The Housing System: A reading list

Resources for understanding the pressing issues at the intersection of design, policy, and politics in housing.


There’s no shortage of thought-provoking research and writing on today’s pressing housing issues. Below is a reading list with some of the most interesting work that influenced us as we planned The Housing System program series.

We also learned a lot from the experts who untangled complicated topics in New York City housing policy and development in our 2017-18 series, Housing Brass Tacks. Digests of those 15 sessions can be found at

Download a PDF of the reading list here.

Maintenance & operations

80×50 Buildings Partnership. Blueprint for Efficiency. Urban Green Council, Aug. 2018.

Allbee, Allison, Rebecca Johnson, and Jeffrey Lubell. Preserving, Protecting, and Expanding Affordable Housing: A Policy Toolkit for Public Health. ChangeLab Solutions, 2015.

Bloom, Nicholas Dagen. “Maintaining NYCHA: Debunking the Myth of Unmanageable High-Rise Public Housing.” Urban Omnibus, 22 April 2015. Excerpt from: Bloom, Nicholas Dagen, Fritz Umbach, and Lawrence J. Vale (eds.). Public Housing Myths: Perception, Reality, and Social Policy. Cornell University Press, 2015. Print.

Ellen, Ingrid Gould, Vicki Been, Ben Gross, and Andrew Hayashi. “Maintenance and Investments in Small Rental Properties: Findings from New York City and Baltimore.” NYU Furman Center, Working Paper, Nov. 2013.

Fairley, Peter. “Continuing Education: Post-Occupancy Evaluations.” Architectural Record, 16 Aug. 2015.

Mattern, Shannon. “Maintenance and Care.” Places Journal, Nov. 2018.

McEwen, V. Mitch. “Profound Modernity.” e-flux, 5 Oct. 2017.

New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. New York City’s Roadmap to 80 x 50. The City of New York, Sept. 2016.

Russell, Andrew and Lee Vinsel. “Hail the maintainers.” Aeon, 7 April 2016.

Sample, Hilary. Maintenance Architecture. MIT Press, 2016. Print.

Wood, Hannah. “Recycled Buildings: How to Design for Disassembly.” Archinect, 6 June 2018.

Living small

The Macro View on Micro Units. Urban Land Institute, 2014.

Aureli, Pier Vittorio and Martino Tattara. “Soft cell: the minimum dwelling.” The Architectural Review, 30 July 2018.

Citizens Housing & Planning Council. Making Room. Ongoing project.

Coe-Scharff, Jonah. “Conceptualizing the Minimum Dwelling, 1900-1950.” Cambridge University, 2016. Unpublished master’s thesis.

Sullivan, Brian J. and Jonathan Burke. “Single-Room Occupancy Housing in New York City: The Origins and Dimensions of a Crisis.” City University of New York Law Review, vol. 17, no. 1, Winter 2013, pp. 113-143.

Urist, Jacoba. “The Health Risks of Small Apartments.” The Atlantic, 19 Dec. 2013.

Yager, Jessica and Eric Stern. “21st Century SROs: Can Small Housing Units Help Meet the Need for Affordable Housing in New York City?” NYU Furman Center, Policy Brief, Jan. 2018.

Living together

Aureli, Pier Vittorio and Martino Tattara. “Production/Reproduction: Housing beyond the Family.” Harvard Design Magazine, No. 41, Fall/Winter 2015.

Ha, Yen. “A Shared Life.” Urban Omnibus, 10 Sept. 2014.

Hayden, Dolores. The Grand Domestic Revolution: A History of Feminist Designs for American Homes, Neighborhoods, and Cities. MIT Press, 1982. Print.

Hayden, Dolores. Redesigning the American Dream: The Future of Housing, Work, and Family Life. W.W. Norton & Company, 2002. Print.

Maak, Niklas. Living Complex: From Zombie City to the New Communal. Hirmer Publishers, 2015. Print.

Medina, Samuel. “This Spanish Architect Wants to Revolutionize the Home—by Getting Rid of Kitchens.” Metropolis Magazine, 19 March 2018.

Okamoto, Katie. “How to Design for Seniors in Increasingly Unaffordable Cities.” Metropolis Magazine, 22 Oct. 2018.

Penner, Barbara. “The Flexible Heart of the Home.” Places Journal, May 2018.

SPACE10. “Welcome to One Shared House 2030: This is how you designed it.” Medium, 21 Feb. 2018.


Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development. The Anti-Displacement Policy Toolkit. Ongoing project.

Axel-Lute, Miriam. “YIMBYs: Friend, Foe, or Chaos Agent?” Shelterforce, 19 Feb. 2019.

Baiocchi, Gianpaolo, Marnie Brady, H. Jacob Carlson, Anamika Jain, and Tony Romano. Communities Over Commodities: People-Driven Alternatives to an Unjust Housing System. Right to the City Alliance, March 2018.

Been, Vicki. “City NIMBYs.” Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law, vol. 33, no. 2, Spring 2018, pp. 217-250.

Cuff, Dana. “The Architect’s Lot: Backyard Homes Policy and Design,” in Karen Kubey (ed.) Housing as Intervention: Architecture Towards Social Equity, AD, Vol. 88, 2018. Print.

Cuff, Dana and Per-Johan Dahl. “Rx for the R1: Sustaining the Neighborhood,” in Joshua Bolchover and Jonathan D. Solomon (eds.) 306090 13, Sustain and Develop, pp. 25-33, 2012. Accessed via cityLAB UCLA.

Jacobus, Rick. “Why Voters Haven’t Been Buying the Case for Building.” Shelterforce, 19 Feb. 2019.

Leitch, Kate and Sarah Watson. Hidden Housing: The Case for a Conversion Program for Basement Apartments in NYC. Citizens Housing & Planning Council, 2016.

Neighbors For More Neighbors. “How can Minneapolis improve its housing policy?” Medium, 1 Aug. 2017.

Schleicher, David. “City Unplanning.” Yale Law Journal, vol. 122, no. 7, May 2013, pp. 1670–2105.

Shlomo, Angel and Patrick Lamson-Hall. “The Rise and Fall of Manhattan’s Densities, 1800-2010.” NYU Marron Institute, Working Paper, Nov. 2014.

Technology & materials

“Multitasking Infrastructures: A Conversation with Sheila Kennedy and Veit Kugel.” Urban Omnibus, 6 March 2013.

Bernheimer, Andrew (ed.). Timber in the City: Design and Construction in Mass Timber. ORO Editions, 2015. Print.

Bernstein, Fred A. “Technologically Savvy Firms Expand the Definition of Practice.” Architectural Record, 1 June 2018.

Bernstein, Phil. “Why the Field of Architecture Needs a New Business Model.” Architectural Record, 1 June 2018.

Dougherty, Conor. “Piece by Piece, a Factory-Made Answer for a Housing Squeeze.” New York Times, 7 June 2018.

Galante, Carol, Sara Draper-Zivetz, and Allie Stein. Building Affordability by Building Affordably: Exploring the Benefits, Barriers, and Breakthroughs Needed to Scale Off-Site Multifamily Construction. The Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley, March 2017.

Gray Organschi Architecture, Timber City. Ongoing project.

Hurley, Amanda Kolson. “Can Silicon Valley Disrupt How We Build?” CityLab, 25 June 2018.

Jakabovics, Andrew, Lynn Ross, Molly Simpson, and Michael Spotts. Bending the Cost Curve: Solutions to Expand the Supply of Affordable Rentals. Urban Land Institute and Enterprise Community Partners, 2014.

Systems change

Berwick, Donald M. Escape Fire: Lessons for the Future of Health Care. The Commonwealth Fund, 2002.

Hartman, Chester. “The Case for a Right to Housing.” Housing Policy Debate, vol. 9, no. 2, 1998, pp. 223–246.

McGuigan, Cathleen and Suzanne Stephens. “Interview with Rosanne Haggerty.” Architectural Record, 1 Oct. 2018.

Haggerty, Rosanne. “Housing Is a Verb: Why Communities Need Housing Systems, Not Just Housing.” Columbia GSAPP. 2 Oct. 2017, New York.

United Nations Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing. Ongoing project.


Interview: SITU Studio

The Brooklyn firm combines design, fabrication, and research to explore a broad range of spatial issues.

Emerging Voices Interview Video 2014