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Le corbusier a swiss born modernist style architect

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Unformatted text preview: eenery. Le Corbusier, a Swiss-born modernist-style architect, exerted a powerful influence on a generation of designers who were mesmerized by his bold drawings of what he called the contemporary city. The movement for tall modernism also gained support from city officials and developers who saw sleek skyscrapers as a way of modernizing the aging urban landscapes of postwar America (Hall 1988). 432 Alexander von Hoffman The arguments that housing should take the form of tall modernism had little to do with reality. Before the war, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and other modernists had argued for a new urban environment made up of “towers in the park” by appropriating traditional housing reformers’ rhetoric about the need for low population densities and open space in the city (Le Corbusier 1947, 1967; Sert 1947). In a bizarre twist on the community planning tradition that had informed Garden City–style housing projects in the United States and Europe, tower-in-the-park theorists subscribed to the notion that elevator buildings would reproduce earthbound neighborhoods in the air. Accordingly, wide, often external, building corridors would somehow duplicate the complex functions and vitality of sidewalks and streets in the city below (Architectural Forum 1951; Yamasaki 1952). From the early 1950s, some designers and housers expressed qualms about what Bauer condemned as supertenements, but in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Chicago, officials embraced high-rise design with an almost insane tenaciousness (Bauer 1952, 1957; Bauer et al. 1957; Jacobs 1961; Journal of Housing 1952; Plunz 1990). The ambitions of the housers of the 1930s pale when placed next to the idealism of the housing officials, designers, and planners who believed that city dwellers had to live in skyscrapers. In cities such as St. Louis and Chicago, the high-rise apartment building was a key component in sweeping urban redevelopment plans meant to turn back deteriorating physical and social conditions. Without discussion and perhaps without much thought, the supporters of high-rise redevelopment simply assumed that modern structures would transform the low-income people who were streaming into America’s large cities (Chicago Housing Authority 1956–1963; St. Louis Post-Dispatch 1950, 1961; Teaford 1990). Explaining long-standing policy in 1965, the chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority declared, “Families who must or want to live in the inner city will have to learn to live with the high-rise building” (Brodt 1986, 18). Economy was often alleged as the reason for such large-scale structures, although the costs of sinking caissons, building elevators, and maintaining open spaces made tower-in-the-park public housing more expensive than low-rise developments. The new public housing schemes defied both common sense and the overwhelming evidence of Americans’ housing preferences. As it turned out, only the wealthy in luxury apartment buildings and the poor in public housing projects actually adopted this supposedly i...
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