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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Thoughts on a Walking City

Thoughts on a Walking City / Photograph by Levi Stolove

The Oranges, New Jersey

Firm: MOS
Architects: Hilary Sample, associate professor of architecture at Columbia

Michael Meredith

The City of Orange — more urban than suburban — is linked to New York City and Newark by commuter rail but is nonetheless struggling with foreclosures, vacancies, property abandonment, lack of fresh food, and social isolation. By turning underused streets — a significant expense for the city — into sites of redevelopment, we seek to redirect homeownership toward a dense environment rather than individual enclaves. People converge around courtyards and public spaces, and walking becomes a principal mode of transport.

The housing, a series of structurally solid units, is designed with floor-to-ceiling windows to provide health-giving light and air. Gardens permeate the ground floor and continuous roof surfaces. The courtyards, formed by the angled units, provide additional garden spaces linked to the adjacent vacant and overgrown lots. The idea is that private space that is now abandoned, foreclosed, or empty would be given back to the public. Through a shared-equity model, units are developed for either living or work, with ground-floor commercial space and open-air passages so that people can walk between buildings. The units are meant to be modified by residents, as in Le Corbusier’s Quartiers Modernes Frugès in Pessac, France.

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