Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream is a 14-month initiative to examine new architectural possibilities for American cities and suburbs in the context of the recent foreclosure crisis in the United States. Organized by Barry Bergdoll, MoMA's Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture, with Reinhold Martin, Director of Columbia University's Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream will enlist five interdisciplinary teams of architects to envision a rethinking of housing and related infrastructures that could catalyze urban transformation, particularly in the country's suburbs. Drawing on ideas proposed in The Buell Hypothesis, a forthcoming research publication by Mr. Martin, and Leah Meisterlin and Anna Kenoff of the Temple Hoyne Buell Center, the teams will participate in a four-month workshop phase beginning in May, with each focused on a specific "megaregion," a metropolitan area that lies within a corridor between two major cities. The resulting proposals will be exhibited at MoMA from January 31, 2012 through July 31, 2012.
The Buell Hypothesis offers a new way of looking at the public housing problem, raising the argument that housing in the American suburbs is a matter of public concern as oppose to belief that a home in foreclosure is the problem of the individual owner. The hypothesis also reframes the question of single-family homes vs. public housing in context to the American Dream. The Buell Hypothesis ultimately calls for a discussion in the way we think about the American Dream, through examining public housing, existing infrastructures, and unused publicly owned undeveloped land, in attempt to redevelop the urban landscape.
"The foreclosure crisis has led to a major loss of confidence in the suburban dream of single- family houses on private lots reachable only by car," said Mr. Bergdoll. "New paradigms of architecture, and regional and transportation planning, could well be the silver lining in the crisis of home ownership. This has hit especially hard in suburbs. It is here, rather than in the next ring of potential sprawl, where architects, landscape designers, artists, ecologists, and elected officials need to rethink reshaping urban America for the coming decades."
"The assumptions underlying the suburban dream and its accompanying social and environmental crises have gone unchallenged for too long," said Mr. Martin. "It's time for a national conversation on these issues. Architecture and urbanism can help develop such a conversation by offering tangible examples to be debated in public. The Buell Hypothesis sets the stage for such a conversation by claiming that to change the dream is to change the city. To confront the cultural assumptions that underlay suburbanization is to begin the process of changing the way we live today."
For the workshop phase of Foreclosed, teams will be challenged to respond with a proposal that offers new and inventive ways of thinking about the relationship between land, housing, infrastructure, urban form, and that which is considered "public" about today's cities and suburbs. Projects will aim to challenge cultural assumptions concerning homeownership and associated settlement patterns, such as suburban sprawl, and assist the public in contemplating a potentially different future for housing and cities. The design teams will develop projects under the curatorial and critical guidance of the MoMA Architecture and Design Department and the Buell Center, and will have the opportunity to utilize studio space at MoMA PS1.
The workshop phase will launch on Saturday, May 7, with a public symposium at MoMA PS1 at which the team leaders will present their approaches and a round table will offer a debate between various models of thinking about replanning suburbia, including that represented by the Congress of New Urbanism, an organization promoting walkable, neighborhood-based development as an alternative to sprawl. Open Studios, an opportunity for the public to view the design work in progress, will take place on Saturday, June 18, and Saturday, September 17, at MoMA PS1.
For the second phase of Foreclosed, MoMA will present an exhibition of proposed projects in The Robert Menschel Architecture and Design Gallery, from January 31 through July 31, 2012. At the center of the exhibition will be physical models, drawings, renderings, and animations to be produced by the five teams during the workshop period (May 16-September 17, 2011). Project proposals by the teams will be supplemented with filmed interviews of teams with audio narrative. In addition, the research presented in The Buell Hypothesis will be shown with contextual material in the gallery as background to the proposals. A computer kiosk in the gallery will give visitors access to the exhibition website and blog, encouraging real-time discussion and dialogue on issues presented in the show.
Each team leader is assembling an interdisciplinary group of professionals from various fields, such as urban planning, housing policy, ecology, landscape design, engineering, and the social sciences to focus on a specific "megaregion."
Amale Andraos and Dan Wood of WORK Architecture Company and team will work on Portland, OR, within the Pacific Northwest area. Michael Bell of Visible Weather and team will focus on Temple Terrace, FL, within the Southeast area. Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang and team will be assigned Cicero, IL, within the Midwest area. Hilary Sample and Michael Meredith of MOS and team will be assigned The Oranges, NJ, within the Northeast area. Andrew Zago of Zago Architecture and team will be assigned Rialto, CA, within the Southern California area.
The selection committee for Foreclosed, led by Mr. Bergdoll and Mr. Martin, included Klaus Biesenbach, MoMA PS1 Director and MoMA Chief Curator at Large; Henry N. Cobb, Architect and Founding Partner of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners; Elizabeth Diller, Architect and Founding Partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Glenn D. Lowry, MoMA Director; Peter Reed, MoMA Senior Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs; Mark Robbins, Dean of the School of Architecture at Syracuse University; June Williamson, Associate Professor of Urban Design in the Bernard & Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at The City College of New York (CCNY), and co-author of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs; and Mabel Wilson, Associate Professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP).