Elegance does not derive from abundance, the German architect Ludwig Mies once said. In our time of coming financial austerity, could this pre-WWII phrase make a comeback? Architectural critic and historian Jayne Merkel writes that housing was especially subject to this maxim during the Great Depression and that perhaps now is a good time to learn the lessons of the past. "The popularity of simpler living made it possible for one American developer, William Levitt, to realize the prewar dream of the European modern architects to use industrialization for housing," Merkel says.