The 1950s and 1960s in Hyde Park were fraught with fear and uncertainty about the future of the neighborhood. Buildings were deteriorating, “undesirables” were moving in, and people were worried that Hyde Park was on its way to becoming a slum. The University considered the threat so great that it even (briefly) considered moving out of Hyde Park.
Urban renewal – the clearing and rebuilding of entire city blocks – was introduced to Hyde Park in the mid-1950s in the hopes that it would curtail the urban blight.
Today, the developments of modern townhomes scattered across Hyde Park form a ubiquitous, but often-overlooked part of the architectural legacy of urban renewal. The townhomes are particularly interesting as urban renewal projects because the Hyde Parkers who were to live in them had an unusual degree of influence over their design and construction. We will look closely at these modern townhome developments and ask what they can tell us about their first residents believed about relationships between home and street, neighbor and neighbor, and private and public space.
The Walk will be led by Justin Manley, a fourth-year undergraduate studying math at the University of Chicago. Justin is interested in uncovering the overlooked stories and significance of unspectacular, everyday, ubiquitous architectures. In the past, he has written about architecture and planning at outoftheyards.com. He may some day do so again.
During the Walk, we’ll stop at:
- I. M. Pei’s modern townhomes along 55th Street
- Ben Weese’s New Gardens
- Ezra Gordon’s The Commons
- Harry Weese’s Coop Square