congratulations on reinventing the city


There’s no foreclosure crisis in Manhattan. Or, for that matter, in the vibrant hearts of Chicago, San Francisco, or Portland, Ore. But head outward from these cities, into the suburban and exurban tracts in which America grew up, and the economic devastation stretches out for mile upon desolate mile of strip malls and abandoned developments. The housing boom that ended in 2006 saw home prices rise, making the economics of home building much more attractive. The arbitrage was easy, and developers across the country bought into it: buy up cheap suburban and exurban land, build as many huge houses on that land as possible, as quickly as possible, and then sell them at enormous prices to buyers with property-bubble fever. Never mind whether those buyers could actually afford that much house: so long as a bank would lend them the money, profit was assured. And of course the banks would lend anybody money, since they in turn could bundle and sell off their mortgages in the capital markets. But then the capital markets stopped buying (and offering) mortgages, leaving banks with huge amounts of bad debt and home builders with millions of unsold homes. The message of “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream,” a new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, is that it didn’t need to be this way—and that economic crises can have architectural solutions. But from the start, MoMA pulls its punches…

more from Felix Salmon at Architect here.