My parent’s definition of a responsible adult is someone who owns a home, is settled down, married with children, a steady job with health insurance and everything that comes with it. For them, the conduit for adulthood came in the form of a ranch house in the center of suburban Long Island. Back then in towns like Levittown, it was possible for a young family to purchase a new home in the leafy suburbs for $100 down – leading to mass migration. Robert Moses and his puppetry of highway and parkway systems made it a commuter’s paradise and everyone could have a piece.
As a visual kid, I was very sensitive to my surroundings. Generic neighborhoods instantly grew out of leveled soil, in rows each identical to the next and clusters of industrial parks and cul-de-sacs spread as far as one’s can see.
Fearing my own identity would be affected by this structural homogeneity, I flocked to the eclectic Brooklyn suburb of Greenpoint where I have lived for the past 9 years. I am attracted to the architecture because each building is filled with history and seasoned with character-each detail labored over. Over the past few years, I have seen my neighborhood transform to accommodate massive modern luxury complexes that take over entire blocks. The housing crisis that had plagued the nation over the past few years has made the “Boom” more of like a patter. Construction halted or hastily completed using whatever materials we the cheapest thus giving a new definition to the “readymade”. Many of these places have similar looks and feels – white cubes on the inside, grey brick on the outside.
Even though it is a strikingly similar architecture theory of fast cheap and out of control as the suburban sprawl of my parent’s generation, these new constructions are not inexpensive – almost $100 per square foot. And the marvelous Brooklyn brownstone, an old warehouse conversion or anything better than a prefab box of white walls comes at an even heftier price, making home ownership for someone like myself nearly impossible.
Now that I am in my 30’s and the idea of home ownership just seems like it’s so far out of reach, what is my ticket to adulthood? The ranch houses in my collages personify my struggle for that answer.