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This project was successfully funded on June 19, 2011

The Suburbs are OK

by Andrew Zago


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The Suburbs are OK

We’ve been invited by the Museum of Modern Art and PS1 in New York to undertake a summer-long workshop to re-imagine the American suburb and the American dream of home ownership in the shadow of the home foreclosure crisis. It is an incredibly important opportunity for us to have a venue at such a prestigious institution, and we hope it will be an opportunity to help shape the national conversation on what home means today. This workshop will lead to an exhibition of our work, together with that of four other teams, at MoMA in New York next January.

This is a huge undertaking. MoMA is providing us with our base stipend. However, our plans are for a level of production that considerably exceeds that stipend. Most urgently, we need additional funds to create and prepare our in-progress work for a public event at MoMA PS1 in Queens on June 18th, just a few weeks away.

The workshop and exhibition  “Foreclosed; Rehousing the American Dream” takes as its starting point the current foreclosure crisis and the rapidly changing demographics of the American suburbs. Our team is working from my office in Los Angeles. We have been asked to make proposals for Rialto, California, a struggling community in the heart of southern California’s Inland Empire. In this area nearly 60 percent of home mortgages are currently “underwater” or worth more than the current value of the house. We are the only team from California (the next closest is working from Chicago) and the only one working on a community in greater Los Angeles.

While the intention is to produce architectural visions for the future of the suburbs, we’ve been asked to assemble a multidisciplinary team and to collaborate with them and the community in ways we haven’t worked before. In addition, we have a group of young and dedicated interns, mostly graduate students, working on this project. We are all working on it without pay. We’re excited to tackle this pressing and relevant problem, and especially excited to find ways in which creativity can inform national public policy. We find ourselves using the phrase “public imagination” to describe our goal: to make a creative vision of the American suburb and to use that vision as a way to ignite Americans’ imagination of the future.

The interdisciplinary team includes my associate Laura Bouwman, urban economist David Bergman, ecologist and landscape architect Alex Felson, and engineer Bruce Danziger. This team, and our incredible group of interns are introduced in the accompanying video.

For our June 18th presentation, we intend to undertake research and analysis of the project, including intensive field work in Rialto, and to begin our initial design work through films, architectural models and drawings.

The first $9,000 raised will go towards material and reproduction costs and a small stipend for our interns. Money raised over $9,000, up to $18,000, will go to additional production costs and a more substantial stipend for our interns. Money raised over $18,000 will allow us to cover the balance of our expenses for the June 18th presentation.

This entire project is process-based. We’ll invite our donors to follow us on MoMA’s project blog where they can also follow the progress of other teams. We’ll provide additional updates so that you can follow the progress of our work and see your dollars being put into action.

We think the suburbs are OK. They have problems and need to change but we don’t want to do away with them, we just want to make them better.

Please see the links below for our website and MoMA’s press release.


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    • May 29, 2011 Gabriel Richards Community Member

      Sounds like a worthy project, and local. I like it. Mr. Zago, if the MoMA blog you're going to maintain has an RSS feed, you can load it into your profile and post the news to automatically.

    • May 24, 2011 Kira Maria Shewfelt Artist

      This is a great project! As a native Angelino I'm proud to have you representing us at the MoMA!