remaking the suburbs
I recently attended a family wedding outside Philadelphia, in an old mansion that had been converted into a clubhouse for a golf course. We got ready for the wedding in an upstairs room that must have once been a bedroom or sitting room, and danced downstairs in the ballroom where the building's original owners must have held their own parties. Across the street stood a school whose neo-Gothic main building also was formerly a private house.
The whole experience got me thinking about the ways in which the built environment evolves over time. Since the housing market bubble burst, many of us have been wondering what will happen to the unsold or foreclosed homes and other empty buildings that dot the nation's suburbs (and some cities and exurbs, for that matter.) The idea of reusing them as schools, office buildings, multifamily housing, nonprofit headquarters, and yes, clubhouses, is exciting and interesting, but how do we get there?
The answer is going to be complicated, but I've gathered some articles here, here, here that I think suggest some good places to start. Or check out our story on the "Greening the McMansion" charrette at Reinvention 2009.--m.d.