Opening today at the Center for Architecture in New York, the ‘Low Rise High Density’ exhibition examines a housing type celebrated in the 1960s and ‘70s, and what it means in the United States today. Co-sponsored by the Institute for Public Architecture with AIA New York, architectural drawings, photographs, and oral histories will be presented with project architects, tracing the typology over the last 50 years. The exhibition will be on view until June 29. More information after the break.
Forty years ago, low-rise, high-density housing offered a substitute for the high-rise model then dominating public housing in the United States. Dense enough to achieve urban benefits such as access to public transportation and civic and commercial amenities, while also providing a sense of individual identity for residents and accommodating an integration of open space, the type attempts to combine the benefits of urban and suburban living. Presenting architectural drawings, photographs, and oral histories with project architects, Low Rise High Density traces this housing type over time.
The consideration of environmental and social ideas embedded in low-rise, high-density housing is as urgent now as it was when the type was first developed. Today, as Americans increasingly prefer dense neighborhoods and multifamily housing, we can look at the type as an alternative to suburban sprawl.
This exhibition is the first public program sponsored by the Institute for Public Architecture (IPA), a new organization promoting socially-engaged architecture through urban research projects and a future residency program for design practitioners. By supporting architects and allied professionals working in the public interest, the IPA strives to improve our public realm.
A multimedia installation will allow visitors to experience full oral histories with architects of seminal low-rise, high-density housing projects. Interviews are by Karen Kubey, with surviving early members of the Swiss firm Atelier 5 (Alfredo Pini, Jacques Blumer, Anatole DuFresne, Fritz Thormann) and architects of Marcus Garvey Park Village (1973, Brownsville, Brooklyn) with the Urban Development Corporation and the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (Kenneth Frampton, Assoc. AIA, and Theodore Liebman, FAIA).
Low Rise High Density addresses the lack of contemporary scholarship on this housing type. Despite its continued relevance from a socio-environmental standpoint, current architectural discourse focuses much more frequently on single-family homes or free-standing high-rise development. There are, for instance, no interviews published in English on the seminal low-rise, high-density housing designed by Atelier 5.
Curator Karen Kubey began work on the topic while completing her master of architecture degree at the Columbia University Graduate School for Architecture, Preservation and Planning (GSAPP). The initial oral histories and travel research were supported by an Oral History Award from the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture and a GSAPP Post-Graduate William Kinne Traveling Fellowship.
The exhibition is designed by The Letter D, and curated by Karen Kubey. For more information on the exhibition, please visit here.
Sponsors: AIA New York, Institute for Public Architecture, The MacDowell Colony, New York State Council on the Arts
Friends: Belden Tri-State Building Materials, Grimshaw Architects, James McCullar Architecture, PC, Magnusson Architecture and Planning, PC, Rawlings Architects, PC, Robert Silman Associates, Tsao & McKown Architects
Special Thanks: The Architectural League of New York, Columbia Center for Oral History, Facoltà di Architettura, Cesena, Italy, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, New York University Book Store, Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, Urban Omnibus
Curatorial Team: Nicky Chang, Rebecca Costanzo, Arianne Kouri, Sarah Rafson, Sara Romanoski, James Walsh
Research and Production Assistance: Oriana Cole, Luca Farinelli, Millay Kogan, Jeremy Lydic, Andrea Simone
Transcription and Translation: Elsa Brute de Rémur, Emjay Transcripts, Merran Swartwood, Yvonne Zivkovic