lowincomehousing

The well to do occupied their luxury apartments for

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Unformatted text preview: nevitable new form of urbanism. The well-to-do occupied their luxury apartments for only part of the year and High Ambitions: American Low-Income Housing Policy 433 used their wealth to dine out, hire nannies, and otherwise make their lives easier. In contrast, low-income residents had to live in their high-rise apartments year-round without such conveniences. For them, the task of supervising children was complicated by living in high-rise buildings where neither the galleries with their loud acoustics nor the great expanses of open spaces were particularly apt recreation areas (Jacobs 1961; Newman 1972). The point here is not that effective child rearing is impossible in high-rise buildings—families live contentedly in the high-rises of Hong Kong and even New York City—but rather that the commitment to tall buildings was unrealistic and out of keeping with American tastes and values. While officials insisted on highrises, the working and middle classes were rejecting apartments and flocking en masse to inexpensive single-family homes in the suburbs of every American city. To be sure, designers produced some interesting interpretations of tall modernism. At Philadelphia’s Mill Creek housing project, for example, Louis Kahn designed three 17-story apartment buildings so that only four units shared a common corridor on each floor. In addition, Kahn’s plan included adjacent clusters of low-rise apartment buildings with their own courtyards and related tall and low buildings to one another within the larger site plan (Bae 1995; Bauman 1987). More typical, however, were the severe slabs with rows of apartments lining either side of a central corridor. In St. Louis, the housing authority hired the well-connected local firm Hellmuth, Leinweber, and Yamasaki. After Minoru Yamasaki’s design for the John J. Cochran Garden Apartments (an arrangement of 6-, 7-, and 12-story buildings with balconies to serve as porches) won honors in architectural circles, the authority built his design for the mammoth Pruitt-Igoe project of thirty-three 11-story buildings (see figure 4). Along one outer wall, the firm included deep hallways or “galleries” that were to function as playground, porch, and entryway to laundry and storage rooms, attracting residents and creating “vertical neighborhoods.” In Chicago, housing officials over a period of years constructed a four-mile strip of public housing highrises along South State Street, climaxing in 1963 with the completion of the world’s largest public housing project, the Robert Taylor Homes, a two-mile stretch of twenty-eight 16-story buildings containing over 4,300 units (see figure 5) (Architectural Record 1954; Bailey 1965; Bowly 1978). 434 Alexander von Hoffman Figure 4. View of Pruitt-Igoe Housing Project, St. Louis, MO, Hellmuth, Leinweber, and Yamasaki, Architects Source: Courtesy of the Frances Loeb Library, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University. Within a few years, such behemoths were beset by a myriad of serious problems. When federal authorities held down unit costs, local housing authorities compensated by increa...
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