Dreaming American

In Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream, on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, architects were asked to rethink the American suburbs in light of the foreclosure crisis.

by Paul Hond Published Spring 2012
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Three teams led by Columbia architects propose daring new models for suburban living.

Simultaneous City

Simultaneous City / Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art

Temple Terrace, Florida

Firm: Visible Weather
Architects: Michael Bell, professor of architecture at Columbia

Eunjeong Seong ’02GSAPP

Foreclosure rates are high on the Tampa–Temple Terrace border. Here, Temple Terrace’s suburban single-family houses meet Tampa’s recent condominium conversions — the last homes to be sold before the crash and the first to fail afterward. We propose that Temple Terrace suspend its current public-private partnership (a 225-acre commercial redevelopment on land the city plans to give over to a private developer) and instead redevelop this border with a dense housing stock, creating a walkable urban area on city-owned land, with private housing for sale and rent. Our proposal is not about changing a 1950s suburb into a city, or critiquing suburban culture from an urban perspective, but rather sparking innovation in housing design by reversing the notion that public-private development models are more creative than purely public ventures.

We propose a zone in which a diversity of housing, retail, and government buildings would fuse so that all could share a deep well of financial resources. These resources, in time, could fund innovation in energy management, structural design, and housing. We envision a three-level structure topped by eighty-eight courtyard houses that form the roof of office spaces and a new city hall. By recapturing underused space (parking lots, sidewalks, setbacks), this plan could bring ten thousand new residents to the area adjoining the Tampa border, expanding Temple Terrace’s population by 40 percent.

The development at Temple Terrace could work on both a macro and a micro scale, creating a large-scale housing development that is diverse and responsive to need, and thus more financially stable than the housing models that are ubiquitous today.

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