40 Places Under 40 Years Old: Housing
The votes are in! See which places you chose as your favorites from our list of 40 of the most important, most interesting, and quirkiest American places 40 years old or less.View Favorites
Welcome to 40 Under 40 Places—40 of the most important, most interesting, and quirkiest American places less than 40 years old, compiled by the staff of Preservation magazine. The by-no-means comprehensive list includes sites both well-known and obscure, high-end and low-budget, and urban and rural. Places typically aren’t considered historic until they’ve been around for at least 50 years, so why highlight younger sites now? Because by looking at them through a preservation lens and identifying places worthy of saving BEFORE they become truly historic, we can be proactive about their futures.
Each place on our list was built in 1978 or later, and each makes an important contribution in one of six categories: Arts, Science and Tech, Culture, History, Landscape, and Housing. We’ll be rolling out our 40 Under 40 Places stories, category by category, through the end of 2018, and a public online voting period will take place from January 7-18, 2019. Top vote-getters will be featured in the Spring 2019 issue of Preservation. Read on to see if any of your favorite places made our list—and please vote for your top choices in January!
Here are the seven places on our list from the Housing category.
Paisley Park—Chanhassen, Minnesota (pictured above)
In Chanhassen, Minnesota, you’ll find a sleek, white-walled complex that could pass as an unusual but recognizable example of 1980s architecture. But the walls belie the historical significance of Paisley Park, the 65,000-square-foot home and recording space for the musician Prince, who once described it as “pretty much representative of everything I am musically.”
Six months after Prince's death at Paisley Park in April of 2016, the site opened to the public. As a place that is relatively new and that honors someone whose memory is still recent, figuring out exactly what Paisley Park is has been a challenge. But, according to Mitch Maguire, tour operations manager there, you don’t have to choose between labeling it as museum, a historic site, or a memorial. “It’s both a historic site and a museum that serves as a memorial to Prince’s lasting legacy.”
Paisley Park continues to host recording projects and live performances, and visitors can see close up what made Prince tick, including Paisley Park Soundstage, where he rehearsed for concerts, as well as recording studios, editing suites, and other creative spaces that inspired the legendary singer.
Fun Fact: Visitors to Paisley Park can see some of Prince's most memorable wardrobe pieces worn during performances including the Purple Rain Tour and his 2007 Super Bowl halftime show.
Rural Studio—Newbern, Alabama
In 1993, D.K. Ruth and Samuel Mockbee created the Rural Studio at Auburn University in Newbern, Alabama. They wanted to offer architecture students a different way to learn their craft. 25 years later, the studio has taught over 1,000 students who in turn have designed and built more than 200 projects.
Open to third- and fifth-year architecture students, the class teaches them how to design and build affordable houses or community projects from their inception to the cutting of the ribbon. Third-years live at Rural Studio headquarters, and fifth-year students typically stay in nearby apartments. “It’s an opportunity to study abroad two and a half hours away [from Auburn's main campus] in the rural community of Newbern, home to 186 people,” says Natalie Butts-Ball, communications and 20K Home Project manager with Rural Studio.
“Many assume we build just houses,” she says. “But folks will call us and say, ‘We want to build a library in our community. Can you help us?’” Other projects students have worked on include a pavilion at the site of a Native American mound in Moundville, Alabama, a community park in Greensboro, Alabama, and houses for low-income residents who live in or near Newbern. All of the projects prioritize sustainability, and many include unusual materials like bricks made by the students from clay and recycled newspaper.
Fun Fact: In 2004, faculty challenged the students to build a house for under $20,000. Called the 20K Home Project, the challenge has since yielded almost 30 different designs. The studio is planning on releasing a few of its designs to the public so people have access to affordable, efficient, and durable homes.
We know the adage from architect Carl Elefante that “the greenest building is the one that is already built.” But when that's not possible, what do you do? Architect Michelle Kaufmann's answer was to design and build the Glidehouse for herself and her husband in 2004. The home combines sustainability with healthy living (both the physical and the mental), helping create a market for architect-designed prefab houses.
Situated on a sunny hillside in Novato, California, the Glidehouse is a one-story, 1,560-square-foot prefabricated modular residence that looks right at home with the surrounding shrubs and trees. The house is clad almost entirely in sustainably harvested wooden slats that give it a sleek and earthy look. Solar panels cover the shed roofs, which means that the Glidehouse costs zero dollars in yearly electric bills. Decks on multiple sides help occupants enjoy that California sun year-round. And if the interior gets a little too sunny, the wooden slats glide across the glass walls to offer shade, while still allowing natural light to peek through.
“[The Glidehouse] was simply an effort to collaborate with nature,” says Michelle Kaufmann in a video for the National Building Museum, which hosted a full-size replica of the Glidehouse in 2006 and 2007. “It’s a tool to help us live more lightly on the land and to live healthier and more comfortable lives.” Kaufmann continues to design prefab houses and buildings through her firm, Michelle Kaufmann Studio.
Fun Fact: Michelle Kaufmann Studio's modular houses are all built in a factory and are between 90 and 95 percent complete by the time they are shipped to the site where the modules will be assembled.
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Musicians’ Village—New Orleans
When we think of the devastation brought to New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, we think of images of flooded blocks, with rooftops barely visible above the water. But the hurricane threatened to disrupt one part of New Orleans that made the city what it is, something people couldn't physically see: its music.
To help, New Orleans musicians Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis paired up with the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity to build a residential neighborhood in the Upper Ninth Ward called Musicians’ Village. It would create homes for performers across the musical spectrum who had lost theirs in the flooding or other issues related to Katrina, so that they could continue to make music and remain the figurative backbone of the city.
“Besides food, the other thing that is the heart of New Orleans is music. It’s what makes us who we are. We couldn’t lose our musicians,” says Jim Pate, executive director with New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity.
The musicians worked hand-in-hand with Habitat volunteers to build the 72 single-family homes and five duplexes they would later move into—“sweat equity,” as Habitat calls it. “We had 800 people crawling all over for about three years,” says Pate.
All of the houses were completed by 2010. The neighborhood is also home to the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, which is run by a separate nonprofit. It allows musicians to practice and record, and it sometimes hosts evening concerts and private parties in the performance hall. It also has an after-school program to introduce children to the importance of music.
Fun Fact: Because each partner family made no down payment, they were each asked to put in 350 hours of work. That included labor as well as performances for the volunteers, most of whom didn't live in New Orleans and weren't as familiar with the city's one-of-a-kind music scene.
It’s hard to imagine Miami as a sleepy place, lacking in color, creativity, and character. But in the 1970s, Miami was on its way to becoming just that, a forgettable city at the southern tip of Florida. In the early 1980s, Arquitectonica, a local architecture firm, and two developers from Canada sought a way to change that perspective, and in 1982, Atlantis Condominium finished construction—a new emblem of the new Miami.
The building, now as integral to the Miami skyline as "Miami Vice" is to its popular culture, represented a sea change in the perspective of the coastal city. Thanks to a new influx of immigrants from Latin America and Cuba, the area began evolving, and it soon became known as an international financial center. “Miami was changing very rapidly. There was a progressive layer at the time and some felt there couldn't be another of these regular office buildings," says Bernardo Fort-Brescia, principal at Arquitectonica. "People were commuting from the suburbs, back and forth. The evenings and weekends were dead. Finally, the downtown was rezoned to be residential to promote a more diverse city with different uses.”
The 22-story building, with its mirror-like shell, punctured with an eye-catching red square that hosts a red spiral staircase, Jacuzzi, and palm tree, was making a splash even before its completion. “It was a bold decision,” says Fort-Brescia, referring to the unconventional style of Atlantis. "The era was all white, gray, or beige, but we wanted to convey a message of tropicality. The city was trying to find itself, and [Atlantis] symbolized this change.”
Fun Fact: Arquitectonica was inspired by traditional city grids. For Atlantis, the firm decided to turn that horizontal town vertical. The open square in the center of the building symbolizes traditional town squares, and the city grid is emphasized on Atlantis' exterior. You can see this design in the opening credits of "Miami Vice."
Tall, functional buildings often look utilitarian in appearance, but Aqua Tower in Chicago proves that modern-day skyscrapers can have aesthetic appeal without sacrificing function. The design of Aqua promotes community, especially the prominent wave-like balconies that were meticulously engineered to offer neighbors a chance to communicate either above or below. The white concrete balconies also draw inspiration from local natural landmarks, reminding residents, guests (the first 18 floors are home to a hotel), and office workers of nearby Lake Michigan and the limestone rock formations of the Midwest. Every balcony provides views of at least one of six notable sites, including Navy Pier, Cloud Gate in Millennium Park, and the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park.
Aqua, designed by Jeanne Gang of Gang Studios and Loewenberg & Associates (architect of record), and developed by Magellan Development Group, steered away from traditional skyscrapers in ways beyond aesthetics. The building has sustainable features, including a rainwater collection system, heat-resistant glass, energy-efficient lighting, and green roof, which is one of Chicago's largest.
Fun Fact: The 876-foot-tall skyscraper is the tallest building in the United States designed by a woman-owned firm.
Via Verde—New York City
Almost a decade ago, the city of New York held a design competition for a former freight yard on a triangular lot in the South Bronx. The goal was to develop affordable, sustainable, and replicable housing. The winning bid—designed and developed by Dattner Architects, Grimshaw Architects, the Phipps Houses Group, and Jonathan Rose Companies—was the aptly named Via Verde: “The Green Way,” a mixed-use, mixed-income community.
“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,” says Bill Stein, principal architect for the project with Dattner Architects. Subsequent projects have recognized the importance of green spaces and roofs, solar panels, and recreational spaces for those in low-income communities.
The building moves upward like vines on a trellis, starting with retail spaces, a courtyard, and a community health center on the ground floor. Interconnected stepped green roofs that hold an apple orchard, evergreen trees, and vegetable gardens culminate in a 20-story tower on the north side. Residents have plenty of southern exposure that helps power solar panels.
Via Verde, which opened in 2012, has 222 affordable units, and the waitlist to get in is competitive. It continues to be a vibrant example of how to address the need for healthy and affordable urban living. “[Via Verde] is symbolic in that government agencies, developers, architects, and designers think about affordable housing not as being utilitarian, but aspirational and holistic,” says Stein.
Fun Fact: The 5,000-square-foot rooftop community garden features rainwater harvesting and drought tolerant vegetation.
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