Up top is a photo of a prototype house in Seattle, a modular design built from shipping containers. Dubbed "cargotecture" by Hybrid Seattle, the architecture firm behind the design, the prototype took just three weeks to build and represents a housing philosophy very different from standard American practices:
"We found that...renters who want to live in the city were willing to trade off larger space for smaller, more efficient units that are well designed and feature higher-end finishes," said Jonas Sylvester, Senior Vice President of Investments and Development at Unico [Properties, backers of the project].
Interestingly enough, the fact that the modular houses will be built off-site have real potential to take off specifically in Seattle; it's easier to build a house in a factory than in the driving rain the city is known for.
The second photo above is of Greenhills, Ohio, which has been called "one of the country's first green towns" (though not one of the Americas' first green towns, as the Native Americans can certainly argue).
This 1938 village, along with Greenbelt, Md., and Greendale, Wis., was created to move struggling families out of nearby cities and into a healthier, more verdant environment, with shopping, recreation and nearly 200 small modernist apartment buildings and houses surrounded by a forest.
...Preservationists cite the clever detailing in these and other public projects as a hallmark of the era.
"With small budgets, the architects did interesting things: they varied the pattern of the bricks, angled them, put them together to look like a fluted column - there's a lot of ingenuity in New Deal architecture," said Robert Leighninger, a sociologist and author of "Long Range Public Investment: The Forgotten Legacy of the New Deal."
Alas, the villages have fallen into disrepair, and are gradually being torn down, which many lament.
"They are redolent of a moment when there was more emphasis on making an integrated community - not just building houses, but auditoriums, community centers and schools," said the architect Hugh Hardy, who restored Radio City Music Hall in New York City. "It's a better use of energy, in a time of fiscal restraint, to see what we can reuse, remake and renew," he added. "It's monstrous to say you have to tear them down."