Archives for January 2012

Can’t we just all get along?

modern classic

This is one of my favorite places in Montreal. For me, the contrast in architecture serves as a metaphor for society. We all come from different places, perspectives and philosophies. We must find a way to live together.

I have taken for granted where I grew up. The world inhabits the streets of Montreal. Though not nirvana, it is a place where we find a way to live together in harmony. Just like this historic church and modern business do.

Respect for others is key to living in a society. When we learn about each other, we might just find that there is much more to this world than what we originally thought.

Your thoughts?

Home Ownership & Home Affordability

Real-Estate-PuzzleLast week I had the opportunity to hear one of the premier economists on the West Coast, Matthew Gardner. Each time I listen to him, I come away more educated, and because I provide real estate services in the greater Seattle area, encouraged.

In regards to homeownership in our area, the data below would suggest that we are in good shape in the Puget Sound.


The homeownership rate is reversing toward it’s historic norms. Excluding owners who haven’t made a payment in a year, it is currently at  62%.


If we believe that there was a “Normal” market back in the 1990’s, then it is conceivable that prices should be higher.


Here are Matthew’s conclusions.

• Prices Will Start to Solidify this Year

• Overly Stringent Financing constraining the Market

• 4-County Area Listings are Down 17% but Sales are Up 12%

• Faster Drop Off in Foreclosures in 2012

• Positive Price Growth in 2012 (1.6%).Conclusions

• Local Prices are down by 15.8% but Non-REO prices are down by 9%

• Limited Income Growth will Slow Home Value Appreciation

• Homeowners, as opposed to investors, would rather wait to pay a higher price than admit to their friends that they bought too soon!

• Recovery Will Be Unequal.



Las Palmeras is a breathtaking project by Greg Wright Architects. These 2 holiday houses on the coastline of Peru which sit prominently at the top of a rock cliff overlooking the beach and ocean, are anchored into the rock with a stone sculptural plinth rising up to the living levels, concealing a basement floor below.





Will 2012 See a Housing Turnaround?

Despite mixed results in the housing sector, many homebuilder stocks are outperforming the overall market by a large margin.

A new report released Thursday showed that U.S. housing starts in December were worse than expected, posting a 4.1 percent decline after rising 9.1 percent in November.

On the other side of the spectrum, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) announced last week that its housing market index beat expectations and rose to its highest level in 4 and a half years.

Following last week’s positive news, the PHLX Housing Sector Index closed at an 11-month high of 117.56.

Could all this be perceived as the dawn of a recovery for the country’s battered housing market?

The verdict is still out. Confidence remains low from a historical perspective, although the numbers show the HGX is off to its best start ever this year — up more than 14 percent.

Nonetheless, the HGX has ended four of the past six years in negative territory, witnessing its worst loss in 2008 when the index closed down more than 40 percent.  Will this be the year of a turnaround in housing?

Will 2012 See a Housing Turnaround?” was provided by

The Energy-Hungry House


click image for a larger view

The Mahler Project: Setting The Stage


When a piece requires two orchestras and sixteen choirs to perform a piece, there’s far more to setting the stage than simply throwing up a few music stands and some extra chairs.

This time lapse video of Walt Disney Concert Hall being readied for a performance of Mahler’s Symphony no. 8 by the LA Philharmonic and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela should definitely appeal to the techies out there who never get the due they deserve once the curtain goes up.

Best places to live car-free

For households that choose not to own a personal vehicle, urban centers that provide public transportation systems and amenities like retail stores, schools, and entertainment within close distance can be ideal places to live and work.

24/7 Wall St. compiled a list of the top 10 best places to reside, sans automobile:

  • Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH (#10)
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Denver-Aurora, CO
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
  • Honolulu, HI
  • New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA
  • Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA (#1)

These cities, out of the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S, ranked highest for the following criteria — percentage of neighborhoods covered by public transit, frequency of service to those areas, the number of jobs reachable within 90 minutes or less by public transit, and the “walk score” (the number that indicates accessibility to amenities by foot).

100 Years Visualized


click image for larger view

Seamless Bathroom: Curved Fixtures Defy Corners & Edges

Keeping a bathroom clean can be difficult, to say the least. What if you had no edges to work with, though – and only curves, instead?

That is the driving design idea behind this series of standing and wall-mounted toilets, sinks and other bathroom fixtures from Art-Tic.

Each piece splays outward at its ends, creating the illusion of a continuous surface connecting with a concrete floor or smooth-finished wall.

Handles, shelves and faucets bend to the whim of the curvilinear theme. If it works as well in reality as it appears on paper, one could imagine simply spraying down the entire space as needed.