Bathroom’s Most Wanted

Linen closets are the most-desired feature in a master bathroom for homebuyers, according to new survey data from the National Association of Home Builders.

Approximately 78 percent of homebuyer respondents in the NAHB’s 2019 What Home Buyers Really Want report say that a linen closet in the master bathroom is desirable or an essential feature. Having "both a shower stall and tub in the master bath," and having a double vanity were both home features that at least 70 percent of survey respondents said were desirable or a must-have. These two features each garnered 32 percent "must-have" scores, the highest in the study.

Never Short On Space

Home prices are high, inventories are shallow, and personal savings are rising, which is leading everyone to say 2019 is the year of remodeling. People are choosing to stay in their homes and elevate the space, rather than sell it and buy a new one.

Built-in storage is a reflection of that – today’s designs demand less clutter without sacrificing space. It’s a real challenge, because storage itself takes up room, and so to have one without the other would initially seem paradoxical. Done right, built-in features can bridge the gap between saving space and creating storage.

Pro Remodeler

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What Worries a Billionaire Today? Protecting Priceless Art From Flying Champagne Corks on Their Superyachts

A new course teaches crew members how to care for blue-chip art collections on the high seas.

How do you protect your blue-chip art on board a yacht? It’s a problem only the privileged few face, but it’s apparently a growing problem nonetheless.

The British billionaire collector Joe Lewis reportedly keep Francis Bacon’s Triptych (1974-77) aboard his yacht, docked in London, while the deputy prime minister of the UAE, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, is thought to keep several hundred works of art on his, according to Bloomberg

So what do they do when a wayward champagne cork flies or some seawater splashes aboard? That’s where art historian and conservator Pandora Mather-Lees comes in. Mather-Lees told the Guardian that she first set out to help billionaires properly store art on their boats after getting a call from a collector whose prized $110.5 millionJean-Michel Basquiat painting was damaged while on his yacht.

“His kids had thrown their cornflakes at it over breakfast because they thought it was scary,” she told the Guardian. “And the crew had made the damage worse by wiping them off the painting.”

In response, Mather-Lees started offering a specialized course (which costs €295 per day) for yacht crew members. Crews are often well-equipped to deal with an array nautical situations, but not art conservation. In the case of her client, the crew “had no idea [the Basquiat] was worth many millions,” she told the paper. “Now the rich are increasingly bringing their art collections on board their yachts and it’s vital that captains and crew know how to care for these pieces.”

Yachts don’t have to be hostile environments for art, however. “Something people always say to me is ‘why on earth would you carry art on yachts?’” National Maritime Museum conservator Helen Robertson told the Guardian. Modern superyachts are packed with technology and “can be very controllable. Systems for temperature and humidity can surpass those you would find in galleries.”

Henri Neuendorf, February 4, 2019


Florence Knoll Bassett, Pioneer of American Office Design, Dies at 101

American designer Florence Knoll Bassett passed away on January 25, 2018 in Coral Cables, Florida. She was 101.

David E. Bright, spokesman for Knoll Inc., announced her passing. Knoll Bassett and her husband Hans Knoll ran the company for many years together, beginning in the 1940s. She had a large hand in the creative vision of Knoll, started the Knoll Planning Unit, and directed the design of the company’s iconic furniture, textiles, and graphics.

Knoll Bassett studied under Mies van der Rohe at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, and collaborated with Isamu Noguchi and Alexander Girard, among others, during a pivotal time in the development of American Modern design.

“We’re like art dealers,” Knoll Bassett said of discovering new designers for Knoll. “We want fresh, original work. And we want it from anyone who can produce it.”

In 1961, Knoll Bassett became the first woman recipient of the Gold Medal for Industrial Design from AIA. In 2003, she received the highest award for artistic excellence in America, the National Medal of Arts.

By Kristie Garrell

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The Cocktail Napkin Sketch

Designers are creative beings who can easily find inspiration at any moment. A napkin sketch is an elemental expression of thought. Napkin sketches have been a go-to companion for those who find spur of the moment inspiration allowing for the exploration of thoughts and ideas with their hands. You can express primal feelings, a memory, even a philosophy. It’s a telling exercise about how people think, what is important to them, and the spirit of their thoughts.

Sketches also promote the sharing of ideas at a pure, conceptual level without becoming mired in detail and specifics. And this sketch represents my thoughts of a series of brightly stuccoed walls and canopy for a public garden. A pedestrian can walk between and around the walls and seek refuge from rain beneath the canopy.

Napkin Sketch

Napkin Sketch

Remodeling Spending Gains Falling Back to Average

By the end of 2019, remodeling spending in the U.S. is expected to slow down to a 5.1 percent annual growth rate, down 2.4 percent from 2018’s rate.

The data come from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University's (JCHS) latest release of Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA). Chris Herbert, JCHS managing director, said in a statement, “Slowing house price appreciation, flat home sales activity, and rising mortgage interest rates are deflating owners’ interest in making major investments in home improvements this year,” adding, “Continued slowdowns in home building, sales of building materials, and remodeling permits all point to a more challenging environment for home remodeling in 2019.”

“Despite the growing headwinds, improvement and repair spending is still set to expand this year to over $350 billion,” says Abbe Will, Associate Project Director in the Remodeling Futures Program at JCHS. “But after several years of stronger-than-average increases, the pace of growth in remodeling activity is expected to fall back to the market’s historical average annual gain of 5.2 percent.”

Industry Data + Research

Contemporary Shed Dormers on Colonial Home

Contemporary Shed Dormers on Colonial Home

South America bloc’s woes leave architectural gem forlorn

SAN ANTONIO DE PICHINCHA, Ecuador (AP) — It’s a gravity-defying edifice that befits the lofty ambitions of what was supposed to be a symbol of South American unity.

Set against an arid moonscape on the equatorial line, two cantilevered glass wings soar dramatically above a reflecting pool, symbolizing freedom and transparency and looking like something out of a science-fiction movie.

But for all its architectural grandeur, the headquarters of the Union of South American Nations outside Ecuador’s capital seems as moribund as the group itself. What was once an aspiring diplomatic hub bustling with official translators and cocktail parties for visiting dignitaries looks more like a ghost building, with barely half the staff it had when it was inaugurated to great fanfare in 2014.

Designed by Ecuadorian architect Diego Guayasamin, the $43 million building was built and donated to the group by former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, a protege of Chavez.

The prize-winning building, 75 percent of which is underground, is equipped with a state-of-the-art assembly hall, an impressive art collection and salons named for leftist icons like Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Just like in public buildings in socialist-ruled Venezuela, Chavez’s bright-red signature and fiery citations dominate the hallways.


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The Surprising Versatility of Stainless Steel

Few building materials can match the aesthetic and structural qualities of stainless steel. Consider the Chrysler Building, for example. The stainless steel roof finial of the Art Deco masterpiece is still going strong after nearly 90 years. 

More recently, the material is enjoying a design renaissance as architects and designers apply its sleek aesthetic to light masks and masts, sunscreens, fencing, bollards, benches, railing infill, façade accents, air grilles, tree grates, entrance mats, and many other building components. 

Why the surge of interest?

A good person to ask is Wade Brown, sales manager and product expert at Construction Specialties, a manufacturer of architectural building products with a 70-year legacy of offering a variety of aluminum and stainless steel product applications. The scale and customized application of stainless steel’s rebirth fascinates him.

“Stainless steel as a design accent for façades, landscaping, and building interiors has exploded in the last five to six years. Architects now specify stainless steel in customized ways we’ve never seen before,” Brown says.

Why the transformation? “Stainless steel has a modern, clean, and monolithic aesthetic,” Brown says. “It’s also durable, requiring little to no maintenance, and it’s recyclable.”

Brought to you by Construction Specialties

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Legitimizing and Embracing Hip-Hop Architecture

Graffiti-lined walls featuring lyrics from hip-hop songs welcome visitors to New York’s Center for Architecture, currently exhibiting “Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture.” On view through Jan. 12, the exhibit showcases installations, completed buildings and proposed developments, façade studies, and academic work, to provide evidence for the existence and significance of hip-hop architecture, as influenced by the musical genre and cultural movement. 

"We’re uncovering examples of people creating art, understanding, and changing the built environment using hip-hop as their primary lens," exhibit curator and designer Sekou Cooke says.

Beginning with a brief history of hip-hop and its key means of expression—deejaying, emceeing, b-boying, and graffiti—"Close to the Edge" features work by 21 artists, designers, students, and professors including hip-hop architecture theorist and University of Michigan architecture lecturer Craig Wilkins; hip-hop architecture camp founder Michael Ford; and prominent 1980s graffiti artist Boris “Delta” Tellegen. 

"Hip-hop, the dominant cultural movement of our time, was established by the Black and Latino youth of New York’s South Bronx neighborhood in the early 1970s," an introductory panel reads. "Some 25 years in the making, hip-hop architecture is finally receiving widespread attention within the discipline of architecture." 

With graffiti tagging by famed artist Chino as a backdrop, much of the featured work is mounted on repurposed shipping containers. Exhibit highlights include a public housing brick façade designed by Delta in Haarlem, Netherlands, in 2013; Cooke's own "3D Turntables: Remixing Hip-Hop Architectural Technology;" and work by St. Paul,–Minn. based 4RM+ULA founder, James Garrett Jr., AIA.

by Katherine Keane

A new exhibit, “Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture” is on view at the Center for Architecture in New York until Jan. 12.

A new exhibit, “Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture” is on view at the Center for Architecture in New York until Jan. 12.

Home Building, By the Numbers

Planning to build a house? Here is where your money will go.

Finding a house that perfectly fits your needs can be challenging, to say the least. Chances are, you’ll have to compromise. 

A custom-built home, however, eliminates compromise: Not only will you get exactly what you want, the thinking goes, but you’ll have brand-new materials and systems that won’t need repair in the near future. But how much will it cost — and what will you really be paying for?

A recent survey of residential construction companies by the National Association of Home Builders broke down the cost of building every component of a home, including the builders’ markup and other overhead expenses that are ultimately reflected in the final price.

The results are based on the typical home built by those surveyed — a 2,776-square-foot house on a lot of about 0.4 acres — with a total cost to the buyer of $427,892. Of that amount, $190,132 covered the cost of the lot and the contractors’ overhead and profits.

By Michael Kolomatsky, New York Times

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