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November 27, 2005

Le Corbusier's Ignoble Villa

Famed Swiss architect Le Corbusier still is creating controversy 40 years after his death. Few dispute his importance and contributions for the birth of Modernism also known as the International Style. But critics scorn his efforts when it came to sub-urban planning. Le Corbusier's intention with Immeubles Villas was to create a city for 3 million people that eliminated the squalid sections of the city where the poor inhabited. Highrise apartments would give everyone access to sunlight.

But critics then, and even now, warned that such monstrosities would merely create silos of poor -- segregating them upward. Christopher Caldwell writes about the recent rioting in France's suburbs in The New York Times Magazine "Revolting High Rises." It hardly seems fair to blame a man whose goals were so noble for the unrest caused by hidden class systems and chronic unemployment. Hopelessness, be it laid out vertically or horizontally, is deleterious to any society.

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