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Unformatted text preview: construction of low-income housing (Hays 1985; Listokin 1991). Meanwhile, the designers of low-income housing began to reject the distinctive modernist-style architecture that had characterized, and now stigmatized, public housing. The new thinking about the form of low-income housing, foreshadowed in the criticisms of Bauer and others in the 1950s, received official standing in 1968 when a presidential commission condemned the idea of large-scale high-rise projects (National Commission on Urban Problems 1968). Although some monumental housing projects continued to be built during the 1960s and 1970s, designers groped for more responsive subsidized housing forms. In Boston’s Villa Victoria, John Sharratt mixed building sizes by combining towers with row houses. Other projects—such as the Martin Luther King Community designed by Hartford Design Corporation in Hartford and Woodlawn Gardens designed by Stanley Tigerman in Chicago—consisted of courts of low-rise buildings that retained some of the austere image of public housing (Bowly 1978; Progressive Architecture 1971, 1980). But architect Hugh Stubbins demonstrated the wave of the future in the late 1960s when he designed Warren Gardens in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood as a town house development. Abandoning the extreme modernist style altogether, Stubbins demonstrated that low-income housing could be made to look indistinguishable from housing for the middle-class market (see figure 6) (House and Home 1972). In the 1970s, architect Oscar 438 Alexander von Hoffman Figure 6. View of Warren Gardens, Roxbury, MA, Hugh Stubbins and Associates, Architects Source: Photograph by Jonathan Green. Courtesy of the Frances Loeb Library, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University. Newman published a set of design principles formulated to ensure the maximum amount of safety through private entrances and enclosed semiprivate open spaces (Newman 1972). Applying Newman’s principles, designers began to build new housing and rebuild old public housing in ways they hoped would give their low-income residents a sense of connection to, not isolation from, the community at large. Persistence of high ambitions
During the 1980s, the advocates of good low-income housing responded to the budget retrenchment of the Reagan administration by finding new ways to produce housing. Community development corporations and other nonprofit groups emerged as leading developers of subsidized low-income housing. Funded at first primarily by foundations and corporations and later, under Presidents Bush and Clinton, by government, these groups now produce about 30,000–40,000 units of housing annually, equal to the levels of production of public housing during the 1950s. High Ambitions: American Low-Income Housing Policy 439 Although housing advocates of today have learned much from the experiences of the past, the visionary idealism that has characterized the housing movement in the past persists in new forms. The idea that the manipulation of the environment can improve the social circumstances and behavior of the poor still persists, but not in the form of a v...
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