Cicero, Illinois  2012

Spirit of Space partnered with Studio Gang Architects to assist in site research and community engagement for the exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream.  The exhibition is the culmination of research and design work that began in May 2011 when five architect-led teams were chosen by MoMA to examine new architectural possibilities for five separate U.S. suburbs in the context of the recent foreclosure crisis.  Studio Gang Architects studied Cicero, Illinois.

Cicero, a former factory town, struggles with the foreclosure of industrial properties as well as residential homes. With its abandoned factories and subsequently vanished jobs, Cicero’s high immigrant population is faced with unemployment, poverty, and environmental degradation.

In this series of five films cleverly worked into the exhibition display, two short animations succinctly explain potential strategies for transforming the suburb of Cicero, Illinois to better meet the living and working needs of its residents.  Nevertheless, the other three interview films transported the foreclosure crisis from the streets into the exhibition.  The first is an interview with Cristine Pope who openly discusses the political challenges facing Cicero.  Another film interviews several residents as they discuss their own personal foreclosure crises.  The last film poetically documents the existing forlorn industrial landscape, bringing the streets of Cicero to the viewers of the exhibition and helping them better connect the propsed design solutions to the Cicero of today.