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Oriental Masonic Gardens, New Haven, CT, 1968-1971


"Built by the Prince Hall Masons with a HUD mortgage for 3.5 million dollars, Oriental Masonic Gardens consists of 148 units on 12.5 acres. Residences are grouped in fours around a utility core. In every home, a lower module contains living spaces. A second module above it houses two or three bedrooms. And a third module may be added, parallel to the lowest one, for additional bedrooms. This stacking organization creates a sheltered outdoor space for each unit. The units are factory assembled with plumbing, wiring and finishes, then trucked to the site. Each module, 12 feet wide by 27, 39 or 51 feet long, cost $17.16 per square foot. Masonic Gardens units sold for between $21,000 and $23,000, close to the cost of a site built house, due to setbacks a series of setbacks. Subjected to local building codes, these modular units could not be produced with the cost efficiency of mobile homes. At the time of the project, building mobile homes was more lucrative so few companies were interested in taking on the risk of modular housing. Costly problems were also encountered when the homes were inspected on site, after being produced and transported to New Haven." http://www.gsd.harvard.edu/studios/s97/burns/p_rudolph.html This project was demolished in 1981. "In New Haven, in the 60s, I designed some housing using trailers. I had the acquiescence of Mayor Lee, a remarkable mayor indeed. The whole notion of making a project for about 150 people using trailers was difficult to persuade anybody to do. I suppose it was a mistake; it was eventually demolished. People hated it. First of all it leaked, which is a very good reason to hate something, but I think it was much more complicated than that. Psychologically, the good folk who inhabited these dwellings thought that they were beneath them. In other words, the deviation of the dwelling was not something to their liking. I thought, and I suppose the mayor thought, that trailers were perfectly good enough for them. But I should say, in defense of what we built, that it was a pocket court plan and that it provided a separate outside space for each family. There were two stories, with a core at the center. I am very tenacious about certain things, and in the long run it seems to me that with the correcting of mistakes one can make something much more successful.” Rudolph's remarks on the Oriental Masonic Gardens included in the posthumous article “Rethinking Designs in the 60s,” Perspecta, 1998. Flickr



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