Raymond Hillard Homes

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Initiated: 1964

Completed: 1966

Location: Chicago, IL

Type: Multi-family residence

The Raymond Hillard Center, a Chicago Housing Authority complex located on the near south side of Chicago, contains two 16-story round towers for elderly housing and two 18-story curved towers for low-income family housing. Supporting 756 dwelling units, the complex includes lawns, playgrounds, and an open air theater.

Unlike Marina City, which was largely supported by its core, Hillard Homes was supported by its exterior structure, what Goldberg called a "shell structure." As Goldberg described it, "an eggshell is more efficient than a tree." In the core he placed the usual mechanical systems and also a community space, because he felt that this was important for the elderly and also hoped that by designing a complex for both the young and old that the elderly could bring their wisdom experience to the younger groups and the elderly would also benefit from their interaction with the young.

Meant as a new solution to public housing woes, Raymond Hillard was built to be a structure which residents would be proud to live in. Goldberg felt that much public-housing was designed in such a way to make the poor feel that they were punished for being poor and did little other than warehouse them. As stated by Goldberg in a 1965 promotional piece, "their architecture must meet them and recognize them, not simply store them." Residents were chosen from records of model citizenry in other housing projects, and for many years this was the only public housing complex which needed no constant police supervision. The unusual tower shapes maximized the space allowed by Public Housing Authority standards while creating a sense of community and openness.

Despite being younger than fifty years old, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997, recognized for its exceptional design. The building is now being renovated as mixed income housing.

QUOTE: "I thought of them as people, and the word ‘poor' was not the operative word. I didn't design for the poor, I designed for people. The fact that poor required simplicity was without question, but the fact that they were people was paramount."
- Oral History

QUOTE: "The revolutionary design theories that Goldberg developed for Marina City were applied here to the problem of public housing, creating what is still regarded as one of the city's best examples of humane high-rise living for low-income families."
- AIA Guide to Chicago