News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, February 4, 2013

Flashback Monday: Reston's Trailer Park Past That Almost Was

Trailer trash.jpgThis fancy report showcased one of the Big Ideas that percolated in the idealistic New Town era of the 1960s: Building affordable housing for low-income families by stacking mobile homes on top of each other. What could possibly go wrong?

In the late 1960s, the Department of Housing and Urban Development funded a research program in cooperation with Gulf Reston and a mobile home manufacturer to see whether such awesome blocky storage facilities for the poors modular housing would be feasible. As with All Things Reston, the genesis of the idea was well-intentioned:


What of the poor.jpg

"But what of the poor? Are there not modular, light-gauge steel-frame modules?"

Here's what this moderate-income nirvana would have looked like:

While "three prototype modules" were constructed, apparently things never got much further than that. So a few of the early Reston clusters just happen to look that way, the end.


  1. Well, it looks like the idea is baaack!

    The Veatch proposal for new apartments near Wiehle station looks just like this--only worse.

  2. "But what of the poor? Are there not modular, light-gauge steel-frame modules?"

    Yes, it's called the Adult Detention Center. "Hey, buddy, are you on the upper or lower tier in your cell block?"

  3. From above: "Housing priced below $22,000 is not available."

    Nearly 50 years later and I still can't find that housing in Reston.

  4. You'll laugh, but people living in hoity toity places like Arlington and Bethesda actually take advantage of the modern version of these prefab units when they expand their 1950s Colonials. They're built offsite, stacked onto each other with cranes, yet they look shockingly upmarket, really.

  5. They actually built these things as on-campus housing at the University of Maryland. They were supposed to be, um, temporary - but I lived in them about 35 years after they were built.

  6. Are you sure those are not Shadowood units? They really were built that way!


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