A non-profit group in Chicago wants to open a museum dedicated to American public housing in the Former Public Housing Authority Building.
"To those who regard the plan as a gruesome joke-a museum celebrating hellish high-rises?-there is a simple retort: Not all public housing was high-rise. And not all the stories are bad ones. The point of the museum is to keep the memories alive, not only to provide a touchstone for former public housing residents, but also to learn from the past and build better communities in the future.
That's why it makes sense to recycle the building at 1322-24 W. Taylor St., the lone remaining structure left from the Depression-era Jane Addams Homes, which were razed to make way for a new mixed-income development called Roosevelt Square. It's the real deal, designed in a stripped Bauhaus style by a team of architects led by Chicago's John Holabird of the renowned firm Holabird & Root.
Look beyond the boarded-up windows, and you see a model exercise in doing more with less: a symmetrical brick facade, originally punctuated by steel-sash windows that brought in ample natural light and allowed for cross-ventilation. Architectural details, such as streamlined porches, relieved the austere aesthetic. Along with a courtyard that allowed many parents to watch their children from their apartments, clusters of apartments grouped around multiple entries gave the place a human scale missing from the infamous, postwar mega-projects."