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Responding to a New York Times article that got it right

Posted: October 4, 2011

In last week's post, I reflected on an excellent Enterprise Community Partners institute I attended last week. Affordable housing developers and designers had a respectful and energized discussion on developing quality public housing. Within days of that workshop, the New York Times ran a fascinating article about innovative public housing in the Bronx. Reading about an excellent example of creative and responsive housing development so soon after attending the Enterprise forum prompted me to send The Times the following Letter to the Editor:

A Refreshing Approach to Developing Public Housing
Kudos to the New York Times for the recent front page article “In a Bronx Complex, Doing Good Mixes with Looking Good. ” Michael Kimmelman’s thoughtful architecture review has much to commend it—including a non-knee-jerk response to high quality design and “curb appeal” for public housing.  Those of us in the field of affordable housing have long been limited by the pressures to serve as many as possible AND the opinion of those who believe that the minimalist approach is “good enough for them.”  Mr. Kimmelman correctly points to the long-term value of good design. When buildings contribute to the urban design of the neighborhood, it can mitigate the NIMBY feelings that often accompany change.

The timing of this article was particularly interesting: I had just participated in the Affordable Housing Leadership Design Institute, a forum sponsored by Enterprise Community Partners. For 2 1/2 days, affordable housing developers met with some of the country’s best designers for intensive coaching/brainstorming.  The take-aways echoed Mr. Kimmelman: The learning environment with honest exchange and conservation-advancing design solutions advances excellence.  Putting Mr. Kimmelman’s piece on page one on arguably the best newspaper in the country is another!

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Comment by helen kass | 10/20/2011

Amy, your ability to respond with intelligence and energy s breath taking. And, it is also a great resource for JCHE. Thanks.