Low Cost Housing for Urban Renewal: Architectural Research Report, Part 1

by Lynne Rostochil.  Brochure from Lynne’s collection.


Not too long ago, I found a really fascinating booklet called Low Cost Housing for Urban Renewal.  It was put together by the OU School of Architecture research staff, which included these guys:


From the names on this list, I’m guessing that this booklet was created in 1964 or 1965.  Sponsored by the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority, the report “consists of studies to determine the feasibility of moderate income housing within the University Medical Center Urban Renewal Area.”    This is a pretty thick booklet, so I’ve selected some excerpts for you to enjoy.

The Urban Renewal Plan:


According to the booklet, the architects “were concerned with the problems of the ever mounting construction costs in all types of building, and the necessity of arriving at the desired low cost rent.”  As part of their research, the group studied different materials that could be used to reduce construction costs, and they also constructed a small test building to illustrate how materials and efficient building methods could control costs.

Scheme A:

Scheme A was designed in accord with the FHA’s “Minimum Property Standards for multi-family dwelling units” and intends to “give maximum variety and interest to the buildings … to avoid the anonymous character generally associated with housing developments of the same size.  Emphasis is placed on the importance of the individual and to give him in these apartments, a proper environment in which to live and raise his children, with beauty and economical living and full use of space.”

The architects designed “a flexible grouping of three types of living units ….  Each entranceway serves a maximum of nine families in the few instances of the three story units, but the vast majority will serve only six families, and yet the amount of space given to circulation is minimal….  Through the provisions of the pleasant garden type entrance there is an atmosphere that suggests a garden apartment but takes full advantage of the economies of the urban row house.”









Scheme B:

“All of the living units are to be placed so that they are parallel to the parking lots and facing the surrounding exterior streets.  The admirable aim of this plan is to grant greater freedom for the courts and play areas as framed by the buildings.  This will create an architectural regularity and unity from the street side by placing the buildings in a symmetrical arrangement.”  With the buildings constructed on the periphery, the inner courtyard and play spaces could be easily protected and controlled.  The buildings themselves mostly would be three stories and constructed of budget-friendly pre-cast concrete.








“It is not difficult to imagine that living in this environment would be both relaxing and friendly.”

Scheme C:

This plan “provides a good car/occupant ratio” and uses an “open exterior balcony for the access corridor to the apartment units.”  The buildings would be constructed with “controlled density concrete” and would “provide a maximum amount of living floor area.”









Next week, we will look at Scheme D and discuss some of the ways the group suggested to improve the area surrounding the proposed site of this multi-family housing.

Go here to see Part 2 of this post.