A rendering of Bernheimer Architects’ 1490 Southern Boulevard senior housing development in the Bronx. Image courtesy of Bernheimer Architects.
Writing about Twin Parks in 1973, former Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger speculated that the project could “turn out to be significant in the history of housing design”. […] design, however compassionate, can mean nothing against the obstacles that constitute the housing problem today.
The calculation is the same half a century later. But the South Bronx is not. Gradually it was rebuilt. Progress is not impossible, it is a process. — The New York Times
The two developments seen in the South Bronx, 1490 Southern Boulevard and a transformation of the Lambert Houses, are seen as examples of efficient, high-quality social housing that provide residents with more than just scrappy amenities. the Time the reviewer broke down the new developments by Dattner and Bernheimer Architects, first cautioning us with a history lesson on nearby Twin Parks (which Paul Goldberger says could “turn out to be significant in the history of the housing design” when it opened in 1973), adding that he believes the pair offer “models for remaking” many of NYCHA’s other 302 campuses.
“It’s an 18-story building with 163 permanent affordable units and a doorman. The boxy, drab exterior, set just steps from the street wall, looks almost bellicosely unremarkable. But the interior of the building is comfortable, luxurious even, compared to the deteriorated apartments and hallways I have seen in older buildings. Essential to the reconversion, no tenant is displaced by the new construction.
Kimmelman also spoke of the inability of architects and decision-makers to grasp the effectiveness of their designs before they are put into use: “Writing about architecture before buildings are operational is a guessing game. A few years isn’t long in the life of a development, but tenants can at least have moved in and be wondering how things are going.