Urban Fold

A New Look for Affordable Housing in the Bronx

Via Verde is a subsidized housing development going up in a gentrifying part of the South Bronx, combining towers with townhouses and a contemporary design.

Michael Kimmelman writes that Via Verde "...makes as good an argument as any new building in the city for the cultural and civic value of architecture."

The project was a collaboration between two architectural firms, one with a reputation for high-end design but little experience with affordable housing. The other architect had a lot of affordable housing experience but isn't a design star.

"Unlike so many public-housing projects, Via Verde rethinks the mix of private and public spaces to encourage residents to spend time outside, in the fresh air. It breaks the mold of subsidized housing whereby clinics, low-income rentals and home ownership are all conceived, financed and regulated separately. Piecing them together, it takes the healthier, holistic tack."

Full Story: In a Bronx Complex, Doing Good Mixes With Looking Good



Michael Kimmelman

I was waiting to see what the NY Times' new architecture critic would be like. Now that he has said that this building is "handsome," it is obvious that his sensibilities have been so dulled by brutal, ugly, bare modernist buildings that he is relieved to see a brutal, ugly building that is not quite as bare.

At least he moves beyond Ouroussoff by saying: "The profession, or in any case much talk about it, has been fixated for too long on brand-name luxury objects and buildings as sculptures instead of attending to the richer, broader, more urgent vein of public policy and community engagement, in which aesthetics play a part."

Incidentally, Ouroussoff seemed to depart with very little fanfare. He seems to have been the least respected of recent NY Times architecture critics.

Charles Siegel

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