Wednesday, August 8, 2007


My first visit to a Citirama show last weekend. I think they have these every year?
This is a takeoff on those Homeramas they have out in the suburbs, where you can ooh-and-ahh at pretty awful yet pretty big spec housing, and the fabulous interior decorating inside. At least that was what the Homeramas were like in in Louisville. I haven't been to one in Dayton yet but I figure they are similar.

Anyway, this Citirama was in the old University of Dayton (UD) "student ghetto", an old blue collar neighborhood off of Brown Street, between the UD campus and Irving Street. What's happened here is that UD had acquired probably nearly all of the housing in the neighborhood, and is using it student housing. What usually happens in these cases is the houses are acquired before they are torn down for campus expansion, but are rented out to students in the interim, which form funky little communities of young folks. A famous example of this was Perry Lane next to Stanford, immortalized in Tom Wolfe's "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" as the home of Ken Kesey and his circle.

Here in Dayton something different happened. UD kept the houses, and, instead of tearing down the neighborhood for expansion or conventional dorms, is housing students this way as a matter of policy. This is pretty unusual for a US university. Since the neighborhood is now a keeper, UD is renovating the houses, and building new infill in some cases. Citirama had a block of new row houses on display, which was designed to break up the mass of the building so it would read as individual units. There was some remodeled older units on show, too. The interiors are pretty spartan, designed for hard use, which is to be expected with dormitory rooms. I noticed that the upperclassmen can live in a slightly larger unit, and there was definitely ADA compliance in the latrine layout.

But the real story here is that UD is committing to a form of
neighborhood conservation; instead of bulldozing everything for a big new impersonal "complex", they keep the old neighborhood, with all its positive features such as walkability, front porches, and human scale.

And there is the fabulous Art Street

...which is probably one of my favorite new buildings in Dayton right now (this is worth it's own post).

Take a quick online tour of Citirama (and more commentary from yer humble host) at the Urban Ohio Citirama pix thread

1 comment:

For The Love Of Dayton said...

Great pictures Jeffrey. Citirama and Dayton's Rehabarama are always two of my favorite Dayton events. You've reminded me not to miss it again. South Park is hosting Rehabaram this October, I can't wait. (

UD is an amazing asset for Dayton. Its commitment to the local community is visible and has garnered it a lot of accolades: (
It's a gem of the Gem City and can teach all of us a lot about what it means to grow authentic communities that function for the good of all of us.