James Wines, a founding member in 1970 of the SITE (Sculpture In The Environment) architectural group, described the Highrise of Homes project as a “vertical community” to “accommodate people’s conflicting desires to enjoy the cultural advantages of an urban center, without sacrificing the private home identity and garden space associated with suburbia.” The plan calls for a steel-and-concrete, eight-to-ten-story, U-shaped building frame erected in a densely populated urban area. The developer would sell lots within this frame, each lot the site for a house and garden in a style chosen by the purchaser. The result would be a distinct villagelike community on each floor, with interior streets. A central mechanical core would serve these homes and gardens, while shops, offices, and other facilities on the ground and middle floors would provide for the residents’ needs.
Whereas urban skyscrapers are normally made up of identical, stacked, boxlike units, the Highrise of Homes would allow flexibility and individual choice. The wide variety of house styles, gardens, hedges, and fences described in this intricate rendering provides a sense of the personal identity and human connection that are generally erased by the austere and repetitive elements of architectural formalism. Placing the sociological and psychological needs of the inhabitant over the aesthetic sensibilities of the architect, Wines produces a merge of suburb and city, a collage of architectures collectively created by its inhabitants and by the art of chance. Developers considered Battery Park City, New York, as a possible location for the project, but it was never built.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Bevin Cline, in Matilda McQuaid, ed., Envisioning Architecture: Drawings from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 220.