Sunday, September 12, 2010

Reuse the Built Environment -- The Last of Cabrini Green

Out of deference for our past and for a better understanding of our history, cities should be allowed to become layered with what precedes us. Buildings are repositories for memories, good, bad, and, mostly, complex. More effort should have been made to reuse Chicago's Cabrini Green.

The American impulse is often to conflate behavior with objects and, in an attempt to change the former, destroy the latter. One of the last buildings in the Cabrini Green public housing complex (1230 N. Larrabee Street, shown at left and, in detail, below) is in the process of being demolished. This is a waste.

Was 1230 N. Larrabee beautiful? No, but what replaces it will likely not be much better. Was it horrible? Yes, and no. This was people's home, filled with hope, disillusionment, and joy.

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