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2 T he literature concerning the modern movement in architecture is vast. In a recent work, Peter G. Rowe defines the important characteristics as follows: The by now familiar modern functionalist doctrine consisted of four central considerations: material integration and suitability; the expression of contemporary building construction and fabrication techniques; efficient use and layout of buildings; and the propagation of a new spatial order devoid of all references to the past. (Rowe 1993, 43) High Ambitions: American Low-Income Housing Policy 427 1930s, Bauer and designers such as Henry Wright heralded recent European innovations in housing, applauding the streamlined functional-looking image championed by the modernist or international school. The modernist-oriented designers particularly celebrated the German Zeilenbau style, in which parallel rows of two- to four-story apartment buildings were aligned along an eastwest orientation and situated in superblocks (large blocks that exceed standard city block sizes) (Bauer 1934a; Plunz 1990). During the 1930s, public housing architects and officials fashioned the Zeilenbau style to American cities and created a mold for much subsequent public housing. Oscar Stonorov created an early prototype of the American Zeilenbau style at the Carl Mackley Houses, built from 1933 to 1934 in Philadelphia for the Hosiery Workers Union.3 His design softened the severe Zeilenbau lines of the apartment buildings with indentations and added American amenities such as courtyards, laundries, and parking garages (see figures 1 and 2) (Bauer 1934a; Bauman 1987; Plunz 1990; Pommer 1978; Sandeen 1985).
Figure 1. View of Children’s Wading Pool, Carl Mackley Houses, Philadelphia, PA, W. Pope Barney, Architect Source: Architectural Record 78(5), November 1935. Photograph by F. S. Lincoln. Permission for use granted by A rchitectural Record. The Carl Mackley Houses project was begun before the start of the public housing program and was financed in part by a loan from the PWA (Straus and Wegg 1938). 3 428 Alexander von Hoffman Figure 2. Plan, Carl Mackley Houses, Philadelphia, PA, W. Pope Barney, Architect Source: Architectural Record 78(5), November 1935. Permission for use granted by Architectural Record . The aesthetic designs and amenities in some early public housing projected an image of superior housing, especially when compared with the old, dilapidated housing of the slum districts. Particularly good designs characterized, for example, Techwood Homes in Atlanta, a handsomely landscaped project that included parking garages and modern kitchens; Harlem River Houses, an attractive restatement of the garden apartment typology; and Lakeview Terrace in Cleveland, Ohio, where the Zeilenbau style was adapted to a sloping site above Lake Erie. These projects compared favorably with commercially produced apartment building complexes of the day (Architectural Forum 1938; Pommer 1978). High Ambitions: American Low-Income Housing Policy 429 Many, perhaps most, of the first generation of public housing projects, however, fell short of these high architectural standards. Th...
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