On the Limits of Social Change Through Design

Ginia Bellafante looks at the fate of a public housing project conceived with much fanfare in the early 1970s by progressive architects following the theory of 'Defensible Space' authored by architect and planner Oscar Newman.

"Mr. Newman’s work brought momentum to a movement, here and abroad, for more intimately conceived apartment buildings, especially for the poor, one of the most celebrated examples of which was Marcus Garvey Village, with 625 apartments, in Brownsville, Brooklyn," explains Bellafante. "Visiting Marcus Garvey today, it is nearly impossible to imagine the excitement that surrounded its groundbreaking 40 years ago, but it was born of thrilling alliances, as an exhibit at the Center for Architecture downtown, titled 'Low Rise High Density,' illustrates."

"The fate of Marcus Garvey Village is not addressed in the Center for Architecture’s show, but the sense of exuberant experimentation that attended the project could not insulate it from the problems of poverty that have troubled Brownsville for decades," Bellafante continues. "As one former official at the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development told me, Marcus Garvey actually makes the ailing towers of the Housing Authority so heavily concentrated in Brownsville 'look good.'”

Full Story: A Housing Solution Gone Awry


building block set

NEW! Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95

Stay thirsty, urbanists

These sturdy water bottles are eco-friendly and perfect for urbanists on the go.