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The American Dream: Revisited

November 7, 2019

Our Junior Designer, Patti, is taking us down south to her hometown of New Orleans to discuss the latest in Millennial Culture - crowd-funded homes.

As a New Orleans native, I still like to keep up with my hometown from the Windy City and am therefore a frequent visitor on the Curbed New Orleans website. I recently came across an article about crowdfunding… for the construction of two single family starter homes. It seems like every time I’m in New Orleans, I am amazed at the number of new homes popping up around the city. I’m often drawn to aesthetic details – such as architectural style, scale, paint color, how well they blend with the neighborhood, etc., but I rarely think about how or why these homes got there.

home exteriorAll images via Engel & Volkers

In our current digital age, crowdfunding has become somewhat commonplace in the realm of raising money for a wide array of things, including entrepreneurial ventures, research and natural disasters (to name a few). This article initially caught my eye because I had never thought about crowdfunding in terms of home construction. The two homes, funded by 36 people, were designed by a New Orleans based architecture and urban design firm, OJT. As I clicked through related links, I discovered that the larger initiative of these crowdfunded homes is yet another modern take on development and design. They are just one in a series of homes being developed for the firm’s program: “Starter Home*”.

Homeownership and the American Dream is an interesting topic of conversation, as it has changed drastically in the past decade – especially when it comes to Millennials. According to a Business Insider article from earlier this year, Millennials are (1) renting longer and buying later, (2) when they do buy, they have their eye on luxury homes, and (3) they’re buying vacation homes instead. As OJT points out, we could redefine the “American Dream” as one without homeownership, OR we could embrace modern ideals and values to redefine the “Starter Home” instead. When it comes to the firm’s Starter Home* initiative, these values include developing on irregular-shaped lots in under-utilized and/or ignored zoning areas in an architectural style suited to the space instead of not a cookie-cutter re: outdated concept of the American Family Home.

Much of architecture and interior design is based in tradition – especially in a culturally and historically-rich city such as New Orleans. That said, there is something interesting and innovative about firms thinking outside the box – researching, understanding and embracing a “modern” home developed with an adherence to modern thought and environment.

Susan Brunstrum
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