Compiled by Preservation magazine, “40 Under 40 Places” assembles 40 of the most important, compelling, and interesting American places under 40 years old. The list includes sites both urban and rural, and high-end and low-budget. While places are not typically considered “historic” until they have been around for at least 50 years, Preservation magazine has chosen to highlight these younger sites to broaden public awareness of the value of saving these significant locations BEFORE they become truly historic. Dattner Architects and Grimshaw Architects’ Via Verde is one of seven sites featured in 40 Under 40’s Housing category.
Nearly a decade ago, NYC HPD, AIA New York, NYSERDA, and Enterprise Community Partners sponsored an international architectural competition to transform a former South Bronx freight yard. The goal was to create affordable, sustainable housing in an era of accelerating urban growth. The Phipps Houses/Jonathan Rose Companies/Dattner Architects/Grimshaw Architects’ winning entry, Via Verde was completed in 2012 as an affordable, sustainable, mixed-use development.
“It’s such a unique site that the design is not replicable, but since we designed it there has been a lot of innovative work on affordable housing in New York City that incorporates and builds on elements of Via Verde.” – William Stein FAIA, Dattner Architects’ Principal
The building takes the form of a “tendril” rising from grade to the tower, enclosing the courtyard and emphasizing a relationship to the natural world. A dynamic garden serves as the organizing element for residents and the community. The ground level courtyard spirals upward through a series of programmed roof gardens, creating a promenade for residents. The top floor of the tower contains a multi-purpose community room with access to a terrace and spectacular views. The gardens create opportunities for active planting, fruit and vegetable cultivation, recreation, and social gathering, while providing added benefits of storm water control and enhanced insulation. The ground floor features retail, a community health center, and live-work units, creating a lively street presence.
Since its completion, Via Verde continues to be an example of how to develop the next generation of social housing. Dattner Architects’ Principal William Stein FAIA reflects on Via Verde’s enduring impact: “[Via Verde] is symbolic in that government agencies, developers, architects, and designers think about affordable housing not as being utilitarian, but aspirational and holistic.”
From January 7-18, 2019, the public will be able to vote for their favorite places with top vote-getters featured in the Spring 2019 issue of Preservation. Preservation is the award-winning magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.