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 fa├žade
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.