Developed for the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream, Studio Gang’s proposal The Garden in the Machine transforms the inner-ring suburb of Cicero, Illinois, to better meet the living and working needs of its residents. The exhibition is the culmination of research and design work that began in May 2011, when 5 architect-led teams were chosen by the museum to examine new architectural possibilities for 5 separate US suburbs in the context of the foreclosure crisis. To take on Cicero’s specific challenges, Jeanne Gang assembled a diverse team, including Roberta M. Feldman, Theaster Gates, Greg Lindsay, Kate Orff, Rafi Segal, and a number of other experts on varied subjects from finance to environmental remediation.
Cicero, a former factory town, has struggled with the foreclosure of its industrial properties as well as its homes. With its abandoned factories and subsequently vanished jobs, Cicero’s high immigrant population faces unemployment, poverty, and environmental degradation.
The Garden in the Machine demonstrates how the remains of Cicero’s industry—its lands, building materials, and existing rail infrastructure—could be transformed into healthy and thriving neighborhoods. It proposes using nature and technology to improve the land, while combining housing and jobs within new, flexible live/work structures interwoven with a variety of public green spaces. In addition to this architectural vision, the project proposes revised zoning and a different form of ownership, one that allows citizens to purchase and sell shares corresponding to the live/work units they occupy. With the increased economic opportunities created by these proposed conditions, Cicero could become a successful “arrival city” where America’s newest residents can pursue their own, uniquely 21st-century American dreams.
Curator: Barry Bergdoll, Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, the Museum of Modern Art.