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MoMA to Examine New Architectural Possibilities for American Cities and Suburbs

NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 announce 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 and Design, 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 team 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 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.

The workshop is part of the MoMA PS1’s initiative Free Space, an ongoing program in which artists and non-profit arts organizations are invited to use available gallery space for rehearsals, workshops, research, and events in exchange for an exhibition or live presentation for P.S.1 visitors. Bringing together the New York arts community during a time of economic challenge, several groups and artists have been invited to use P.S.1 as a space for research and development.

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.

Foreclosed is the second in a series of Architecture and Design exhibitions at MoMA called Issues in Contemporary Architecture, which focuses on timely topics in contemporary architecture with an emphasis on the urban dimension in order to increase public dialogue around seminal issues in architecture. The series was launched in 2009 with Rising Currents, a major initiative that brought together teams of architects, engineers, and landscape designers to address and create infrastructure solutions to make New York City more resilient in response to rising water levels.

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