From Projects to Pediments

Housing Projects have always been an interesting issue for urban planners, designers, and architects to discuss. The problem of poverty is a big one, and one that has yet to be solved. There have been many models, yet none of them have been hailed as wildly successful. So today, many older housing projects are being torn down, demolished, and replaced with mixed income housing and strip malls. Basically, the idea is to replace these vertical ghettos with low rise housing with a portion dedicated to low income housing.

For the past nine months or so, Chicago has been trying something a little different. The Chicago Housing Authority has taken their 16 building Dearborn Homes low income housing project on South State Street, and is attempting to "beautify" the structures with pediments and keystones. It isn't clear how the units will be doled out when finished, whether it will all remain low income housing, or if they will try to sell most of the units as luxury condos and leave a percentage for low-income housing.

The CHA website
, under the clever heading that reads "CHAnge," provides video documentation with classical music and animations on many of their housing project developments.  The Dearborn Homes link, however, simply goes to a brief information page that states:

"Dearborn Homes is currently operating as one of the CHA’s “relocation resources,” providing capacity for residents who have moved from other developments undergoing redevelopment or rehabilitation. Plans for the property’s future are currently under consideration. "

Whether these homes become luxary condos, or maintain thier public status, interesting discussion is sure to follow. Will people buy these units that were once considered slums? Will pediments and keystones solve the problems that exist in public housing? We shall see.


Katia Savchuk said...

thanks for pointing this out. keep us posted!

Lucas Gray said...

This is an interesting idea. I'm not sure that dressing up the buildings to look like historical reconstructions is the right direction but it is an interesting approach to a big problem. It is better than relying on the old wrecking ball.

-Lucas Gray