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A Design Analysis– Existing HOPE VI Housing in New Brunswick, NJ

Completed by Emily Zeug-Robertson Under the supervision of Dr. David Listokin– Spring Semester 2013


With the demolition of many public housing high rises across the country, a strong emphasis has been placed on the design of the replacement units. Although the effects of the theory, policy, and implementation processes associated with HOPE VI have been evaluated, little assessment has been completed on the physical structures built through the program. This project takes a critical look at the design of two HOPE VI developments that replaced the high-rise public housing in New Brunswick, NJ. Following this analysis, recommendations for future design are made in the context of a public housing complex in Newark, NJ that is currently in the planning stages of redevelopment. Although these suggestions are proposed for this particular redevelopment, the concepts and ideas can be widely considered and applied.


U.S. Housing Act of 1937: Public Housing Program established

1954 Amended Housing Act of 1949: Authorized funds for rehabilitation and conservation of deteriorating areas

Housing Act of 1949: Authorized funds for slum clearance and urban redevelopment

Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965: Established the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Fair Housing Act

1962 Executive Order 11063: Equal Opportunity in Housing

1989: National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing established

1993: HOPE VI Program established


Goals Replace severely distressed public housing with townhouses or garden-style apartments that blend aesthetically into the surrounding community Reduce concentrations of poverty Increase access to support services, such as education and training, childcare, transportation, and counseling to help residents maintain jobs Increase personal and community responsibility and standards to reduce crime

Evaluation Criteria

Four Criteria for Evaluation Integration– the extent to which the new buildings fit into the existing urban fabric Natural Light– the physical orientation of the development and individual buildings aiding in access to sunlight throughout the day Hierarchy of Privacy– the gradient at which physical spaces transition from private to public Access– the quality of vehicular and pedestrian access within the development and the number and location of the primary building entrances

Hope Manor New Brunswick, NJ

Hope Manor was completed in 2001 and is comprised of 68 mixed-income, affordable units. This site also contains over 9,000 square feet of retail space. Hope Manor was the first phase of New Brunswick’s HOPE VI Revitalization program.

Hope Manor

Integration: Hope Manor in the context of surrounding buildings

Hope Manor

Hierarchy of Privacy: Small porches on the front of the units at Hope Manor help to designate a semiprivate space, creating a smoother transition between the private space of the home and the public space of the sidewalk and the street.

Private Semi-Private Semi-Public Public

Hope Manor Natural Lighting: massing models

Position of shadows on Hope Manor: March 21st at 9:00am

Position of shadows on Hope Manor: March 21st at 1:00pm

Buildings of Hope Manor Primary Residential Entrances Pedestrian Site Access Vehicular Site Access Access: Hope Manor includes separate entrances for each unit. Some units include a secondary entrance to accommodate an increased proximity to parking, which is located on or just off the street throughout the development.

Position of shadows on Hope Manor: March 21st at 5:00pm

Riverside Complex New Brunswick, NJ

Riverside Complex is located on the former site of New Brunswick Homes, the four towers that were demolished with funding from HOPE VI. This was the second phase of New Brunswick’s HOPE VI Revitalization program and was completed in 2005. Riverside Complex consists of 76 units of mixed-income, affordable housing units.

Riverside Complex

Integration: Riverside Complex in the context of surrounding buildings

Riverside Complex

Private Semi-Private Semi-Public Public Hierarchy of Privacy: The porches on the units of Riverside Complex are approximately the same depth as those at Hope Manor. These porches have just a large enough width to open and close the door, leaving these semi-private area less functional.

Riverside Complex Natural Lighting: massing models

Position of shadows on Riverside Complex: March 21st at 9:00am

Position of shadows on Riverside Complex: March 21st at 1:00pm

Buildings of Hope Manor Primary Residential Entrances Pedestrian Site Access Vehicular Site Access Access: Riverside Complex has separate entrances for each unit. The proximity of the entrances to the street and individual parking spaces helps to decrease safety issues associated with long walks from a larger parking lot.

Position of shadows on Riverside Complex: March 21st at 5:00pm

Seth Boyden Terrace Newark, NJ


Image from Newark Patch’s The Neighborhood Files


Currently vacant and boarded, the 12 buildings and 530 units of Seth Boyden Terrace on the south side of Newark, NJ was known for its crime and violence. Seth Boyden Terrace was built in 1939 and the Newark Housing Authority, in collaboration with former residents, is now in the preliminary stages of redevelopment planning. The following are design recommendations based on the analysis of Hope Manor and Riverside Complex in New Brunswick.


Designing buildings that do not stand out from the surrounding built structures will improve integration with the urban fabric. Buildings that include variation in shape, size, and orientation will decrease the anonymity of the development and including mixed-use structures will not only better serve the future residents, but will help to smooth the transition between land uses.

Integration: Proposed building layout concept for Seth Boyden Terrace Redevelopment

Integration: Existing building layout of Seth Boyden Terrace


Private Semi-Private Semi-Public Public Hierarchy of Privacy: Existing privacy gradient at Seth Boyden Terrace


Adding semi-private and semi-public spaces to the privacy gradient is likely to increase the number of ‘eyes on the street’. Although Hope Manor and Riverside Complex achieve this gradient, a more even distribution of spaces could increase the amount of habitable space and safety.

Private Semi-Private Semi-Public Public Hierarchy of Privacy: Proposed privacy gradient for Seth Boyden Terrace redevelopment

Access: Current Entrances on one building of Seth Boyden Terrace

Like the entrances of Hope Manor and Riverside Complex, a private entrance to each unit is most ideal. By creating a physical buffer between the entrances, particularly if they are close together, will create a greater sense of separation and ownership. This allows residents the opportunity to interact but does not require their socialization.

Access: Proposed barrier between two private entrances

Position of shadows on proposed orientation: March 21st at 9:00am

Position of shadows on proposed orientation: March 21st at 1:00pm

Low rise buildings with enough distance between them will provide a maximum amount of sunlight for all units. For the health of the residents, the orientation of the units should attempt to capture as much natural light as possible. Position of shadows on proposed orientation: March 21st at 5:00pm


HOPE VI has vastly improved the design and integration of public housing in New Brunswick. Although limited in scope, this analysis of the design indicates that there are many positive aspects about the actions taken by the New Brunswick Housing Authority in collaboration with the HOPE VI program. Moving forward, it is my recommendation that the quality design features of Hope Manor and Riverside Complex be carried forward and expanded upon in future public housing development.


Atlas, John, and Peter w. 1994. Public housing: What went wrong? National Housing Institute: Shelterforce Online (74). Chantry, Erin. 2012. Outdoor space and public housing: How do we design it? At the helm of the public realm: and urban design blog. (accessed February 11, 2013). Columbia University: Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture. 2009. Public housing: A new conversation. New York: The Trustees of Columbia University. Committee for Economic Development: Research and Policy Committee. 1973. Financing the nation’s housing needs: A statement on national policy. New York: Committee for Economic Development. Cooper Marcus, Clare, and Wendy Sarkissian. 1988. Housing as if people mattered: Site design guidelines for medium-density family housing. University of California Press. Fishman, Robert. 2004. Rethinking Public Housing [Research & Debate]. Places 16 (2): 26-33. Kost, Thomas. 2012. Notes and Comments: Hope after HOPE VI? Reaffirming racial integration as a primary goal in housing policy prescriptions. Northwestern University Law Review 106 (3): 1391-1406. Onque, Brock. 2007. The implications of public housing design: A study for HUD’s HOPE VI program. Dissertation. University of Pittsburgh: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. National Housing Agency: Federal Public Housing Authority. 1946. Public housing design: A review of experience in low-rent housing. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. New Brunswick Housing Authority. 2013. HOPE VI. O’Block, Robert, and Robert Kuehn, Jr. 1970. An economic analysis of the housing and urban development act of 1968. Boston: Published by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Plunz, Richard et al. 1980. Housing form and public policy in the United States. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers Division of Greenwood Press, Inc. Schwartz, Alex. 2010. Housing policy in the United States: An introduction. Edition 2. Taylor & Francis Group. Sigrist, Peter. 2012. Housing design from the outside. [Polis] a collaborative blog about cities across the globe.http://www.thepolisblog. org/2012/06/elements.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+thepolisblog%2FpBWc+ %28polis%29 Solomon, Arthur. 1974. Housing the urban poor: A critical evaluation of federal housing policy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Wood, Elizabeth. 2012. Housing design: A social theory. Whitefish, Montana: Literary Licensing, LLC.

Directed Study–Final Project  

A Design Analysis– Existing HOPE VI Housingin New Brunswick, NJ

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