a couple of days ago i ran across a post over at one of my favorite blogs, architecture chicago plus, about the impending death of the stateway gardens in chicago. i was remind of a month ago when i was down near 35th and state standing on the 35th street green line platform when i saw the last of the stateway gardens all but torn down (my pictures are above and below). all that was left at the time were the structural core and the concrete floor slabs. i remember thinking how ghostly the building was at the time, it had a totally different feel than that of a building under construction. lynn becker of architecture chicago plus had this to say about the historical context of the development:
“the highrise was one of eight public housing towers built on a 33-acre site at 35th and state, just south of mies van der rohe’s iit campus, that opened in 1958 with the greatest of hope, but degenerated down through the decades into an anarchic, crime-ridden, drug and gang riddled residences of last resort that wound up being even worse than the slums they replaced. when the chicago housing authority created a “plan for transformation” in the mid-1990’s, the keystone of that transformation was annihilation – wiping out all of stateway gardens, and of the robert taylor homes, and cabrini-green, and just starting all over again.”
if you head over to architecture chicago plus and scroll down a bit you can read the full article including some information on the new mixed use, mixed income development plan devised by som. while i certainly don’t doubt the call to tear down these historical monsters, their paved “gardens” of no-man’s land between, and the decision to reintroduce the scale of the surrounding urban fabric, i question the approach to the housing and the breakdown of affordable rate units, especially given all the units being eliminated. unfortunately this problem isn’t isolated to the stateway gardens. nearly all of the cha units have the same problem, including neighboring robert taylor homes and the more northly cabrini-green.
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