The Crisis of Large-Scale Housing Production in the 1970s


Sponsored by the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture.

1973, the year of the first oil shock, marks a stark turning point in the conception of housing within architecture discourse. In the United States, a welfare-state approach toward low- and moderate-income housing was abandoned for a market-driven process. This change went hand-in-hand with a withdrawal of architects from the social project of housing, founded in a renewed belief in the autonomy of architecture. The separation between the social sciences and design disciplines continues to this day, as does the idea that quantity and quality, or socio-political demands and good design, are irreconcilable goals in housing.

On Tuesday, November 26, 2013 we hosted a panel discussion on the lasting impact of the turning point of 1973 in architecture discourse. Points of departure were the five articles of Candide no 7, released this past October: the role of housing in the thinking of O.M. Ungers; the ad-hoc methods in the housing research of Pearl Jephcott; the media’s instrumentalization of Emile Aillaud’s Grigny La Grande Borne; Ernst Göhner’s capitalist mass housing in Switzerland; and the heated debate preceding Aldo Rossi’s appointment at ETH Zurich in 1971.

The discussion included Hilary Sample, principal of MOS and professor, Columbia GSAPP; Claire Weisz, principal of WXY architecture + urban design; Gwendolyn Wright, professor, Columbia GSAPP; Susanne Schindler, Co-editor of Candide; and moderated by Reinhold Martin, Director of the Buell Center.


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