Foreclosed: Team Work

The five teams have been working over the past week to incorporate feedback from their public Open Studios presentations at MoMA PS1 on June 18. Starting this week, you will be hearing from each of the teams every week until the next Open Studios on September 17, 2011, at MoMA PS1.

MOS in residence at MoMA PS1: Griffin Frazen (bottom left), Kate Lisi (top left), and Magdalena Naydekova (center). Photograph by Leigha Dennis

MOSHilary Sample and Michael Meredith

Site Location: The Oranges, New Jersey

1. Understand Orange, NJ; look at the site economically and infrastructurally.
2. Attempt to describe “social” space.
3. Finish material research into Aerated Concrete, try to produce a super-lightweight foamy concrete panel.
4. Solve America’s housing problems as best you can, within the context of MoMA.
5. Finish the following text:

Replacing the “Urban” with the “Social”
We like cities like we like ruins. Urbanity as the entropic other to architecture is over. There’s no need for us to claim its demise; it died a while ago—a quiet death played out one single-family house at a time. We now have the social, with the never-ending cascade of tweets and bleeps. Things have become more and more, and more and more diffuse. What else would explain the endless proliferation of life-satisfaction indices: consumer confidence, quality of life, livability, happiness, etc.? The social attempts to quantify experience, to calibrate its effects, to pin down relationships through documentation. The “social” objectifies “relationships.” We are data to be shared. We are communication. We are economics. We are political widgets.

Despite its insistence on typological/morphological/Palladian authority, postmodernism was not about the city or the urban, it was about the popular reception of the city; its symbols, its images. The mannerist proclivities of shape making. We know this is not revelatory, we just wanted to make that clear. PoMo architecture was not in search of the Other of the city, but it was a process of subsuming the image of the city within itself and within a cultural language. The cheeky references, inside jokes, and historicist figuration was all a ploy to kill the entropic urban. The city is dead, long live the city!

6. Make a model, write a script, make a movie of the model.
7. Despite everything, try to have fun.

Site Plan. Courtesy of WORKac.


WORKacAmale Andraos and Dan Wood

Site Location: Salem-Keizer, Oregon

Keizer is changing. A microcosm of national and global issues, it is faced with foreclosures, shrinking resources, and a projected significant increase in population. Our site sits at a crossroads of possible futures for the city. How will Keizer transform while preserving what made it desirable? Can we imagine an increase in density within the city’s urban growth boundary? Can Keizer embrace mixed use, local jobs, public transportation, public space, and a wide range of housing typologies and property models? Can it also be a rich natural ecosystem? What about diversity, of people, uses, houses, and plant and animal life? Can we integrate infrastructures—from housing to transportation to ecology? What about creating a continuous “public” realm—aren’t we most private in a sea of people? Could “community” be more about difference and strangers than shared values and sameness? Can we project, again, a different dream?


Western Electric’s Hawthorne Tower in its historical context (left) and what remains today, an abandoned tower behind a strip mall (right). Photograph on right courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

Studio GangJeanne Gang

Site Location: Cicero, Illinois

Cicero, Illinois, historically saw itself as a city of industry, not a suburban idyll. Western Electric’s famous Hawthorne Works once employed 25,000 people at a time when Cicero had only 15,000 residents. As factories (and their workers) left in the 1980s, Mexican immigrants arrived to fill in the gaps. Foreclosure in Cicero is at root a foreclosure of industry; an employment crisis prefigured its housing crisis.

Rather than reinforcing the rigid separation of live and work, public and private, industry and housing, we have chosen Cicero’s foreclosed industrial properties as the site of re-invigoration and urban transformation. The remnants of its industrial past also offer an alternative to the monotony of the bungalow—an opportunity to restore height, density, and a variety of uses to the low-slung suburban landscape. We continue to investigate sites along Cicero’s rail corridors for the appropriate place to introduce new combinations.


Michael Bell: Visible Weather team in residence at MoMA PS1: Nicholas Chelko, Jesse Keenan, Jovanna Suarez, Eugene Lee, and Da Yeon Kim. Photograph by Eunkyong Kim

Michael Bell: Visible WeatherMichael Bell and Eunjeong Seong

Site Location: Temple Terrace, Florida

When one bank agrees on an $8.5 billion settlement with investors over failed mortgage securities, it seems impossible to imagine the scope of the housing crisis in the United States. The working poor, the very poor, and those who just get by have had a housing crisis that, during the past 30 years, was addressed as a need for “affordable housing” rather then public housing.

The mortgage crisis has dramatically widened the scope of households at risk today. This crisis, combined with energy issues that are sure to force higher density in suburban developments, seems to indicate that it is time for major change. Can architects, engineers, and planners find some new terrain that is not utopian but also not revision? Public money is laced through the suburbs in immense sums already. Our team has been working on fusing the expansive border roads of Temple Terrace and Tampa, Florida, with a new housing model that would be transitional and owned by the city—a new zone that changes in time and addresses the need for long-term change. The goal is to create a new urban zone that ties into the public funds of the roads, the public rights-of-way—the under-utilized spaces that, while public, are a fragmented no-man’s-land today. Temple Terrace and the immediate zone it shares with Tampa have a broad gap in housing stock. The cities need a new model of housing that would serve a far broader diversity of households.


Rialto team meeting at Zago Architecture in Los Angeles. (Left to right) David Bergman, Andrew Zago, Bruce Danziger, Laura Bouwman, and Alex Felson. Photograph courtesy of Zago Architecture

Zago ArchitectureAndrew Zago

Site Location: Rialto, California

Since the Open Studios, we’ve focused our efforts on understanding and reworking the stranded physical investment at our site, a partially completed residential subdivision in Rialto, California. The site is typical of the large and often controversial Inland Empire subdivisions, pushing their way into the foothills of Southern California’s San Bernardino Mountains. Our intention is to create a new type of urbanism from the suburban morphology, rather than to graft an existing urban model onto it. We’re working simultaneously on the form and density of the single-family homes on the site, as well as their integration with surrounding ecologically critical habitats and resource conservation areas.