latter). You'd normally only use a semicolon if the part that comes after is an independent sentence. This is not one of the typical exceptions.

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The general construction your sample exemplifies, in learned written English, is:

[Clause establishing topic], [Comment on topic]

In this case, the topic is "the Kaufmann Residence," and you have a comment consisting of an adjective phrase ("esteemed for..."). The comment need not be a full clause. Another example, from a piece of fiction occurring in the New Yorker:

She had a room on the side of a house, wobbly wooden stairs leading up.

When you use a semicolon to separate a topic-establishing clause and a comment, the comment must consist of a full clause. That is why it looks bad as it is.

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