Michael Kimmelman seems to have entered his new post as the architectural critic at The New York Times with the same wonderment-flecked eyes you can spot on first-year students climbing Rudolph Hall’s steps each fall. As a musician, trained art historian, and cultural journalist embarking on an architectural education, his position is not so far removed from the mixed bag of students he addressed at the Yale School of Architecture recently. (He was speaking to the first professional degree students from backgrounds as diverse as biochemistry and anthropology.) Like the students whose very diversity is that which makes them valuable contributors to collegiate conversation, Kimmelman will have to hold on to his unique position even as he navigates a new field. And like the critic confesses, perhaps students should “hope to ask some stupid questions.”
Installation view of Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream at The Museum of Modern Art, 2012. Photo © Jason Mandella.
Reactions, responses, and reviews of the Museum of Modern Art’s recently opened exhibition regarding housing in the American suburbs have steadily been popping up here and elsewhere on the Internet. The five design proposals put forth in Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream have been called “propositions” in the spirit of instigation, catalyzing necessary conversation on cultural assumptions and priorities. I admit that I am too closely tied to the exhibition’s project to offer any sort of fair review, but it is with that spirit in mind that I argue those five propositions and the show in which they are contained manage both to reveal and underscore a fundamental conflict in the planning, design, and development of affordable housing and in the approaches taken and not taken in response to the crisis still being faced. That conflict was seen throughout the six-month research and design process and is seen within each of the exhibited projects, in the differences between them, and in the varied criticisms and commentaries they have thus far elicited.
Images from MoMA exhibition site: http://www.moma.org/foreclosed
The newly opened show at the Museum of Modern Art, Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream, through July 30, fails to accomplish what it claims: to address one of the most critical issu…