Art (not) imitating life: MoMA hosts foreclosure-themed exhibit

The long-awaited recovery in the housing market could finally be taking shape, some economists believe. Housing starts are up. Home sales have risen from their cyclical lows. Inventory levels are down sharply from cyclical highs. Builder sentiment is gradually improving.

But should developers, architects, marketers and financiers just hit the restart button and repeat the patterns that led to the U.S. foreclosure crisis? According to the Museum of Modern Art exhibition, “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream,” the answer is no.

Instead of letting the recent crisis go to waste, the MoMA’s Architecture and Design Department and Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture created some dynamic new architectural visions to address the needs of American communities.

“Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream” was jointly conceived and organized by Barry Bergdoll, MoMA’s chief curator for architecture and design, and Buell Center Director Reinhold Martin.

The project asked five teams of architects – including members with expertise in economics, finance, housing, and public policy – to think in new ways about relationships among land, housing, infrastructure, urban form, and public spaces. Bergdoll told Reuters in an interview:

U.S. state budgets battered by recession

Eighteen months into the worst recession in decades, and the pain of the downturn is reaching into nearly every U.S. state, city and municipality.

With ever more people out of work, consumer spending has dried up, depriving local government of sales tax revenue. The continued housing slump has wiped out real estate transfer taxes, while declining corporate profits have eroded business tax revenue.

From Maine to California, the slump has drained coffers at the very time that the cost of providing jobless benefits and healthcare has risen, straining public finances.