The multidisciplinary teams working on projects for the exhibition Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream have three weeks to go in the workshop phase before the final public Open Studios at MoMA PS1, on Saturday, September 17.
Project: The Garden in the Machine
Site Location: Cicero, Illinois
Knowing visitors to the final exhibit will inevitably be drawn to the model in all its foam-and-aluminium glory, we’ve elected to use the video monitors at our disposal to counterbalance our polished, parallel future with the messy realities of Cicero’s present. Why is Cicero “foreclosed?” they’ll ask. Whose dream are we changing, and how does it involve living in a former factory with its own brewery? The best way to tell that story, we decided, was to let Cicero residents tell it themselves.
Early in the process, our teammates Roberta Feldman and Theaster Gates worked with Cicero’s Interfaith Leadership Project to interview residents about their own personal foreclosure crises. Those sessions (with more to come) have been taped and edited by Spirit of Space’s Adam Goss, and we intend to display them across three screens. The first will depict Cicero’s forlorn industrial landscape, another piece of which went up in smoke last week when a warehouse burned to the ground.
The second screen will feature Interfaith Director Cristine Pope in her office (as seen above), describing lenders’ predatory tactics prior to the crisis, as well as the Town of Cicero’s pathetically inadequate response to the foreclosure tidal wave: out of 1,066 homes foreclosed in the city last year, federal neighborhood stabilization funds were only used to buy, rehab, and resell a dozen of them. This type of predicament is all new to her, and its irony is clear. “We never worked on housing issues in the past, because Cicero was the community where everyone moved to be able to buy their first house,” she says.
The third and final screen will be devoted to the residents themselves, whose accounts of their stories are organized by theme: the bungalows in which they live; the two or three jobs they hold (including one woman who works two shifts at two different JC Penney stores on the same day); their large families and dwindling support networks; and, finally, their dream homes—“mansions” with balconies and hallways wide enough to allow their inhabitants to slide past each other without turning sideways. Perhaps we’re fortunate that the dreams we’ve been charged with changing are so modest.
Site Location: Salem-Keizer, Oregon
Our team continues to grow, with new arrivals and help coming at the same time some of the original group returns to school. We have decided on the materials and format of the big model—primarily etched white paper backed with plexi for the windows—and started the CNC milling of the big landscape base. The first buildings are taking shape in the office and looking good. We have ordered model trees from a specialist who charges by the inch. As the model powers along, a new second crew is beginning work on the final renderings and layout of the exhibition, and we have our own creative team of art director and copywriter at Wieden + Kennedy, with whom we plan to start working on the video at the end of the week. HR&A are calculating costs and crafting the financial argument and we gave an interview to the Salem Statesman, who—not to be outdone by the Keizer Times—will publish an article on the project next week. We are weeks behind where we wanted to be, but at least things are moving.
Project: Simultaneous City
Site Location: Temple Terrace, Florida
In the building(s) its possible to take a midnight walk to a small grocery store in the complex and to encounter a wide spectrum of experiences; there is a small spot on a plaza level at grade where two ramps meet that would allow anyone in the near 10-acre project to converge. The entire building can empty out and everyone would come face to face at this zone—casting the entire architectural work into the background—behind you.
“Periodic Table of Houses”
Project: Property with Properties
Site Location: Rialto, California
In our project, a few basic house types replace, parcel by parcel, the houses originally planned for the subdivision. By creating a duplicate of these houses and adjusting their location via larger site block shifts (our term for this is mis-registration), we significantly increase the overall density of the project and create—via their intersection with one another—a very large set of house, duplex, and multifamily variations.
Final production of our 1:40 site model is underway. 236 houses are awaiting their first coat of paint. Color studies and painting technique tests are complete. By week’s end each house will have received two colors, one carefully and intentionally mis-applied over the first—slipping onto the ground plane. Both a diagram for the project and an object in and of itself, the site model is a key component of our exhibition.