Posts tagged with "Real Estate":

Architect as Developer

Jared Della Valle will present his design and business philosophy, and Michiko Ashida will join him in a conversation on integrating architecture and development—and the opportunities it affords. Jared Della Valle is the CEO and Founder of Alloy. He has been a real estate professional and architect for more than 20 years and has managed the acquisition and predevelopment of more than 2 million square feet in New York City along the Highline, in the Hudson Yards, in DUMBO and in Downtown Brooklyn. Jared is the chair of the Board of Trustees at the Van Alen Institute, and sits on the Board of Directors at the Architecture League of New York and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. He has taught at Columbia University, Syracuse University, Washington University, Parsons School of Constructed Environments and Lehigh University. He holds a B.A. from Lehigh University and Master’s degrees in both Architecture and Construction Management from Washington University, St. Louis, MO. Michiko Ashida is Vice President of Design at Silverstein Properties. She has worked closely with partners and consultants to design, plan and coordinate over 3 million square feet of office and retail space at the World Trade Center. Prior to joining Silverstein Properties, Michiko was a Senior Technical Coordinator at Skidmore Owings & Merrill and worked on a range of award-winning, large-scale projects. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University School of Architecture. RSVP by noon on Tuesday, June 18 if you plan on attending.
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TECH+ Expo returns to New York to talk the business of building

According to Dr. Andrea Chegut, there is a constant tension between securing capital investment and being inventive in the built environment. It’s something that architects have to grapple with as they make design decisions that will please the client and investors, but also adhere to their creative vision. “This tension is happening in your desktops every day,” she told attendees of AN’s third annual TECH+ conference in New York on June 13. Chegut is the cofounder and director of the Real Estate Innovation Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). As the keynote speaker for the tech-focused forum, held in partnership between AN and Microsol Resources, she reminded the architects present that they are inventors and that it’s imperative to stand up for their work because smart design helps make money. Chegut’s role as a financial econometrician is to research technologies that can improve the relationship between investors and designers, advance communication, and turn design features into metrics that investors can feel good about. “Global research and development expenditures are at an all-time high,” she said, “and real estate is shifting towards R&D and scalable business models, too.” Chegut pointed out that last year, global venture investment in technology for the built environment exceeded $20 billion. That’s a major look into the future of the industry, she said. Not only that, but climate change is making the business of building and maintaining buildings even more costly. From 2000 to 2017, the United States spent $2.5 trillion on resiliency planning and recovery efforts, and $117 billion to manage chronic floods. To get ahead of these issues, Chegut believes technology can help architects and real estate stakeholders make smarter decisions about their projects. Think automation, which could transform valuations processes, accounting, and more, or robotics, such as the Mediated Matter group’s FIBERBOTS, a digital fabrication tool that can create sophisticated material architectures. Even as augmented reality advances through the integration of added sensory modalities, it can immerse and nearly alter one’s perception of the built environment. These could make working in the field substantially smoother. It’s not just tech tools still in the research stages that could change the future; there are products that exist now on the commercial market like transparent wood, view glass, as well as digital software such as Humanyze, the WillowTwin, and Skyline AI that are transforming the way architects work. Companies like Envelope City and Katerra are already leading the way in zoning analysis and material manufacturing optimization. Chegut noted that her team, in particular, has been working on a property technology that could benchmark value drivers of design for investors to get behind. Through an experiment they call Wide Data, the MIT Real Estate Innovation Lab created a database with information on all buildings in New York City that was used to determine common themes across award-winning structures, specifically commercial office buildings. They found that access to daylight can lead to a direct 6.6 to 7 percent increase on the cost per square foot of a building in Manhattan if it meets the green standards set up by LEED. In essence, Chegut backed up through economic data that the value of daylight adds to the monetary value of not only a building but a company, too. “Give humans daylight and we’ll make money,” she said. It’s dedicated research to tools like this that make technology so important for the work of an architect. Everything from advances in BIM, Revit, AR, and VR to prefabrication and efficient construction techniques means that the business of building is getting better because of technology. The rest of the day’s events at TECH+ zeroed in on these innovations and how certain companies and architecture firms such as Kaiser Permanente, SOM, GeoSlam, SHoP, and Payette, among others, are doing big things with new tech. Other conversations included the unique integration of gaming technology to help tell stories through design, and the use of specific tools that helped create New York’s newest architectural landmarks: The Shed and Vessel at Hudson Yards.
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Fallingwater look-alike on the market for $3.5 million

When an iconic modern house enters the real estate market, one can expect uniform lamentation from architects that a piece of history might be co-opted by an unworthy steward. In the case of 51 Pecksland Road in Greenwich, CT, there is absolutely no fear of that occurring. The house, designed in 1973 by architect Dimitri Bulazel, bears more than a striking resemblance to Frank Lloyd Wright’s design for Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, both in overall form and architectural detailing. However, the only scenario where one might see falling water on this site is if the jacuzzi on the upper terrace overflows. Though completed nearly half a century after Wright's masterpiece, the 4,675-square-foot, single-family house is being described by the realty company Berkshire Hathaway as a “truly exceptional, one-of-a-kind home.” While some may be able to debate the “exceptional” nature of this $3.5 million near facsimile, calling it “one-of-a-kind” is veering into alternative fact territory.
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Liz Diller, Patrik Schumacher, Christopher Sharples, and others, to speak at NYC real estate and architecture summit

With sessions ranging from "Luxuries That Never Go Out of Style" to "The Science and Emotional Power of Color" and "Inclusive, Enhanced City," the City of Tomorrow Real Estate and Design Summit (Friday, February 3 to Saturday, February 4) promises to cover a wide range of territory. The event was organized by the 92nd Street Y and Hundred Stories, a New York City-based public relations firm that represents a wide range of real estate developers and New York properties. The Friday night headline event is "Architecture and New York’s 21st-Century Identity," 7 to 8pm, and includes Liz Diller of DS+R, Roger Duffy of SOM, Christopher Sharples of SHoP, and Patrik Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects. The weekend's events also feature James Ramsey, creator of the Lowline, Jeffrey Beers of Jeffrey Beers International, Nadine Maleh, executive director of the Institute for Public Architecture, among a swathe of other designers, developers, and city officials. For a full list of events and ticket options, go to the 92nd Street Y's website.
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Pratt Institute launches Master of Science in Real Estate Program (REP)

The Pratt Institute has announced a new degree program: Master of Science in Real Estate Practice, which will commence in fall 2017. The Real Estate Practice program will train students to develop skill sets focused on public-private partnerships, housing and urban development, and sustainable development. This focus on public-private partnerships is due to an increase in real estate professionals’ interaction with broader interdisciplinary teams. Courses offered in 2017–2018 include: The Development Process, Fundamentals of Real Estate Development Finance, Fundamentals of Real Estate Portfolio Investment, Real Estate Law and Land Use Regulation, Public/Private Redevelopment, Urban Economics and Market Analysis, Real Estate Valuation and Capital Markets, Project Management, Demonstration of Professional Competence-Thesis, and Demonstration of Professional Competence-Studio. The new 36 credit program is meant to complement existing graduate programs of the Pratt School of Architecture: City and Regional Planning, Sustainable Environmental Systems, Historic Preservations, Urban Peacemaking and Management, and Facilities Management. “With this new program, Pratt’s School of Architecture now has a trilogy of programs focused on the built environment: Construction Management, Facilities Management, and Real Estate Practice. This unique and exciting program focuses on educating and training students in real estate practice at the intersection of public-private partnerships,” said Regina Ford Cahill, chairperson at Pratt Institute in a statement to Real Estate Weekly. Click here to learn more.  
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How real estate speculation, ugly architecture, and gentrification shape Austin's urbanity

In a teaser for the new season of IFC's Portlandia, protagonist Fred Armisen comes to Austin, Texas whereKyle MacLachlan plays the mayor who navigates the pitfalls of our neighborhoods. Coffee shops, record stores, a couple of bars: “Alright, cool,” MacLachlan says. But then strollers and baby clothing stores start popping up, “Not cool!” he protests. The show’s hyperbole isn’t far off: It's hard to find a good, affordable place to live in this town. The Austin real estate bubble’s most difficult issues manifest themselves in the realm of single-family housing. Buoyed by soaring property costs, speculative redevelopment has been transformative in central neighborhoods, especially East Austin. Typically, developers buy properties and quickly erect a cheap new house that maximizes the allotted FAR (floor area ratio) of the site, thereby maximizing sales profit. This type of development is disruptive. As houses grow larger and boxier, they change a street’s definitive qualities of scale and grain. Last December, the Austin City Council updated the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) requirements, which set limitations on the size and placement of back houses. ADUs are now able to be 1,100 square feet (up from 850 square feet), closer to the main structures (10 feet, down from 15 feet) and a parking space is not required in some areas. The minimum lot size required for an ADU is now 5,740 square feet, down from 7,000 square feet. The legislation also placed restrictions on the use of ADUs for short-term rentals, a contentious issue that further affects housing prices. This is a step in the right direction. Currently, Austin’s minimum buildable lot size is 5,750 square feet, and a movement for small lot amnesty calls for that number’s reduction. The opposition is explicit in its reasoning: Such a change would allow developers to buy larger lots and subdivide them, encouraging further conversion of neighborhoods into engines of capital creation. Unfortunately, whatever is good for urban density is good for developers, as it increases the number of housing units to be sold. Small secondary houses do improve density, but they don’t adequately address affordability. Those residences are sold or rented at market cost-per-square-foot prices, rendering them only available to individuals or couples who can both afford them and only require so much space—youthful types who move here in large quantities. Hence, gentrification. This doesn’t help families or low-income individuals, populations that are in decline in central Austin. Minority residents of East Austin, for example, are priced out of their homes and are exiting the city in large numbers. African-Americans in particular are adversely affected, singled out as the only demographic that’s shrinking in our booming city. Such trends have created an Austin that is now the most economically segregated metro area in the country.
A photo posted by @uglyaustinhouses on
For Anthony Alofsin, AIA, a practicing architect and professor in architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, the concerns of diversity outweigh the concerns of density. Alofsin has been in Austin for almost 30 years, long enough to recount previous boom and bust cycles in the real estate market. Some of his academic research studies builder homes, which remain the most common way Americans house themselves, a statistic largely ignored by the architectural profession. In Alofsin’s view, a diverse mix of individuals—different patterns, passions, occupations, incomes, and ethnicities—leads to an “urban experience,” and Austin is short on this type of urbanity. Alofsin also worries about larger repercussions of civic housing trends: Changes in national family trends combined with the exodus of families from the city center spells disaster for the future of Austin’s public schools. Form-making isn’t important at this scale: Whether a house has a flat roof or fake stone or a turret is irrelevant to the economics at work.

A photo posted by @uglyaustinhouses on

To see what’s on the market now, Creede Fitch, a real estate agent with Skout who focuses solely on modern and midcentury properties, took me on a tour of neighborhoods near 12th Street. Close to the railroad tracks, one luxury spec house near the railroad tracks set a high water mark, selling for around $600,000 last year (it was also featured on the 2015 AIA Austin Homes Tour). A few blocks away, Fitch points out a slim lot with an older structure on-site, clearly not worth salvaging. “$290,000!” he reports, not without disbelief.

Fitch, who himself is building a new home in East Austin, tries to educate clients on both Austin and modern architecture, though he admits that “modern” is not important to many buyers. Fitch is also aware of better ways to increase density; he described one solution where smaller existing homes are maintained and a larger “primary” new build house is placed behind, providing privacy and preserving the scale of the street. A pilot project in this style is a casita renovated by architect Alan Gonzalez, sited on the front half of its lot. The steep price tag—a listed $375,000 for 785 square feet—would make most wince, but it’s a baby step in the right direction.

The good news is that some architects are working to change market realities, or at least their aesthetic dimensions. Jared Haas, principal of Un.Box Studio, spoke with me about a house he recently completed with Newcastle Homes. Knowing the market and the ground rules of spec projects, he designed a clean shape with a restrained material palette inside and out. Instead of the ubiquitous Hardie board siding, he sourced a vertical wood board at a comparable price. The house was purchased before it was completed, and Haas is at work on two more with the same company.

Other models of practice—architect-as-developer, design-build, design-build-develop—offer exciting alternate avenues of investment and engagement, and there are a number of successful examples at work in East Austin. Speculative building is now seen as pejorative, but it can be incredibly progressive. Haas, for one, looks forward to the time where spec projects, rather than further isolating residents, can bring them together in hybrid social spaces. What if speculative housing led the way toward new formats of living?

Later, I drove around East Austin to check in on its progress. I lived in the Chestnut neighborhood for two-and-a-half years in a full-size back house with two housemates; the house’s builder-developer had created a condominium complex of two houses on a single lot, another way to circumvent typical density limitations. It is both smartly dense, lucrative, and ruinous to the property values of neighbors. Nearby blocks are majority new builds, with accompanying new residents.

Construction has started on The Chicon, a three-building complex of affordable and market-rate apartments, close to an intersection that was once singled out as the city’s most dangerous. In 1925, one could take a streetcar from that corner all the way downtown. Now there’s a skee-ball bar on the block. Neighborhoods roll over, sometimes with unfortunate consequences, but the tide keeps going—part of life in a city. I stopped in front of a particularly ugly spec home with walls that bulge and tilt, as if frozen in nauseous mid-collapse. I slow my car to photograph the offense, but instead smile, wave, and move along—there is a moving truck out front with a couple unloading bicycles, ready to make that house their home.

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Museum of Vancouver exhibition deftly critiques the city's red-hot real estate market

There is something surreal in the new exhibition at the Museum of Vancouver (MOV), Your Future Home: Creating the New Vancouver, on view until May 15. It’s not just the museum’s late ’60s architecture by Gerard Hamilton. It’s not the giant crab in a fountain that ushers patrons into a dome-like edifice with a cavernous interior reminiscent of some sci-fi film about “the future.” (George Pal’s The Time Machine springs to mind.)

It’s also not the slightly trippy Brian Eno music, or even the Through the Looking Glass–style mirror (Can You Afford to Be Here by Dialog) that exhales phrases in different languages about what it’s like to live in the city with the highest cost of housing in North America. This mirror returns the civic gaze—and responsibility—to the viewer.

Rather, it’s the whole meta-theater of it: the museum is actually a kind of real estate sales center where patrons are prospective buyers.

“Vancouver is a city in flux, undergoing massive growth and redevelopment,” said Gregory Dreicer, MOV’s director of curatorial and engagement, who worked alongside exhibition designers McFarlane Biggar Architects. “With as many as three homes demolished each day—often to make room for denser living—we are experiencing a watershed moment in the history of the region.”

While talking about the price of real estate has become something of a civic obsession, Dreicer said the aim of the exhibition is “to shift the conversation from real estate to the state of the city.”

Your Future Home opens with a huge wall of photographs of various housing types in the city—from a homeless tent to a mansion to an old railway house—all underlined in red to mimic the current trend in real estate marketing literature. (In Vancouver’s overheated market, homeowners regularly receive such notices of recent sales in their mailboxes.)

The intent here is to focus on the residential typology itself, rather than to fetishize price per square footage, and the wall of homes is an intriguing mosaic of Vancouver housing styles.

Next, patrons are ushered into a mock sales center with a collage of various parts of the city. Faux sales sheets offer statistics about the city itself—as if it were a single property. An adjacent wall, plastered with a huge image of the typical Vancouver city view, is punctuated by various other statistics like “50% of Vancouverites use private cars, 5% bicycles.” Across from this view, four flat screen monitors offer maps and statistics compiled by planner Andy Yan, illustrating the exhibition’s central themes: housing affordability, residential density, ease of transportation, and quality of public space.

An animated video of Vancouver draws one into city streetscapes. Across from it another aerial view photograph of the city proves revealing: Vancouver’s downtown is a tiny peninsula of density, surrounded by a sea of suburban style housing.

With text noting a projected population increase of 150,000 residents by the year 2040, the question, Where will they all live? hovers (metaphorically) above the idyllic view.

The third section attempts to answer that question while raising many others. While uneven at times, and slightly overwhelming, this part of the exhibition has a curiously Victorian feel about it, with many of the several dozen mini-exhibits mounted on blocks, reading like dioramas reimagined for the 21st century.

One by Erick Villagomez called The Grid is a simple wooden cube with a grid imposed on it, and a kind of viewmaster-cum-pinhole-camera that looks down into a montage of fantastical civic images that aim to encourage a “new social and spatial order.”

The grid is applied to a Vancouver beach, and a dense cluster of high-rises applied to a wealthy waterfront enclave. Nature is overlaid with built environment and new urban models are superimposed on suburban landscapes, offering inventive takes on new ways to inhabit the city.

Another highlight is architect Gregory Henriquez’s Vertical City that plays with the idea of a dramatic shift in scale and Vancouver’s obsession with “the view.” Here, a model for a 2,500-foot-tall highrise is created by upending a 15-block area of the city complete with existing buildings. A large roof top terrace features a “sky garden” and a dizzying view.

Framed by a loop of photos of important civic events and city builders on one end and a film about public space and transportation on the other, neighborhood histories—how Chinatown residents rallied to save their community from a freeway—mingle with imagined futures like a post-global warming transportation network for bicycles.

Architect Oliver Lang offers a dense pyramidal model as an alternative to both low-rise sprawl and highrise living. And architect Javier Campos presents Density in Section as a kind of cri de coeur for greater diversity of built environment in the city, one that mixes residential, commercial, and industrial. Fittingly for a rail against homogeneity and conformity, the model consists of a series of tiny multi-leveled flags bearing images of buildings that form a triangular peak, and read like banners of protest.

Your Future Home is as much a call to arms to save the soul of a place in danger of becoming a resort town for the wealthy, as it is a celebration of the city. The exhibition manages to foil Vancouver’s real estate–fueled fortress mentality of isolation and unaffordability even as it critiques it, simply by engaging patrons and offering both historical insight and potent possibilities.

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Microsoft HoloLens partners with the first holographic real estate leasing center

The new holographic headset by Microsoft, HoloLens, has just started shipping to U.S. and Canadian developers last week for $3,000 (the consumer version release date is still unannounced). Now we hear the tech company giant is partnering with global real estate developer Skanska to create the first leasing center in the world using holographic technology. No word yet on the leasing center’s location, but the space is expected to open this June. The center is slated to help sell Skanska’s proposed and unbuilt project, 2+U, a downtown Seattle high rise planned between First and Second Avenues and Seneca and University Streets, with expected completion early 2019. Seattle-based digital production agency Studio 216, which specializes in real estate virtual and mixed-reality visualizations, is partnering with Microsoft and Skanska on the 2+U project. Unlike other virtual reality headsets such as Oculus Rift (which Facebook's acquired for $2 billion), HoloLens is untethered, and incorporates a more “mixed reality” or an “artificial reality” setup: users can still be present and aware of the space they are in and other people around them. Holograms are “projected” onto real objects in space. “Developing for Hololens is similar to developing for VR headsets, but you have to ask yourself different questions,” said Kyle Riesenbeck, Technical Lead for the 2+U Holographic project in a press release. “With VR, you have to create both the environment and the content, but with Hololens, the challenge is determining the best way to have your content interact with your existing world, and enhance your real life experience in a unique and necessary way.” According to Microsoft’s website, the device features sensors, a processing unit, special high-def color lenses, and built-in speakers. Microsoft is also collaborating with Lowe’s, the home improvement company, to help customers visualize new kitchen or living layouts, finishes, and more. Since we are on the topic of holograms, enjoy this YouTube video of the Seattle skyline, featuring a different type of holographic technology.
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MIPIM Day Three: Where's the U.S. contingent?

MIPIM, the world’s largest and most important real estate and development convention, conference, and meeting attracts nearly 25,000 people to Cannes every year. But like the Venice Biennale, or Saloni di Mobile in Milan, there are virtually no Americans in attendance at this international meeting. MIPIM is primarily a development gathering, and, while the United States is the strongest economy in the world with $534 billion in total real estate transactions, $91 billion in foreign investment in commercial property, and $104 billion in residential sales purchases by foreign buyers, American developers and cities seem immune to the attraction of foreign capital. But MIPIM is also a meeting about the physical development of the city and while there are many European architects in attendance there are only a handful of U.S. architects in Cannes. A meeting with the Berlin architect Jurgen Mayer H. it is clear that three days spent at the fair an architect can meet with dozens of future and potential clients both private and civic. There are pavilions by nearly every moderate-sized city (Lyon, Brussels, Palermo) and large cities (Istanbul, Paris, Mexico City) in the world-except from North America. It may be that America is large enough to be a self-supporting internal market but our myopia leaves billions of potential development dollars on the table. We seem more interested today in building walls than bridges.
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MIPIM Day Two: Modeling and mapping the Responsive City

MIPIM takes place in the most complicated, counterintuitive series of convention halls on the Mediterranean waterfront. In trying to find the basement registration hall I ran into Ben Van Berkel who tried to help, but was having his own problems finding the ‘innovation forum’ that is the center of the architecture presentations. He claims he attends every other year because he can meet, in two days, 15 to 20 old and potential new clients. In the forum, we heard HOK present their Responsive Cities project that mines municipal data and then expresses it in maps that can be used by architects to drop future projects into and understand how they interact with the existing city. They showed a HOK sports stadium that might then become a useable bridge and public space during the day when it is not used for sports events. Speaking of models, MIPIM has a collection of the most fantastic scale models of cities like London and Istanbul that are enough of a reason for the design press to come to this event. This technical forum then morphed into a talk by Arik Levy, the Israeli/French designer who showed how to create value through the placements of art in projects and also bring culture to the places where working people spend their days. The forum was sponsored by Vitra, and they used their famous Swiss campus as an example of high design to super-charge daily life. We also met with Asudio, a young firm of ex-Foster employees who started up during an economic downturn and were able to get a series of schools projects that taught them to work efficiently and on-budget to produce impressive low-budget public work. They have also just started a new venture '63,000 Homes' that they hope can steer clients into creating work with innovative plans, uses, and architecture Asudio showed a new project that was meant to be a single commercial building, but they convinced the client to create two buildings that used a heat exchanger to transfer the daytime heat generated for the commercial space to heat the residential spaces when they needed the warmth during the day. There seem to be no end of the high technological solutions to everyday urban problems here at MIPIM. More tomorrow.
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Quicken's Dan Gilbert snaps up Detroit's landmark Book Tower

Dan Gilbert, billionaire founder of Quicken Loans and champion of downtown Detroit commercial real estate, last week announced he will buy the long-vacant 38-story Book Tower skyscraper and two other adjacent buildings on Washington Boulevard. The latest in a series of acquisitions for Gilbert sizable portfolio under Bedrock Real Estate Services, the buildings will cost about $30 million total, to be paid to Vancouver-based AKNO Properties. That's for the 1926 Book Tower, the 13-story Book Building and an adjacent 2-story community center. Read our Q+A with Gilbert’s real estate partner Jim Ketai here. The Detroit Free Press quoted Gilbert as saying he's planning "a game-changing, mixed-use development.” The tower and the Book Building have been vacant since 2009, and renovations are expected to cost more than $100 million.
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British Council for Offices Conference 2015: Chicago

BCO-Conference / British Council for Offices 2015 conference in Chicago http://www.bco.org.uk/Conference/Conference.aspx In 2015, the BCO will be venturing abroad to the city that many regard as the birthplace of the modern office – Chicago. In the BCO’s first long haul adventure since the highly memorable and successful Conference of 2007 in New York, and in the year of our 25th Anniversary, we will be going back to the source and at the same time asking the question “what of the future”? What can we learn from the innovation which created the first “skyscraper” – the Home Insurance Building – which topped out 130 years ago at all of 180ft tall, which we can apply to the workspace which we are creating today and in the future? Cities in America are facing the same challenges as we are in the UK, seeking to find a way to accommodate the demands of a technology hungry and sophisticated new demographic – both at work and at leisure, and in Chicago we will be comparing how different (and how similar) the responses have been on either side of the Atlantic, and looking at how those responses might shape the new cities and new workspaces springing up in Asia and the Far East.