Ed Driscoll

The Machine for Living in Minneapolis

James Lileks responds to a fellow Strib-writer’s defense of a brutal, Corbusier-inspired 1970s concrete apartment tower in Minneapolis:

If I’m a detractor, it’s because this complex embodies everything wrong with utopian urban planning. The author calls it “vibrant,” a word you always find associated with neighborhoods that have an edge (my old DC neighborhood was called “vibrant” as well as “romantically multicultural,” two terms I saw in an Amtrak magazine story a few days after the riots of ’91), but explain how living on the 38th floor contributes to street-level vibrancy. It doesn’t. You want vibrant, you want community, you want people to care, build ‘em low and make them look like they’re part of the long historical – dare I say classic – vocabulary of residential housing.

We once knew this instinctively, prior to the arrival of Corbusier and the Bauhaus. But then, they don’t call it the Great Relearning for nothing.