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Urban Visions

A bold drawing of three skyscrapers in a line, receding into the distance. The skyscrapers stand on the same long rectangular city block. Each skyscraper has four equal faces and there are no setbacks aside from slight indentations at the tops. There is lots of open space around the base of the skyscrapers. The buildings do not touch and are not placed against the sidewalk or street.

Raymond Hood
Tower City, aerial perspective, 1926
Ink and gouache on paper
11½" × 8¾"
Raymond Hood Collection, The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania, by the gift of Mrs. Jacques André Fouilhoux

Throughout the 1920s, Hood experimented with alternative approaches to urbanism. His initial idea for a “Tower City” was a response to both Le Corbusier’s Plan Voisin, with its freestanding towers, and New York City’s setback zoning law of 1916. Hood’s arrangement would facilitate pedestrian and vehicular traffic, allow for more light and fresh air, create large green spaces, and produce better apartments.

Two years later, Hood proposed his vision for a “City Under a Single Roof”—embracing urban density and self-contained city quarters whose central buildings of unlimited height would allow traffic to flow underneath.

These designs were indebted to Hood’s proposal for downtown Providence of 1916 and would have an impact on his first sketches for Rockefeller Center two years later.