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Events November 2020

DOCOMOMO NY/TRIModern Conversations

Building Modern to Save America’s Cities: Ed Logue’s Complex Career in Urban Renewal with Lizabeth Cohen

November 16, 2020

Urban Renewal of the 1950s through 1970s has acquired a very poor reputation, much of it deserved. But reducing it to an unchanging story of urban destruction misses some important contributions and genuinely impressive goals. Those include efforts to create socially mixed communities, to involve suburbs—not just cities—in solving metropolitan inequality, to hold the federal government responsible for funding more affordable housing, and to engage architects in building better subsidized housing.

As part of DOCOMOMO US/NY Tri-State's Modern Conversations series, Harvard professor Lizabeth Cohen will revisit this history by following the long career of Edward J. Logue, who worked to revitalize New Haven in the 1950s, Boston in the 1960s, and later New York State’s cities in the 1970s and 1980s. Logue engaged established and up-and-coming architects in a wide range of projects, ranging from Boston’s Government Center to the New York Urban Development Corporation’s Roosevelt Island, among many others. The numerous notable architects hired by Logue, one of the era’s most prolific patrons of Modern architecture, include: Paul Rudolph; Sert, Jackson & Associates; Kallmann & McKinnell; Philip Johnson; Peter Eisenman and the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies; Richard Meier; Gordon Bunshaft and John Johansen. 

Faced with the challenges of urban revitalization during the suburban boom of the second half of the 20th century, Logue made mistakes, but he also learned on the job and left a more complex legacy than is often recognized. Amid today’s crises of racial injustice, public health, economic viability, and urban resilience, it is more important than ever that we reexamine the history of efforts—successful and failed—to keep American cities and their built environments vital.

Lizabeth Cohen is the Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies at Harvard University and the former dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She is the author of Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919–1939, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the Bancroft Prize, and A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America. Her newest book, Saving America's Cities, won the 2020 Bancroft Prize. 

Our program coincides with the paperback publication of Saving America’s Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age, which will be published on November 17th. It can be purchased at Bookshop.org.

Monday November 16, 6:30 pm
Tickets are FREE for DOCOMOMO Members. $10 General Admission

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Advance registration is required.
Please note: this is a virtual program. Log-in information will be sent to registrants prior to the event.

Saving Americas Cities jacket v2
Marcus Garvey Planning Meeting 600
Planning the UDC’s Marcus Garvey Park Village, 1972. From Left: Ted Liebman, Ed Logue, Tony Pangaro, and Peter Eisenman (Photo: courtesy of Robert Perron Photography)
Roosevelt Island Construction Church
Roosevelt Island Under Construction (The Roosevelt Island Housing Competition, New York State Urban Development Corporation Booklet, 1974)

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Week of November 15th