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Victor Gruen’s 350-unit apartment complex is a loose quadrangular arrangement of two-to-four-story flat-roof, grey-brick-clad apartments not much different from those that arose across the country during the mid-1960s; the designer was one of the great planners during the post-World War II era, with significant commissions in both Europe and this country. What further distinguishes it, moreover, is the original use, because this complex was first in the country to combine subsidized housing, for those displaced by this complex’s development, with market-rate apartments. This was one of the country’s first racially integrated apartment complexes, and the fact that this distinction was not openly discussed at the time is remarkable, in the mid-1960s, when racial issues were heightened to the boiling point. So a mixed-race apartment complex, on land between the increasingly evident neighborhood of choice and that of the historically disenfranchised, reinforces and reinvigorates Providence’s original and greatest contribution to this country’s cultural history, the celebration of cultural diversity.

– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture

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© 2024 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.