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Updated: 2017-12-14T17:48:30-05:00


‘Pioneering Women’ celebrates 50 architects and designers of the early 20th century



The practitioners were all born before 1940

The Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation has launched a website celebrating 50 women who have made significant contributions to the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professions between 1880 and 1980.

Marion Mahony Griffin was an international architect who often collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright.

Called “Pioneering Women of American Architecture,” the project presents a collection of profiles of architects, designers, critics, curators, and policymakers working in the built environment—including names like Ada Louise Huxtable, Ray Kaiser Eames, and Marion Mahony Griffin—all born before 1940, a time when women struggled to enter the profession and be recognized for their work.

Although the practitioners may not be household names, their work stands out not just for the range of styles their collective portfolios encompass, but also their scope, covering the gamut from urban planning and institutional buildings to interiors and furniture. Many of them were ahead of their time, too, designing utopian communities, tenement housing, “rational” kitchens, built-in storage, and solar homes.

Founded in 2012 by Wanda Bubriski and Beverly Willis and edited by co-directors Mary McLeod and Victoria Rosner, the site is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and serves as a special collection within the Dynamic National Archive of Women in Architecture. To learn more about the pioneering women, head to the website.

Ada Louise Huxtable was the first architecture critic at the New York Times.

This housing startup designed homes that grow with their owners


Module’s adjustable housing system offers a right-size solution for urban infill. When architect Brian Gaudio talks about Module, the Pittsburgh-based housing startup he cofounded in early 2016, he speaks the language of an excited techie. Module, an “operating system” for your home, creates spaces customized for every family. While it aims to provide new, more affordable, and more adjustable homes, the company doesn’t build, it offers a design and technology platform. A sense of optimism and possibility—perhaps cultivated during his time designing rides for Disney theme parks—is palpable. But ask Gaudio about the nuts and bolts of how Module homes get built, and he begins sounding like a realist, one that may be able do what the dozens of startups that have tried to make a real business out of building, affordable, high-tech modular or prefab homes have failed to accomplish. “We thought about how to work within the existing methods used by builders,” says Gaudio. “When we developed our wall system, we asked, ‘how does a general contractor, with relatively unskilled labor, build this house?’ We’re not here to bring NASA engineers on board to redesign the idea of home. This is about incremental innovation, and making a system that helps existing builders build better homes.” Module How the Module system allows a home to grow with its owner. “We’re not trying to disrupt the system of building. We’re trying to disrupt ideas of adaptability, design, and cost.” Module’s doesn’t want to be manufacturer, but rather design a system that informs future homebuilders, an easy-to-build, easy-to-expand housing product aimed at young adults. Informed by a housing personality quiz, buyers pick from one of three starter modules, which are built, in part, by an off-site partner, then assembled on site by a general contractor. Think of it like the Helix sleep of starter homes. But the real selling point is that the modules, assembled with a patent-pending wall and roof systems, easily connect to additional Module-designed rooms and add-ons, which help owners expand their homes like a set of Lego bricks as their needs, and families, grow. Working from home? Invest in a small studio addition. Want to make more money? Attach a module designed to be a rental unit. Gaudio and his co-founder Hallie Dumont were inspired by a passion for public interest design. Gaudio, who spent time volunteering in Biloxi, Mississippi, on post-Katrina housing, also won a Fulbright Scholarship, which allowed hime to travel and research cities and housing in Latin America. His work, which informed a documentary he made about housing, included an examination of the public housing designed by Pritzker-winning architect Alejandro Aravena. The Chilean architect’s design for incremental, affordable housing, which allows owners to built onto basic frames, influenced the Module concept src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> The Module system is the co-founders answers to their country’s housing challenges, including affordability, blight, and the labor shortage among homebuilders that’s driving up the cost of construction. Most of the big-name suburban builders are putting out product that’s too large and doesn’t cater to today’s young homebuyers, says Gaudio. The market needs a dynamic system that offers the “right amount of space for today” and an adaptable and affordable solution primed for urban infill. The system begins with one of three main modules: a 640 square-foot unit with 1 bed and 1 bath called the Flat Top; The Tom and Jerry, a 1,280 square-foot unit with 2 beds and 2 baths fashioned for coliving; or the family-sized Moonlighter, another 2-bed, 2-bath option with two stories and more than 2,000 feet, depending on the floor plan. Module hasn’t released potential pricing plans yet: they’re exp[...]

The one that got away


An architecture critic reflects on Apple Park, the most-hyped building of 2017 If I were allowed to visit Apple Park, the first thing I would do is take off my shoes. In the most famous photographs of Steve Jobs, he sits, shoeless and cross-legged, on the hardwood floor of his Menlo Park bungalow, lit by the glow of a Tiffany lamp. The implication is simultaneously that he is above material things and that only the best will do. Why have an ugly sofa for the sake of having a sofa? Particularly when you have such a nice floor. Barefoot, you feel the world through your feet. You are far more connected to texture, to transition, to temperature, without resorting to running your fingers along a wall, or leaving sweaty handprints on pristine surfaces. Apple Park, so they say, has been designed to be seamless: the office building is a circle; the Hilltop Theater, a glass cylinder; the four-story, 440,000 pound glass doors slide noiselessly; a white-tile tunnel takes you to your car. Once you’re inside, nothing should interrupt your progress or disrupt the view. Glass fins protect the glass walls from unsightly streaking. Dan Frommer The triumph of Apple Park, it would seem, is in these obsessive details, which elevate it above the common sorrows of architecture (that concrete pour that went wonky, that threshold that won’t lie flat) and into the realm of product design. Small things can be perfect, big things cannot, they are just too much. Unless, it seems, you have the money of Jobs. In 2017, I wanted to experience this mirage for myself. But so far, Apple has let in journalists only to ooh and aah, not to pick or contextualize. They want you to admire the glass back of the new iPhone 8 but not drop it. I would take this highly aesthetic approach, the soft creep of the connoisseur, because the obvious critique of Apple Park—using a macro lens—was already written before the campus opened its ultra-clear doors. It is retrograde. It is anti-urban. It is greenwashed. It may even be bad office politics. From the moment Jobs presented his spaceship to the Cupertino City Council, the Spielbergian rendering produced a series of appraisals that the construction of the real object has done nothing to overturn. Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge Absent an invitation, critics have taken Apple Park to task from afar, relying on the renderings, the drone videos, the rumors. And the chorus is not saying anything different than what I and many others (including Paul Goldberger, Christopher Hawthorne, and Mimi Zeiger) have been saying for years. One might also dip into architectural historian Louise Mozingo’s excellent book, Pastoral Capitalism, on where low-lying modernist office parks come from. It is deeply boring to rewrite oneself. It is also deeply boring to have a building present itself, on the surface, as no different from its six-year-old rendering. I wrote about this phenomenon in 2011, just after Jobs’s initial announcement of the project: Apple's ring reminds me of something else. And it isn't the future. It is 1957. That was the year Skidmore, Owings & Merrill completed the Connecticut General Life Insurance Headquarters in Bloomfield, a suburb of Hartford. Sure, it is a box rather than a ring, but the concept is strikingly similar: an inward-looking, hermetic, heterotopic corporate world. An architecturally distinguished, technologically advanced retreat from the city, one complete enough to include its own grounds, its own restaurant, its own artworks, its own store, its own bowling alley, and its own clubs. Employees weaned from urban life by recreating its social qualities outside the city. But obviously, for employees only.… My colleague Alissa Walker asked (and so far the answer to all of her questions is “no”): Is Apple going to make the grounds open to the public so they can enjoy the fifty billion trees that he’ll be planting? Will there be any kind of programming in the new auditor[...]

23 dreamy A-frame cabins we love



You may not own an A-frame, but you can dream

An architectural icon from 1950 to about 1975, the A-frame is one of the most beloved vacation homes of the past, a triangle-design built for lounging on outdoor decks and staring at nature. A-frames can come in any size, and in today’s Instagram-obsessed world, they’re experiencing a resurgence in popularity.

Maybe it’s because they perform as marketable Airbnbs or perhaps it’s because an A-frame’s peaked roof just begs to be photographed, but scroll through the pages of accounts like Cabin Porn on Tumblr or @cabinlove on Instagram and you’ll find plenty of A-frames to covet.

Throw in a few falling flakes and a cozy fire and you have a near perfect winter dream. We’ve rounded up 23 gorgeous photos of A-frames, from lakeside stunners to snowbound charmers. You may not own an A-frame, but you can dream.

A Christmas tree of windows:

Tax bill: Final compromise goes easy on housing measures


The House bill came down hard, but the final bill more resembles the Senate proposal Congressional Republicans announced Wednesday that they’ve reached a deal on reconciling the House and Senate tax reform bills, putting the most sweeping tax bill since 1986 on the brink of passage. A vote could come as early as next week. While details of the compromise have yet to be released, it appears the final bill will more resemble the Senate’s tax reform bill than the House’s. That’s good news for proponents of many of the housing measures in the tax code, as the House bill came down hard on state and local tax (SALT) deductions, the mortgage interest deduction (MID), and affordable housing. Still, virtually all of the tax benefits related to housing will be diminished either directly or indirectly by the two biggest changes in the bill — lowering the corporate tax rate and doubling the standard deduction. Taxpayers can either itemize deductions or take the standard deduction. The bill would raise the standard deduction from $6,250 for individuals and $12,700 for married couples to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for couples. The Tax Policy Center estimates this will cause the number of taxpayers who itemize to drop from 45 million to 18 million, which means fewer people taking the SALT or MID. The SALT deductions, which allow taxpayers to deduct the property and income taxes they pay to states and cities from their federal returns, will be capped at $10,000. The House bill had repealed SALT deductions in their entirety. This would affect mostly wealth people in blue states. The MID, which allows taxpayers to deduct mortgage interest on loans up to $1 million, was capped at $500,000 in the House bill but was untouched in the Senate bill. The two chambers have split the difference in the final bill, dropping the cap to $750,000. This also would affect wealthy property owners in coastal states, but such a minor change likely will have little impact. The House bill repealed the estate tax in its entirety after 2024, but the Senate’s proposal to double the exemption from $5.5 million to $11 million won out. This means estates passed down to family members will face a 40 percent tax on the value of the estate in excess of $11 million. Affordable housing built using the Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) will take hit because of the drop in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. This simply diminishes the value of the credits and thus the amount of equity that can be raised for development projects that agree to include low-income housing units. But the program dodged the most lethal bullet of the two bills. The House bill eliminated tax-exempt private activity bonds, which are used in financing a third of all LIHTC units. The Senate bill retained them, and so does the the compromise bill. The status of the Historic Tax Credit (HTC), which was also repealed in the House bill, was unclear at the time of publication. HTCs have raised $117 billion in private investment to renovate more than 40,000 structures since the program’s inception in 1981. [...]

The history of Philadelphia’s trinity houses


Georgian architecture in a tiny package Welcome back to Period Dramas, a weekly column that alternates between rounding up historic homes on the market and answering questions we’ve always had about older structures. Editor's Note: This post was originally published in March 2017 and has been updated with the most recent information. With roots in the 17th century, when founder William Penn laid out its urban plan, Philadelphia is one of America’s oldest cities. Penn—who grew up in England—hated London’s cramped streets, so he devised a gridded city with the help of land surveyor Thomas Holme. The plan gave each house land and distance from its neighbors, creating what Penn called a “greene country towne.” Think the benefits of city life with the pastoral beauty of the country. The layout, although idyllic, left swaths of unused land between houses. While that was the point, the plan didn’t accommodate Philadelphia in the 18th century, when its population rose. To meet the new housing demands, the larger blocks were subdivided, adding alleyways and smaller streets running between the main avenues. Courtesy of Creative Commons. William Penn’s original plan for Philadelphia. Townhouses went up in these spaces to maximize housing. Meanwhile, builders bought up the cheaper land along the inner alleyways to build modest townhouses for the city’s lower-income population. The houses were built out of brick in the Georgian style, which was popularized in England following the Great Fire of London in 1666, when wood construction was abandoned for fire-resistant brick. These townhouses, which were generally three stories in height, came to be known as “trinity houses,” which both referred to the three-levels of the house as well as the holy Catholic trinity of “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Via Creative Commons A cluster of trinity houses on Elfreth’s Alley. Trinity houses, characteristically, have one room per floor. The rooms joined by a small winding staircase to form a house that generally clocks in at 1,000 square feet or less. While some trinity houses have been lost to modern development, a number of them still exist. In fact, many of Philadelphia’s most picturesque streets—like Old City’s Elfreth’s Alley—are almost entirely made up of trinity houses, which have gained new popularity thanks to the tiny house movement. These houses aren’t just a part of American architectural history—some of them are for sale, too. Here are a few of our favorite trinity houses on the market right now. Via Zillow. Via Zillow. Via Zillow. 308 S Iseminger Street (2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, $310,000) Of course, there were variations on the trinity house. One such variation is the “bandbox,” the most modest version of the trinity. Bandbox houses were generally constructed on the smaller alleyways tucked off the main streets. They are also generally no more than 16-feet wide. This charming fixer-upper is a typical example of one such house. While small, the house retains much of its original character, with multiple fireplaces and wide-plank floors in the 819-square-foot townhouse. The house needs to be updated—we wouldn’t be surprised if the fireplaces need to be restored to working order, and the kitchen could use a refresh—but that just means it’s ripe for any old-house lover not afraid of a project! Via Zillow. Via Zillow. Via Zillow. 221 S Sartain Street (2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, $325,000) While we love the living room hearth and wide-plank floors of this classic trinity, there’s no denying that it’s in need of some love. The wooden floors are covered in red paint, the fireplace doesn’t look like it works, and it seems like an air conditi[...]

Dramatic desert modern home asks $1.2M in Arizona


Situated on over 5 acres in Cave Creek Have a nomination for a jaw-dropping listing that would make a mighty fine House of the Day? Get thee to the tipline and send us your suggestions. We'd love to see what you've got. Location: Cave Creek, Arizona Price: $1,199,000 Another stunning example of desert modernism by architect William P. Bruder, FAIA, is on the market, this time in Cave Creek, Arizona, 27 miles northeast of Phoenix. Completed in 2005, the Pond House is so-named for its 5.67-acre riverbank site, where a sometimes swimming hole feeds a river, or stands still as a pond, or, in dry times, acts as “a rememberance of water.” Situated on a rocky outcrop, the home measures just around 1,600 square feet, but its generous expanses of glass and unique architecture create a sanctuary that is at once intimate and dramatic. Two bedrooms, two baths, and an open living area with direct access to and views of the surrounding landscape by way of a large deck are arranged across a split-level floorplan. Natural materials, different textures, and volumes characterize the broad A-frame-esque roofline, while colored strips of glass usher in the dynamism of the Arizona’s natural beauty inside. Weathered steel detailing furthers the narrative of the residence’s desert riparian setting. Located at 5115 E. Rockaway Hills Drive, it’s offered at $1.199 million. Courtesy of AZ Architecture (h/t Estately) [...]

Housing inventory tumbles nationwide, says new Trulia report



Year-over-year supply has dropped 10 percent.

If you’re a buyer having trouble finding a home, you’re not alone. According to a new Trulia report released today, the U.S. home inventory decreased 10.5 percent this quarter compared to the same period last year. That’s the largest drop in inventory since the second quarter of 2013.

Take starter homes, a market that’s been challenged by supply disparities for years. The number of available properties in this price range nationwide, which has a median price of $178,034, has dropped year-over-year, from roughly 293,000 units at the close of 2016 to 237,000 at the end of 2017.

As inventory tumbles for homes at all price levels, especially premium units in tech hubs like San Jose and San Francisco, the overall balance between affordable and premium homes is increasingly favoring high-end property. The share of premium homes as a percentage of the total available homes rose from 51 to 53 percent in the last year.

Homes at all levels were “the most unaffordable on record,” according to Trulia data. The company’s research suggests that prospective homebuyers will have to pay 39.8 percent of their monthly income for starter homes, 25.5 percent of their monthly income for trade-up homes (median list price of $302,893) and 14 percent for premium homes (median list price of $631,358).

The intertwined drop in inventory and rise in prices is making homeownership increasingly difficult. “If this trend persists,” the report notes, “the market will become more and more saturated with homes that are unaffordable to even the top income brackets.”

Trulia’s year-end survey hints at some reasons for optimism, despite shrinking inventory: one in three Americans think next year will be better for selling a home than 2017, and 16 percent plan to sell their home in the next two years. Many homeowners will have to put their properties on the market to push up those dwindling inventory figures.

How to negotiate the sale price of your dream home


With the right team and a few intelligent strategies, that slightly over-budget property could be yours Savvy home buyers crunch the numbers and know exactly how much money they can offer on their dream house. But what do you do if the asking price comes in slightly over budget, by about $25,000 more, for instance, than what you can realistically afford? This dilemma comes up often during a house hunt, but the right agent will help you negotiate a price that’s right for you. With the right team and a few intelligent strategies, that slightly over-budget property could be yours. Curbed spoke with buyers agents and an instructor with the Real Estate Negotiation Institute on the art of negotiation. Find the right broker With the proliferation of online marketplaces, it’s no longer the broker’s role to find your property. Instead, a broker’s job is to work with you to come up with the “strongest possible offer for your home,” as Triplemint broker Greg Vladi puts it. “Your agent should serve as your negotiation advisor.” It’s crucial, then, to interview agents about their experience in negotiating asking prices before you move ahead with your search. “You’ll want to ask any agent about their process, their approach, their tactics, if there’s a methodology to how they’re negotiating,” says Mike Walker, of the Real Estate Negotiation Institute. “If there’s no method, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a bad agent, but their negotiation skills aren’t as honed as other’s would be.” Know the market How much room you have to negotiate depends heavily on the market you’re shopping in. “The biggest challenge is that a broker doesn’t always educate a buyer about where they are buying into,” says Ban Leow, an agent with Halstead. He points out that in competitive markets, sales prices vary significantly block by block, depending on the quality of the housing stock and proximity to amenities or public transit. There are also larger factors to consider, from inventory levels to interest rates. Your broker should be adept at understanding both the big picture and micro details that contribute to housing demand. If demand is high in a particular neighborhood, negotiating with the seller won’t be as effective. But a good broker will help you read the market. You might see 40 people at an open house, Leow says, but it’s the broker who should know the market climate and be able to read whether the prospective buyers are gearing up for a bidding war or looking with less urgency. Understand your opposition “In negotiation environments, studies show that the parties with the most success have the most information about their opponents, as opposed to walking into something completely blind,” says Walker. It’s not war, but you want your broker to figure out the appetite for any given property, as well as existing offers on the table. “The buyer’s broker should always be peppering the seller’s broker with questions, asking if they have any other offers” says Vladi. “I never submit an offer without calling the [seller’s] agent to see if I can get any information to help us.” If there are no other offers on the table, negotiations can go farther. Sunny Eckerle In competitive markets, get creative If demand is high in your market and you’re competing with multiple offers, consider negotiating beyond the asking price. “When you walk into a sale, you’re automatically focused on price,” says Walker. “But a lot of people don’t understand how many options of value can be exchanged between each party.” You may not offer the highest bid, for example, but maybe you can offer a high deposit of “earnest money,” which is made to a seller showing your good faith in the transaction. If a seller is looking to quickly offl[...]

Take a break from minimalism with this outrageous new hotel



The latest from Marcel Wanders does not disappoint

In our era of stark minimalism and clutter-free micro homes, the utterly outlandish, over-the-top aesthetic of Marcel Wanders can feel like a breath of fresh air. A Dutch interior and product designer, Wanders is known for his signature warped-fantasy style filled with color, pattern, and oversized elements that tend give off an Alice in Wonderland vibe.

Wanders’ latest interior—the recently opened Mondrian Hotel in Doha, Qatar—is another stunner filled with enormous bell-shaped lights, bulbous all-white trees, hundreds of gold-framed mirrors, oversized patterns, and golden eggs just chillin’ on some columns.


Wanders began this design process by exploring traditional Arabic patterns and images from the Middle Eastern folktales collected in One Thousand and One Nights. Then he did his thing transforming those ideas into extravagant interiors.


"Conceptually, we have married local culture with a modern design aesthetic,” said Wanders. “While many themes are collectively layered throughout the hotel, each individual space tells its own tale."


A nearly all-white lounge features seating clusters placed atop carpets with photorealistic images of flowers. Between those seating groups rise glossy white trees. In the main lobby, a beautifully sinister-looking black staircase corkscrews its way up several stories to a viewing platform. And above the 27th-floor swimming pool is a massive stained glass dome that gives off the feeling of being inside a Tiffany lamp.


Via: Dezeen