Posts Tagged ‘Economy’

general_motors_building.jpg$3 billion-one, $3 billion-two, and $3 billion- its is. A building to sell for $3 billion does sound insane but this insanity is nearing to become a reality. Larry Silverstein, developer of ground zero, has bid $3 billion for General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue, in the Manhattan District in New York.

Indeed, with its commanding view of Central Park and its Fifth Avenue address, the building is a trophy property and a symbol of New York corporate power since General Motors moved its boardroom and some 3,300 employees there 40 years ago. Since then, though, G.M.’s presence has shrunk to three floors from 26, and its contractual naming rights for the property expire in 2010.


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This week in news we find two of Frank Gehry’s projects declared obsolete- Winton Guest House in Minnesota, and Santa Monica Place mall in Santa Monica.

In early 2007, the University of California, Irvine, razed one of his buildings—a computer science center—to make way for a new engineering complex, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported at the time.Winton House

Mike and Penny Winton, the original clients of Winton Guest House, sold the guest house as well as their main residence, a 1954-vintage house by famous architect Philip Johnson, to Kirt Woodhouse, a real estate developer, in 2002. Woodhouse divided the 12-acre property into three separate lots, and was able to sell Johnson-designed residence but not one by Gehry’s . It stayed on the market for too long with no buyers.


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New York HotelsIs it fair for one architect to design 36 hotels in a prestigious urban district like Manhattan, especially when New York is home to some of the finest architects and designers of the world?

Architect Gene Kaufman is designing 36 hotels in Manhattan, including three that will share a single building on West 39th Street near Times Square, right, and three more on West 40th Street.

The developer of most of Mr. Kaufman’s projects is the McSam Hotel Group, which is based in Great Neck, N.Y. Its chief operating officer, Gary Wisinski, said Mr. Kaufman “has a wonderful and deep knowledge of Manhattan, and is well respected at the Buildings Department.”

Fred A. Bernstein of New York Times reports the architecture design trends diverting from aesthetics to economics in Manhattan.

What he brings to the table, he said, is the ability to maximize the number of hotel rooms on a given site. Recently, he said, a client showed him another architect’s plans for a hotel in Lower Manhattan; Mr. Kaufman was able to alter the plans to squeeze in 25 percent more rooms. In the current market, a mid-range Manhattan hotel room — typically 250 square feet — is worth $400,000 to $500,000 to the developer.

To hoteliers, Mr. Kaufman provides entree into the sui generis Manhattan market. But to architecture and to the city of New York, is he providing compromised aesthetics suppressed by self-centered motives of a few businessmen?

Read on: In Hotel Design, He’s Mr. Prolific

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Recession is the word nobody wishes to hear. But here it is. Economy has to go full cycle- it now has to heal itself after leaps of growth. Panic will spread. Will architects’ world feel the tremors of the recession that is going to brace the country in 2008?

Ned Cramer, editor-in-chief of ARCHITECT and ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING, advises to Resist the Urge to join the panic procession.

The profession’s learned a lot since the recession of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when giant firms laid off people by the hundreds. For one thing, large and small practices today are alive to the benefits of a diversified portfolio. The strategy is practically a business-world cliché at this point, but it seems to work. In the coming months, the going will get toughest for firms that haven’t diversified—particularly, given the subprime situation, those that specialize in single- and multifamily housing.

Layoffs may be inevitable. But it does not cost a fortune to keep talent happy and pumped up till it is boom time again.

Read on: Resist the Urge on ARCHITECTONLINE

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