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Tag Archives: recession

A sign of the economic times …..  my understanding is that the city is going to shut it down … bad for the image and all that.  (the chamber of commerce definitely does not approve). 



Perhaps another consequence of the recession.


It is possible to buy a house for $100 in Detroit these days.  This is an interesting article about an architect who is developing a neighborhood of such properties for artists.  He has been approached by a German developer who wants to build a “giant beehive” (?).    There is opportunity in the recession.


“I would hope that the current housing market developments will liberate people from ‘resale value’ thinking, and allow them to engage in a serious conversation with their architects and builders about what constitutes true quality. Quality of life is measured in many more years and much greater pleasure than how best to sell one’s home as quickly as possible to the highest bidder. While reduced leverage among homeowners may make for smaller and fewer projects, it may also mean that those projects are more sincerely considered and more deeply appreciated.”

—Lynnette Widder, aardvarchitecture, New York City, and head, Department of Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, R.I


“With this real estate situation, the first thing to go is the garden, since the mortgage crisis is putting people in apartments. Look at the pictures of houses in foreclosure; none of them have gardens. Americans don’t like to go outside anyway. Even my clients who have beautiful gardens are afraid there might be a bug, or it’s too hot or too cold. People will certainly downsize to afford the mortgage. They won’t build these lavish kitchens they never cook in. They don’t even make coffee in their kitchens. I’ve had many clients who, when I visited them in the mornings, were on their way to Starbucks.”

— James van Sweden, FASLA, Oehme, van Sweden & Associates, Washington, D.C.



Although the market looks very dire now, it offers a chance to break out of the free-market orthodoxy that hasn’t produced money for anyone and produced terrible architecture, for the most part. The real indictment of the current arrangement is that housing has failed even as a piece of free-market economics—its failure as architecture is all too obvious. Having been lectured and patronized by developers for the last decade, designers can now say, ‘And you guys didn’t even know how to make money.’

I hope we will now design houses that are:

    a) not seen as financial vehicles;
    b) environmentally sound; and
    c) beautiful.

We won’t make money from housing, but hopefully we will:

    a) not lose too much money, either, in a downturn;
    b) save the planet; and
    c) create a place of beauty worth any amount of money (just ask people who live in central Paris).”

—Alain de Botton, architectural critic and writer, London

An architectural firm in NYC, who has recently laid off several architects, paid people $70 per hour to sit at desks and pretend to be employees while an important potential client toured the office.

This is fairly common practice, at least in NYC.  I’ve done it a couple of times myself. 


Given the economic reality, smaller homes will be a major trend.  But this may be taking it to the extreme.



An article on the site   The Recession has hit Dubai.

Depression 2.0 ?