Take a Tour of the Revitalized South Bronx

In this article and accompanying video, architecture critic Michael Kimmelman and Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden tour the Melrose section of the South Bronx. Along the way, affordability and density are apparent hallmarks of the undertaking.

"We didn't show in the video enough of the single family, brownstone-style housing that has also restored a little stoop life to various blocks, along with home-ownership. The latest census shows that people have been moving back to the South Bronx in big numbers. It's a still a poor neighborhood. Housing isn't the same as jobs, after all, but as Ms. Burden remarks in the video, one is dependent on the other. And in the end, because all parts of the the city are interdependent, the entire city benefits when this area improves."

Full Story: A Walk in the South Bronx With the Planning Commissioner and Our Architecture Critic



Irvin Dawid's picture

Really enjoyed the video of the tour of new housing in So. Bronx

Amanda Burden does for planning what Janette Sadik-Khan does for transportation in NYC.
But speaking of transportation - those streets where the video was filmed - were they WIDE or what?
I hope Amanda calls in Janette to consult to do a road-diet!

Best line: "You know a neighborhood has arrived when a Duane Reade wants in", states Ms. Burden.
Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

South Bronx Architecture

They have done a great job of creating a traditional urban fabric in the south Bronx, using the New Urbanist methods of including stores on the first floor, bringing the buildings up to the sidewalk, and so on. I also really enjoyed seeing that change for the better in the video.

Notice that the projects beginning in the 1990s (including the one with the Duane Reade) are in the post-modern style, which learns from traditional architecture, just as the New Urbanists learn from traditional urbanism. They have some traditional detailing, the break up the buildings visually by using different materials on the facade, they break up the first floor visually by having columns between window, dividing the window area into human-scale bays - all things that traditional New York apartment buildings do.

These buildings from 1990s are the main feature of the urban fabric, and they are what makes it appealing.

By contrast, the newest project, the Via Verde, is in the modernist style. Looking at the pictures of it beginning at about 2:49, you can see that the buildings repeat the same forms and are not broken up visually, do not seem to address the sidewalk, seem to have an interior space at 2:53 that looks very much like the interior of a modernist housing project from the 1960s.

Though I appreciate its green design features, I think that Via Verde does not do nearly as well as the 1990s buildings in terms of creating a traditional, human-scale urban environment

Charles Siegel

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