Interboro Awarded NYSCA Grant

09-01-2008

Interboro is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a NYSCA grant to develop “Norcs in NYC.” Interboro is very appreciative, and is looking forward to resuming its work on NORCs. NORC stands for Naturally Occurring Retirement Community. NORCS are “naturally occurring” because they sort of just happen, without too much planning. Co-op Village in NYC is a NORC because 4,060 of its residents are over 60, even though none of the buildings that make up Co-op Village were “purpose-built” as retirement communities. Interboro believes that it is important to study NORCs for multiple reasons: First, NORCs are a good example of how our cities and buildings are redesigned and repurposed on a large scale by the bottom-up actions of residents. Second, for a number of reasons, most of the NORCs in New York City are located in tower-in-the-park developments from the 1950s and 1960s. The “institutional” architecture of these housing blocks (with their elevators, communal green spaces and shared facilities) lends itself perfectly to the needs of a retirement community. This new “calling” adds an interesting postscript to the history of this much-maligned modernist housing typology. Third by inhabiting existing buildings and neighborhoods, NORCs completely transform the common standards for “purpose-built” retirement communities. Interboro believes NORCs yield interesting clues for the next generation of retirement communities, suggesting new locational, planning, and design models. Oddly, there has been very little critical attention paid to NORCs, especially by planners and architects. In response, in 2006 Interboro initiated a non-funded research project to investigate NORCs. This ongoing work-which will be strengthened thanks to this grant-includes assembling and reviewing the literature, conducting interviews with NORC residents and administrators, and documenting and mapping life in NORCs. Specifically, with the grant money, Interboro will package and broadcast this research via a pamphlet and exhibition. By producing the pamphlet and launching the exhibition, Interboro seeks to highlight the rich history and possible futures of the NORC movement to a diverse audience of NORC stakeholders, architects, planners, and policy-makers.

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