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Affordable Housing in New York | Nicholas Dagen Bloom, Matthew Gordon Lasner and special guests | Architectural Explorations in Books Series Event

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FREE - Auditorium doors open at 5:30 p.m.

The high cost of housing has become one of New York City’s greatest challenges. Where did this crisis come from? And how can we solve it? Hillary Ballon, David Burney, Richard Dattner, Alexander Garvin, and Frederick S. Harris join leading housing historians Nicholas Dagen Bloom and Matthew Gordon Lasner in conversation about their new illustrated collection, Affordable Housing in New York: The People, Places, and Policies that Transformed a City.

NYCHA Poster, Benjamin Sheer, Federal Art Project, 1936, courtesy Library of Congress
NYCHA Poster, Benjamin Sheer, Federal Art Project, 1936, courtesy Library of Congress

Affordable Housing in New York sheds critical light on these urgent questions by reexamining the highs and lows of below-market housing in New York City over the past century. Beginning with the first government subsidies for housing in the 1920s and continuing through the large-scale public housing and Mitchell-Lama complexes of the 1950s and ‘60s to the community-led development and professionalized affordable housing industries of the twenty-first century, this discussion asks what worked in the past and what are the city's needs today? 

The challenges are formidable, but the commitment and creativity that brought us public housing that works, Stuyvesant Town and Co-op City, and, more recently, tens of thousands of affordable units in privately developed complexes like Via Verde, offer real solutions.

More than two dozen leading scholars tell the story of key figures from Fiorello LaGuardia to Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs to Ed Koch. Over twenty-five individual housing complexes are also profiled. Plans, models, archival photos, and newly commissioned portraits of buildings and tenants by David Schalliol put the efforts of the past century into social, political, and cultural context and look ahead to future prospects.

A richly illustrated, dynamic portrait of an evolving city, the book offers a comprehensive and authoritative history of public and middle-income housing in New York and contributes significantly to contemporary debates on how to enable future generations of New Yorkers to call the city home.

Copies of Affordable Housing in New York published by Princeton University Press in 2015 are available for purchase and signing at the end of event.

 Bell Park Gardens, Queens, ca 1949, courtesy Joe Lapal
Bell Park Gardens, Queens, ca 1949, courtesy Joe Lapal

Nicholas Dagen Bloom is associate professor of social science and director of the Urban Administration program at New York  Institute of Technology.

Matthew Gordon Lasner is assistant professor of urban studies and planning at Hunter College, where he teaches courses on U.S. and global housing, urbanism, and the built environment. His research explores the production of metropolitan U.S. space, with focus on the relationship between the design professions, social change, the market, and the state. He is author of the award-winning High Life: Condo Living in the Suburban Century (Yale, 2012). He earned his PhD at Harvard University, MS at the London School of Economics, and BA at Columbia University.

Hilary Ballon is University Professor and Professor of Urban Studies and Architecture at NYU. She also serves as Deputy Vice Chancellor, NYU Abu Dhabi. Ballon's scholarship focuses on cities and the intersection of architecture, politics, and social life. Among her recent publications/exhibitions are The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan and Robert Moses and the Modern City: The Transformation of New York (with Kenneth T. Jackson). Her academic awards include fellowships from the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at The New York Public Library, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the Andrew H. Mellon Foundation.

Highbridge House Mitchell-Lama, Bronx, brochure, ca 1965, courtesy Real Estate Brochure Collection, Columbia University
Highbridge House Mitchell-Lama, Bronx, brochure, ca 1965,
courtesy Real Estate Brochure Collection, Columbia University

David Burney, FAIA, is an Associate Professor of Planning and Placemaking at the Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture and Board Chair for the Center for Active Design. Burney worked as an architect at David Brody Bond until 1990, when he embarked on a 24-year career as one of New York’s key civil servants: first as director of design at NYCHA until 2003, and then as Commissioner of the City’s Department of Design and Construction from 2004 until 2014. He is a co-author of We Build the City: New York City's Design + Construction Excellence Program.

Richard Dattner, FAIA (Principal, Dattner Architects) founded the firm bearing his name in 1964. Under his leadership and creative direction, Dattner Architects has designed a wide variety of award-winning projects including the Via Verde housing development in the Bronx. Richard has taught design at Cooper Union, City College of New York, and University of Wisconsin and has often been a visiting design critic and lecturer. He is the author of Design for Play and Civil Architecture–The New Public Infrastructure.

Starrett City, Brooklyn, brochure, ca 1975, courtesy Real Estate Brochure Collection, Columbia University
Starrett City, Brooklyn, brochure, ca 1975,
courtesy Real Estate Brochure Collection, Columbia University

Alexander Garvin is currently president of AGA Public Realm Strategists, Inc., a planning and design firm in New York City, and president of the Forum for Urban Design. His extensive experience in urban planning includes his role as managing director for NYC2012, New York City’s committee for the 2012 Olympic bid. He has taught at Yale University for many years and is the author of numerous articles and books, including The American City: What Works, What Doesn’t and The Planning Game: Lessons from Great Cities.

Nehemiah Houses, East New York, Brooklyn 2013, courtesy Nadia Mian
Nehemiah Houses, East New York, Brooklyn 2013,
courtesy Nadia Mian

Frederick S. Harris has extensive experience in housing development. He served as Executive Vice President for Development at the New York City Housing Authority where he formulated proposals to develop mixed-use and mixed-income housing on land owned by the Authority. Harris has extensive private-sector experience including as Senior Vice President for Development at AvalonBay Communities, Inc, where he spent fourteen years overseeing the development of 5,330 apartments with a total cost of $1.89 billion.

In its seventh year Architectural Explorations in Books, initiated and organized by Arezoo Moseni, is a series of engaging programs delving into the critical role that architecture publications play in the understanding of contemporary urban developments and structures. The events feature book presentations and discussions by acclaimed architects, critics, curators, designers, photographers and writers.

Events at The New York Public Library may be photographed or recorded. By attending these events, you consent to the use of your image and voice by the Library for all purposes.

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