Prodigy of the Depression:
NYCHA Is Born and Changes the Housing Model in New York

Tue, Jul 9, 2019
Prodigy of the Depression: NYCHA is born

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) today struggles to maintain its aging portfolio of 176,000 tower-in-the-park apartments, but in the 1930s NYCHA pioneered a revolutionary and popular vision of urban living: large-scale, master-planned, low-density, center-city apartment communities. Guest curator and historian Nicholas Bloom, author of Public Housing that Worked, will describe the creation of NYCHA in 1934 and trace the impact of its early projects. Architect Leonardo Tamargo, the museum’s designer for HOUSING DENSITY, will outline discoveries of the exhibition research that “shed light” on the seminal role of the Technocrat Frederick L. Ackerman, NYCHA’s Technical Director, and his associate William F.R. Ballard.


Nicholas Dagen Bloom, currently at NYIT, will be joining the faculty of Hunter College as a Professor of Urban Policy and Planning in the fall of 2019. He is the author or editor of nine books on urban development, including Public Housing That Worked: New York in the Twentieth Century (Penn, 2008); co-editor with Matthew Lasner, Affordable Housing in New York: The People, Places, and Policies That Transformed a City (Princeton, 2015); and How States Shaped Postwar America: State Government and Urban Power (Chicago, 2019).

Leonardo Tamargo is an architect and researcher. He holds an MS in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture from Columbia University, and a MArch from Universidad de Valladolid, Spain. He has been an adjunct professor of design at Universidad de Valladolid, and a guest critic at Columbia University. He has worked at the architecture firms Estudio Herreros and Labpap. Currently, he works as a researcher and designer at The Skyscraper Museum, including a central role in the project Housing Density. His most recent research focuses on the role of Frederick L. Ackerman and William F. R. Ballard in the evolution of housing and zoning in New York City.