Tag Archives: brutalism

Tracey Towers

Tracey Towers* are the Bronx’s tallest buildings, at 38 and 41 stories. The concrete-block buildings are composed of tubes extended from squarish cores. Each brown-grey story is punctuated by a white concrete floor slab, so the effect is like 400-foot piles of neatly stacked asterisks. The Paul Rudolph-designed apartments were erected as a Mitchell Lama development in 1972.

Though appealing from a distance, the mass of ribbed concrete blocks [photo] seems oppressively somber close up. The term for this architectural style, brutalism, is derived from the French term for raw concrete, béton brut. You’re forgiven if you thought it was derived from brutal.

Oddly enough, the tubes’ interiors are all squared off and window free – unlike the glassed-in tubes of Manhattan’s Corinthian condominiums.

Love them or hate them, Tracey Towers’ design is a huge leap from the typical plain red-brick boxes associated with public or subsidized housing.

In recent years, Tracey Towers has been in the news twice: In 2005, a Chinese Restaurant deliveryman got trapped in an elevator for three days [The New York Times: Three Days Stuck in an Elevator]. In 2012, residents were hit with a 61.5% rent increase [New York Daily News: Record Rent Hike].

* Not to be confused with Tracy Towers on E 24th Street in Manhattan.

Tracey Towers Vital Statistics
Tracey Towers Suggested Reading

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