Good morning. It’s Tuesday. We’ll look at Via Verde, which was planned as a model of beautiful, sustainable subsidized housing in the South Bronx, through the eyes of The New York Times’s architecture critic.
Credit…Daniel Arnold for The New York Times
When it opened in 2011, the Via Verde development in the South Bronx stood out as handsome and dignified, an attempt at better architecture and sustainable design that promised value to match the cost. Michael Kimmelman, The Times’s architecture critic, wrote at the time that Via Verde came with an ambitious goal: to reimagine subsidized housing. The development had features that were unusual for public housing, like a rooftop gym and a community garden where residents could grow fruits and vegetables, in a neighborhood that’s still short on options for fresh food.
I spoke with Michael, who has just taken a fresh look at Via Verde, about how it has fared.
You’ve kept up with residents there, who moved in 12 years ago. How do they feel about living there?
The residents tell me that they appreciate the fact that it is a very safe place, and the safety comes partly from the fact that it is, in effect, gated — the entrance is monitored by a concierge, a doorman behind a desk. That provides the place with a measure of security, because there’s someone to monitor who goes in and out, which a lot of housing developments didn’t include.
Partly for economic reasons, but also because in the 1960s and 1970s, housing projects were designed to have porous, open campuses that were full of entrances and exits and often had interlinked hallways. It was very difficult to police those spaces.
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