The East Tremont section of the Bronx is the site of Twin Parks Northeast Housing; the area exhibits the classic symptoms of urban decay: vacant lots, boarded-up storefronts, traditional row housing now fallen into tenement use, and a landscape of broken glass, strewn garbage, and crumbling brick. In a 1967 study, the Urban Design Group of the New York City Planning Commission identified certain pockets of land that were not large enough for conventional development. On these sites, the Twin Parks Association, a non-profit, community-based company, was empowered by the city to sponsor moderate-income housing. The concept was to integrate the new buildings into the existing urban context in such a way as to revitalize that context and to provide a maximum of usable private and public space for the needs of both the residents and the community at large.
The site of Twin Parks Northeast occupies parts of three adjacent city blocks. The slabs are wedged in between the existing tenements on the blocks and scaled and oriented to fit with them, thereby reinforcing the existing street “walls”. The irregular street grid gives the buildings their two different axes of orientation, and provides a device for relating them across the blocks. Their dark brown color and masonry texture further relate them to the existing buildings, while their elevational treatment and massing give definition to the center and edge of the blocks, and differentiate between public and private spaces.
Twin Parks Northeast is intended not as an architecture of isolated and freestanding building in space, but rather as a place of urban continuity. It emphasizes the adaptive capability of the existing city grid to new structuring, and incorporates some of the quality and texture of traditional building within a humane, modern vocabulary. In both its form and its organization, it expresses the attitude that one of the principal roles of a building in an urban milieu is to make a larger urban statement, to be the generator of social and communal values.