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An exhibit exploring the new face of affordable housing has come to Penn.

Organized by the National Building Museum in Washington and sponsored by the Fannie Mae Foundation, Affordable Housing: Designing an American Asset attempts to prove that "good design provides benefits at all stages of the development process."

According to Facilities and Real Estate Services spokesman Tony Sorrentino, this exhibition came into being because of members of the University community who are "very committed to design." Members of both Facilities and Real Estate Services and the School of Design who saw the exhibition in Washington were able to bring it to campus.

Inconspicuously tucked in the Facilities and Real Estate Services' Left Bank office, located at 31st and Walnut streets, the exhibition details the history of subsidized housing in the United States. The timeline highlights affordable housing developments from early industrial corporate communities to the notorious Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago.

However, the exhibit mainly focuses on current public housing projects that embrace good design.

Senior Director of the Fannie Mae Foundation Jim Ferris said that people panic when they hear that affordable housing is being built in their communities, overlooking the fact that such residences are often "the nicest-looking houses in the neighborhood."

The exhibition -- which highlights 18 award-winning public housing designs that have been built across the country -- attempts to break unfavorable misconceptions of public housing, according to Ferris.

The organizers of the exhibition hope the projects will "demonstrate that well-designed developments can offer new opportunities for the least wealthy Americans while creating real value as assets for their surrounding communities."

"We thought it would be great to expand the viewership and take the exhibit on the road and raise awareness of affordable housing and good design," Ferris said.

While noting that the office of Facilities and Real Estate Services may not be as high-profile as the Museum of Modern Art or the Institute of Contemporary Art, Sorrentino expects that students and professors interested in design will visit the exhibition during its three-month stay in Philadelphia.

The city is the first of eight to host the exhibit. Hartford, Conn., is next on the list.

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