21 December 2012

Wright House in Phoenix saved; Hadid to design Miami condo building

David Wright House
The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy emailed Christmas cheer to their supporters yesterday: it has facilitated the purchase of the David and Gladys Wright House in Phoenix, Arizona, through an LLC owned by an anonymous benefactor.

The transaction closed on December 20 for an undisclosed price. The property will be transferred to an Arizona not-for-profit organization responsible for the restoration, maintenance and operation of the David Wright House.


After renowned architect (“starchitect”?) Zaha Hadid joined other notables and made her imprint on Miami Beach with a municipal parking garage in the Collin’s Park area, she has been commissioned to design a residential tower in Miami, her first in the western hemisphere.

The project – no details available yet – will be located on 1000 Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami, west of Bicentennial Park and the Bay and just south of MacArthur Causeway which connects Miami with Miami Beach.

Google street-view  shows currently a BP station at the site, right next to Miami Pawn. But surely the Hadid name will guarantee the developers of 1000 Biscayne Tower adequate pricing of the units.

Hadid, mentioned in this blog in the two-part post “Modern Architecture in the Alps”, is an Iraki living in London. Only recently she had lost an intense competition to design an office on 425 Park Avenue in New York City to Sir Norman Foster. An overview of her work is at arcspace.

07 December 2012

South Florida Housing Market in October

Sorry for being a bit later than usual with the October data; I had to revise the numbers not once but twice.

As you see below, like in previous months the economic oddity of low inventory paired with flat prices continued in October. 

Palm Beach asking prices for single family homes went through the roof, but caused nothing but frustrations – like in previous months, buyers were not impressed and sat on their hands.  

The PB county gap between sellers' expectations and buyers' willingness reached an astonishing 208%, the second highest score since 2008. In Jan-Mar '12 it was even higher at 213% and then it didn't work either. As a result, absolute selling prices and SP per square feet dropped.

Broward county sellers were much more modest – the gap is at 155%, practically the same as in September, and promptly selling prices saw a slight increase. In the meantime, Miami-Dade county wobbled along, sort of a mix between Broward and Palm Beach. 

The table and the chart for single family home sales in Southeast Florida for the month of September:

South Florida housing market data by real estate broker Tobias Kaiser

South Florida housing market data by real estate broker Tobias Kaiser

South Florida home sales October 2011-2012, Source: SEF-MLS, ©tckaiser/modernsouthflorida.com

Slowly I am running out of ways to describe a flat market. And as the Holiday season is here, if past years are an indicator November and December are going to be even flatter (and more difficult to describe?).

Leaves me only to wish you a nice weekend enjoy the Holiday Season, hopefully not in a mall.

Oscar Niemeyer, Brazilian Modernist, 1907-2012

Oscar Niemeyer

"The last Giant of the Architectural Modern Movement", Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, died Wednesday.

Niemeyer – with German ancestry – was not only the last living modernist master, like Le Corbusier and other of his contemporaries he was convinced that the world can be improved through architecture. (A bit similar to Prince Charles' architectural amibitions, but on a different level and without historic aping). 

Jörg Häntzschel in the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung admiringly states that Niemayer seemed to be able to negate gravity. He constructed huge apartment buildings on columns as slender as a woman's legs. Curvy paths lead from one floor to the other like connecting clouds. Railings were superfluous. 

Niemeyers buildings, over 600 commissions in total, were famous for their sensousness and their utopian abundance. He once commented the curves typical for his buildings were inspired by those of his wife. 

Now architect Architekt Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho passed away 10 days shy of his 105th birthday on Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro.

A slideshow of his best-known works can be seen at Architectural Record.

Fotos: Reuters

22 November 2012

Thanksgiving Wishes

Let's be grateful for what we have.

A very happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones,


Photo: Ilkahöhe near Tutzing/Bavaria, © tckaiser

16 November 2012

Challenges in Marketing Modern Architecture

Florida's lovely Tropic magazine, the legitimate successor to Homes magazine, also a brainchild of capable publisher John O'Connor, focuses on all aspects of contemporary and mid-century modern design and living in Southeast Florida.

In its November issue, Tropic has a riveting piece – I must state that, I'm mentioned in it – on the challenges of marketing modernism, specifically modern architecture.

It's not the life of the Fast and Furious, or the Rich and the Famous. Not really; more the opposite.

As my dear colleague Martie always says: if you want to become rich in real estate, don't specialise in modernism. But we have super-interesting clients and even fun, don't we?

To read more on the ins and outs of marketing modern homes, pick up an issue of Tropic anywhere around the TriCounty area, read the article online here (jump to pages 22-24) or download it here as a PDF, for yours to keep and cherish.

Oh, and let me know what you think of it.

02 November 2012

South Florida Housing Market in September

Happy Friday – and don't forget US Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend, so set your clocks back one hour Sunday morning at 02:00 am (or Saturday before you go to sleep).

Rewind to September, when home sellers must have been smelling something in the air. Asking prices across all three counties increased – and promptly widened the gap between what sellers expect and what buyers are willing to fork over. Though Broward County was the most modest, it still showed a gap score of 154*.

And buyers were not impressed.

Despite moderate increases in selling prices year-over-year (three to seven percent), on a monthly basis selling prices dropped a bit, and so did the number of houses that actually changed hands.

The same goes for the asking prices of those homes which sold. Consequently, inventory – in the graph below the blue curve – is up again.

Shows again: realistic sellers in difficult markets can make things happen; unrealistic ones sit around or pay, as a client of mine called it last week, the "stupidity tax".

Chart and graph for single family home sales in Southeast Florida for the month of September:

South Florida home sales September 2011-2012, Source: SEF-MLS, ©tckaiser/modernsouthflorida.com

If you were in the market in September – as a buyer, seller or professional – what was your experience?

(*100 being complete pricing agreement between sellers and buyers).

26 October 2012

Owners of Wright-house in Phoenix consider Selling or Razing later

A development team that bought the David-Wright-house in Phoenix designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright will sell the house rather than accept landmark status, reports the NYTimes today.

The house's owners, John Hoffman and Steve Sells, are hoping to sell the house before Nov. 7, when the City Council is scheduled to vote on giving it landmark status, which they oppose.

But in Arizona landmark status shields a property from development or destruction for only three years. So if the Council grants the request, something else might happen, Mr. Sells said. 

“I’ll move in, invite everybody to come in and take their pictures, and I’m going to wait three years,” he said, interlacing his fingers behind his neck as he slouched on the orange cushions of the master bedroom’s seating area. “Then I’m going to knock it down to recoup my losses.” 

Please read the full NYTimes article here, and then voice your opinion on the possible demolition here.

Photo: The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives

19 October 2012

Successfully Preserving Modern Architecture

Too late for this one
I recently received a phone call from a reader from France: the lady's mother lives in a Fort Lauderdale waterfront home that she and her late husband had commissioned in the sixties with a well-known architect; the caller had a question.

She assumed that when her mother moves to a senior care facility and the house will be sold, it will be torn down. As if that is not sad enough, she continued by asking if I knew how some of the materials could be recycled. When I inquired if the house is still in liveable condition, she responded "absolutely". So why not sell it to someone who will preserve the house and its architectural integrity?

Shortly afterwards, I was invited to visit the house; the son keeps it in excellent condition. Priced right, it should not be too difficult to find buyers who will continue to maintain and love the house as it deserves.

The success of the story hinges – largely if not exclusively – on the sellers: see the fate of the razed Catalano house in Raleigh, NC, the uncertain ending for Fitzgibbon's Paschal house in Raleigh, or the happy end for Chuck Reed's String house in Hollywood.

If you shake your head: "nope, it's the buyers", you're mistaken.

I realise I speak pro domo, but through years of experience I learned that the sellers decision on how to market a property makes the difference. An expert broker will go beyond advising on correct pricing – see Paschal house as a negative example – and reach into his/her database of like-minded clients, who in turn will want to preserve style and integrity of the original commission.

A recent example: when my office was fortunate enough to list the String residence, the sellers and I agreed upon a realistic price, I emailed every active prospect and client in my database, procured two full-price offers before the house even was on the MLS, got the bank to send an appraiser who had extensive experience with modern homes, and found new owners who will maintain the character of the house.

Catalano house, Raleigh, NC, by Eduardo Catalano, 1954
The Kronish house, the Catalano house, the Paschal house – they show that there is a need for guided involvement. Not for blind zealots trampling on owners rights, but for interested people becoming involved. Even if you do not own or sell your modern home, you can help promote modern architecture.

More on how to do just that – on a case-by-case basis or by supporting regional or national organisations such as Triangle Modernist Houses or the World Monument Fund – can be found here. – Thank you.

12 October 2012

Art, Architecture or $?

If you haven't been shopping for modern waterfront homes in Miami in the last month or so, you're excused. But for everyone else, including this lowly real estate broker and modern architecture fanboy, some price developments are flat out ridiculous. Even considering current market-trends.

Franz Marc: House with Trees, 1914
I'm at a loss to explain to clients why a house for $3,300 per square foot is ten times nicer than one for a realistic $330 a square foot. Or why this location is ten times nicer than that one.

My suspicions of occasional random price determination were confirmed by a recently closed sale in Miami that topped the charts at $47,000,000. That house has been on the market for five years (!), starting at $60m. Based on the size of the house and a lot price of $10m, I figured that $60m was a number picked by other reasons than a normal mark-up. And true, the builders admitted that they just wanted to have the most expensive property on the market. Hats off to my colleagues who still sold it.

But when pricing is getting out of hands at times, sellers and their estate agents have to come with up with very flaky explanations, including my favourite one: "It's not real estate, it's art. Dummy". (They don't say dummy, but you somehow feel it).

My beloved NYT recently printed a good piece about it – nice to know that even some heavy hitters in The City don't buy into the art-logic, and understandably so.

Can you follow the "it's so expensive, it's art" argument? Because I sure don't.

05 October 2012

Wright house fighting for Survival; a Modern Real Estate Transaction

Modern homes by specialist real estate agent/broker Tobias Kaiser
©Scott Jarson via NYT

The David and Gladys Wright house in Phoenix, designed 1952 by David's father Frank Lloyd Wright, is in immediate danger to be torn down; a developer is chomping at the bit to raze it and subdivide the lot. 

Michael Kimmelman, NYT's architectural critic, wrote a enlightening and detailed piece about the dilemma the house is facing; please read it here.

And while you're at it, please cast your vote here to preserve this endangered design. 

Update Wed, 3 Oct: The City of Phoenix and the developer have reached an agreement that will put any work on hold while a search continues for a buyer. A senior adviser for Mayor Frank Stanton said Wednesday that the agreement with the developer who bought the 1952 home delays for nearly a month any demolition of the house. The adviser said the deal allows time to find a buyer who will preserve the house. The potential demolition of the sweeping home, built on more than two acres, set off a firestorm among architects (dpa via nyt).

Real Estate Transactions in Modern Times

Some of you may know that I also practice commercial real estate, specialising on NNN or net-leased properties (this is the case when a tenant is responsible for every building expense including taxes, repairs and insurance. Typical are a Walgreens, CVS, McDonalds or many others you see every day). 

But recently, I was part of one the more interesting commercial transactions in my 20+ years of practice – interesting because of the geographical aspects of the deal. 

The way this transaction was conducted would not have been possible when I was a noobie in real estate:

  • the two investments were located in Ohio
  • the seller was located in Tennessee
  • the buyer was located in North Carolina
  • the listing broker was located in Michigan
  • the selling broker – me – is located in Florida

Netto vermietete Anlageimmobilien und Geldanlagen in Florida und USA durch Tobias Kaiser
I never saw the properties, never met the seller, never met my colleagues, and didn't fly up to the closing (which in most cases has to take place in the county the property is located). All done electronically, all done from afar.

I have conducted negotiations, inspections and closings long-distance before, some even from overseas. But this was the first time when I handled every part of a transaction from my desk. In my opinion, this clearly works only in commercial, and even then only in some cases.

Have you done a similar deal? And what are your thoughts on conducting business without any face-time?

28 September 2012

South Florida Housing Market in August

August was yet another month with little action in the single family home market in Southeast Florida. It seems the summer heat took its toll on home buyers and sapped their energy after the school vacations. Apropos: one client, who thought he knew the real estate market better than anyone else, lost a bet on which is the busiest home-buying in Florida.

I’ll give you the answer next month – which month do you think it is?

Back to last month: while total inventory at 15,082 homes keeps shriveling month by month (-1.9%), the loss of homes available for sale year over year is quite astonishing, at -26.7%.

The current highest inventory count goes to Palm Beach county with 5.2 mos, followed by 4.7 mos in Miami-Dade and 3.4 in Broward – overall a slight decrease to previous months. Never mind that certain niches like waterfront homes with ocean access are experiencing absurd price increase, even during the listing period, and still sell like warm bread from the oven.

South Florida total real estate inventory ending 24 Sep 2012. Source: SEF-MLS via Condovultures

Of very little consequence in my opinion however are two well-published numbers: asking prices and pending sales. Looking at those feels to me a bit like celebrating already just because someone lent you a buck to play the lottery.

Of much more interest – and reader Narvey agrees, thank you so much! – is the "delta" between sellers’ expectations and buyers’ price acceptance. Seen county by county:

  • 188% delta or +5% in Palm Beach, with soft prices mom (month over month), and -4% yoy (year over year)
  • 172% delta or -14% in Miami-Dade, prices -4% mom, but +4% yoy
  • 144% delta or +4% in Broward, with no price change mom, and +10% yoy

The August chart and the numbers:

South Florida home sales August 2011-2012, Source: SEF_MLS, ©tckaiser/modernsouthflorida.com

South Florida home sales August 2011-2012, Source: SEF_MLS, ©tckaiser/modernsouthflorida.com
South Florida home sales August 2011-2012, Source: SEF_MLS, ©tckaiser/modernsouthflorida.com

If you are in the modern market, here is an interesting number to close with:

modern architecture sold in August for a median of $229/sf, an increase of 16% year-over-year and a very juicy 110% premium over the price of your average home.  Talk about a good investment.

I wonder – how does the market influence your decision and timing to buy or sell?

21 September 2012

Two events: Octoberfest Sep 22 - Oct 7, MiMo Tour Guide Academy Nov 3, 10 + 17

Two important events you can't impossibly afford to miss (well... important depending on what you like):

1. Oktoberfest in Munich

Octoberfest 2012 – Tobias Kaiser, modern homes in Florida and North Carolina
Einzug der Wiesnwirte - Parade of the Breweries and Participants

The Munich Wies'n (meadows), as Bavarians call it, will start tomorrow at 12 noon, after a spectacular procession through Munich to the location of the world's biggest beerfest, the Theresienwiese (Theresa's meadows).  

The march through town involves about 1,000 participants, including the brewers' families in decorated carriages, the magnificent horse-drawn drays of the Munich breweries, waitresses on decorated floats and all the beer tent bands. It's considered an honour to be invited to the Einzug.

And as every year since 1810, the first barrel will be tapped by the mayor of Munich, accompanied by the words "O'zapft is" (Bavarian dialect for it's tapped). 

Munich's Mayor Christian Uhde tapping the first barrel, Oktoberfest 2011
More info on this year's Wies'n, including live webcams, here. Interesting historical info on the Oktoberfest at wikipedia


my favourite Wies'n-webcams are at http://www.oktoberfest.de/en/, and reportedly Mayor Uhde  did a fine job at the 179th Wies'n, tapping the first barrel. No wonder – this was his 17th (!) time around.

2. A bit different taste of culture is served up at the Art Deco + MiMo Tour Guide Academy

The Miami Design Preservation League offers the Art Deco + MiMo Tour Guide Academy, a course designed for people who would like to know more about Miami Beach’s unique architectural styles and wish to volunteer as tour guides.

The curriculum focuses on the history of the Art Deco District, its architecture, and the efforts to preserve it. 

Graduating from the Academy requires completion of two days of educational sessions, which include walking tours, the study of architectural styles and Miami Beach history, and guest lectures. Candidates who wish to become volunteer guides need to attend a third Saturday session, primarily devoted to student presentations of selected walking tour sites. The MiMo demonstrations are available for Tour Guide candidates on the first Saturday of each month. Candidates can plan to attend this portion of the course according to their personal schedules.

The cost for the Art Deco + MiMo Tour Guide Academy is $80 and includes walking tours, lunches, briefing materials, an architectural guide, information about the architecture MDPL is committed to preserving, and information about Miami Beach history.

More info at mdpl.org

So which one do you plan on visiting?

Photo: Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, designed by Morris Lapidus. © Philip Pessar.

14 September 2012

Homeowners Advice: Get Ready for Fall

modern homes by modern architecture specialist and real estate broker Tobias Kaiser
Mid-century modern home near Munich. Photo ©tckaiser
Just because some folks live in warmer climates like Florida, it doesn't mean there are no fall home maintenance chores. Having experienced winter temps in the mid-30s as far south as Fort Lauderdale, we sure won't need snow blowers, but we shouldn't just shrug the cooler season off either by limiting it to removing the occasional dead palm frond.
All homes require maintenance. And to retain your home's best value, it's important to stay on top of projects and repairs, both large and small. Seasonal maintenance is a great way to be sure new issues are quickly addressed.

Small repairs may seem insignificant, but letting them add up over time means an overwhelming list down the road.

Take a personal inventory of repairs that need to be addressed. These could range from paver stones that need replaced in a patio to a large-scale roof replacement. Walk your home from top to bottom and make a list of issues.

Look for paint that needs retouched, tiles that need grouted, loose or scuffed baseboards, broken screens, squeaky doors, and everything in-between.

Budget and prioritize what can be addressed now, what needs a professional to fix, and what needs to wait for available funds.

Fall is also the time of year to prepare your home for Winter. It is much easier to install storm windows during temperate weather than during a blizzard!

Be sure to address each of these issues each Fall:

• Call the HVAC guy: Your unit has been working hard all Summer during this brutal heatwave. Now is a great time to service your unit before the hard work of Winter.

• Check and clean chimney: Dirty chimneys cause hundreds of home fires every year. Be sure to have a professional clean and inspect your chimney each Fall.

• Clean the gutters: It's not just about appearances, though clean gutters do look better. A clogged gutter system can back-up water on your roof and cause leaks.

• Yard maintenance: Be sure to rake leaves and pick up downed limbs during Fall. Empty and put away flower pots. Address flower beds and put down new mulch for a clean appearance.

• Prepare Winter Equipment: Put away your lawn mower (yay!) and service your chainsaw, snowblower, and other fun winter tools. It's better to know now that a tool isn't working than to discover this on a day you need it!

Fall is a great time to address the needs of your property... all in beautiful weather. Take an inventory of your home's needs and be sure to follow through with proper home maintenance. Your home's value will thank you.

How do you prepare your home for fall and winter?

31 August 2012

The South Florida Housing market in July; Happy Labor Day Weekend!

The South Florida market for single family homes in July was lame, for lack of a better word, probably because of the brooding heat: slightly lower asking and selling prices, with a finally stable inventory on a low level. This is still baffling, as low inventory should lead to higher prices, but mostly it just doesn't.

Mostly means exceptions, and in some market segments there are plenty of them: waterfront condos, modern waterfront homes in all price ranges, especially in the luxury segment above $2m, and affordable homes in good location all experience increases, some massively so. This month alone, several buyers I work with missed out because they were not prepared to accept the price increases or believed they had a better understanding of the market than professional market participants do.

Overall however, it is quiet, and August will not be much different I believe. The numbers and the graph for July:

South East Florida housing inventory July 2012, ©tckaiser / modernsouthlforida.com

South East Florida housing inventory July 2011-12, ©tckaiser / modernsouthlforida.com

Until next time, I hope you will enjoy a relaxed Labor Day weekend!

24 August 2012

Eames revisited, Paschal endangered, Lion disliked


three subjects in todays post:

1. Eames revisited

My wife – we work together – discovered a bittersweet piece about revisiting the Eames residence after 60 years, written by Allon Schoener, a cultural historian, consultant, exhibition planner and author, posted on his blog.

Schoener, having been a frequent visitor of the Eames' in the 1950s, obviously enjoyed more than one breakfast with them. He describes how he saw the Eames house for the first time again after nearly 60 years this June.

A lovely and (understandably so) slightly melancholic short piece worth your time, about tender memories coming back from a friendship and a time long gone.

Read it here.


2. Paschal endangered

Another endangered mid-century modern home, sitting on the juiciest of lots in Raleigh, North Carolina: the Paschal house by Fitzgibbons. 

The heirs supposedly have tried everything to save the house, but "not so" say many others, including George Smart from Triangle Modernist Houses.

Perhaps you can do something to save this beautiful example of mid-century modern architecture? Read about it here, while the listing can be seen here.


3. Lion disliked

Before I get off my soapbox for today, a comment about Apple's next-to-newest operating system, Lion or OS X 10.7. (You: "what, on The Modernist Angle?" Me: "Yes, indeed are computers a major element of modern times". And you can always skip it if you want).

Actually, I have two comments. 

For one, Apple seems to think that people want their OS to work like their iOS. In clearer English, they have the misconception that Macs should snuggle up as closely as possible to the ways of an iphone or an ipad. 

WRONG. Not everyone likes an Apple nanny-state in one's Mac.

Secondly, Apple in its infinite wisdom decided – for the second time – to go radical. This time, moving from operating system Snow Leopard to Lion, or 10.6. to 10.7., they ditched Rosetta. This is some spiffy secret software which ran older apps on newer Macs. But not anymore.

BAD MOVE. Vital apps don't work.

As an example: for streaming audio and video, and as a light travel Mac, we just bought an 11" Macbook Air. Quite neat. 

But our MBA model runs OS Lion without the option of downgrading to Snow Leopard, which means it refuses to run 132 (!) of the programs I have on all of my Macs, including 34 which I need and use on a weekly basis. 

Boy, am I miffed. 

What would you do?

17 August 2012

New Mid-Century Modern by Chuck Reed on the Market

I recently had the chance to meet Charles Reed Jr., or Chuck Reed as he is better known: what a wonderful, kind and humble man, and what a great life as an architect to reflect upon.

Reed, after the war working first as a carpenter, was fortunate enough to be accepted into Igor Polevitzky's studio, and told me how much he influenced by Polevitzky.

After Reed went on his own in Hollywood, one of the homes he received a commission for is now on the market (I am the listing broker): the String residence.

There are several unusual aspects to this house: for starters, it's a mid-century modern. Doesn't sound like much? Don't yawn yet.

In Southeast Florida I have documented (with address and visual verification) a bit over 2,600 truly modernist residences. Of those, only approx. 251 are currently on the market–out of 15,375 houses total for sale*. That's 1.6 percent of the inventory.

To add interest: the house, originally 1,441 sf, was expanded to 1,870 sf by the same architect. And is now for sale by the estate of the first owner, who – a lovely gentleman I unfortunately only met once – had the good sense not to throw granite countertops and tumbled marble at it. So now you have the rare case of a modernist house with architectural pedigree in near-original condition. That also means no upgrades and no central a/c (but at least quiet Mitsubishi wall-units). As long as you don't expect finds like these to come with a 2012 Subzero, you are realistic.

But hopefully, this house, just like the Hunt residence in Hypoluxo or the Wheeler house in Fort Lauderdale, will find a loving owner with a sense of style and a sensibility for the period.

Florida modern architecture by modern home specialist and real estate broker Tobias Kaiser
Florida modern architecture by modern home specialist and real estate broker Tobias Kaiser
Florida modern architecture by modern home specialist and real estate broker Tobias Kaiser
Florida modern architecture by modern home specialist and real estate broker Tobias Kaiser

A complete slide show including floor plans is here

*Tri-County area as of 8/8/12, condos and townhomes not included. Source: SEF-MLS. - Photos ©tckaiser

03 August 2012

Chance Encounters: NC Center for Architecture and Design

"Chance Encounters with Modern Architecture" is meant as a postcard of sorts, of unexpected finds of modern architecture – or perhaps art – which caught my eye.


AIA (American Institute of Architects) North Carolina Center for Architecture and Design in Raleigh, NC.

What is it:

New headquarters for the North Carolina AIA chapter, designed by Frank Harmon FAIA, opened in early 2012. The 12,000 sf project houses AIA activities such as exhibitions on the first and basement floors, with a small cafeteria open to the public to come. The first floor contains the lobby as well as flex space available to the public for rent, the second floor houses AIA offices, and the third as well as part of the second offer rental space.

Why did it catch my eye:

For one, it's the talk of the town (and the press), and if you visit friends in Raleigh – especially the architecturally-crazed like I am – you can barely escape invitations to drive over and see the building. 

And is it worth it. Harmon, after winning a statewide competition to design the building, said he saw the commission as his chance to create “an embassy for architecture”.

The triangular site is close to the State Capitol and other government buildings near downtown, at a signalized intersection with good exposure and accessibility. Harmon created a surprisingly compact building on an East-West axis, shielding part of the northern facade with a "folded over" zink roof. In contrast, the south features a glass window wall with a metal screen which eventually will be covered with vines, facing parking and a public plaza intended to also host events. 

A lot of thought was given to create a "green" structure, from the – glass enclosed! – HVAC room housing an array of heat pumps to the use of local materials such as local stone and North Carolina Cypress wood, to the low-maintenance landscape by Virginia-based landscape architect Gregg Bleam. (Compliments to the trades, which donated heavily to the project, as David Crawford, the AIA's friendly and very helpful Executive Director, pointed out). Harmon's environmental efforts gained the building an astonishing LEED Platinum rating. But besides that, it is lovely indeed and worth your time when in town.

Where is it: 

14 East Peace Street, Raleigh, NC 27604. Location map

Front (SE) elevation with entrance
Zinked screen on front façade
Multifunction room
View north, on a different style of architecture
Metal screen on south side
Filling station for electric cars
Parking lot/plaza designed to collect rainwater underneath
Site aerial during construction
All photos except bottom pic ©tckaiser.

20 July 2012

South Florida House Market in June

Single family home data in June continue along the same line as in previous months, with decreasing inventory – relative as well as absolute – and increasing prices, on a monthly as well as annual basis.

Especially Broward county shows the lowest monthly inventory since this website began recording relative inventory. (January 2008).

Prices: slight overall increases in Palm Beach County, absolute as well as per sf under air, but with a very high disconnect score of 178 between sellers' and buyers' price expectations. 

In Broward, asking prices didn't move, but median selling prices went up a notch, while selling price per sf decreased a bit. Interesting: the seller/buyer price disconnect is the lowest of the counties observed, at 138 points and shrinking.  

Miami-Dade, with a disconnect as high as in Palm Beach county, showed slightly higher asking prices but lower selling prices, probably due to buyers (or lenders?) shying away from unrealistic asking prices. 

The numbers:

South Florida home sales June 2011-2012 ©tckaiser/modernsouthflorida.com
and the chart:
South Florida home sales chart June 2011-2012 ©tckaiser modernsouthflorida.com
South Florida home sales June 2011-2012 ©tckaiser/modernsouthflorida.com

- Have a nice weekend, and until next time.

13 July 2012

Preservation or Commerce? Apple or Gap?

In an interesting case of preservation versus commercial interests, Apple Computers ran into resistance in moving its hugely successful Miami Beach store on Lincoln Road Mall into new quarters.

Lincoln Road Mall was one the first pedestrian malls in the US, designed circa 1960 by architect Morris Lapidus, whose credits also include the Fountainebleau and Eden Roc hotels. It has become a major retail corridor in Miami Beach – store rents rocketed up to $200 per square foot, recent sales reached $132m (1100 Lincoln Road, housing Banana Republic) – but is still worth visiting:

Not for the myriad of tourist restaurants or chain retailers – you'll find Victoria's Secret, Gap and Starbucks anywhere – but for its architectural details old and new, such as the striped concrete floors left intact in some places, the concrete "furniture", the pergolas or an acclaimed parking garage:

Photos ©tckaiser

The dispute is (actually, was) over Apples plans to replace a single-story building without architectural significance with a glass cube, prototype for new Apple stores. The non-descript-looking building from 1926 currently houses a Gap store. But that plan caused disputes with the city of Miami Beach’s preservation board over the current building’s historic value.

Architect's rendering of the new Apple store on Lincoln Road, Miami
Short break. At this part of the story, my question to you is: Who is right – preservationists or Apple? And before you continue reading: what would you do if you were to decide?

Made your decision?

Because there's more: facing too much resistance, Apple decided to toss their plans, and guess what happened next?

You guessed correctly. In an interesting twist, the building in question suddenly lost its historical value, Gap is allowed to tear it down and do ground-up construction of a 29,000 sf (!) project:

Architect's rendering of the new Gap store on Lincoln Road, Miami

Now I am really confused – what's good for Gap is not good for Apple? What part (of a payback?) am I missing? Can you explain to me this type of logic?