Real Estate Trends to Watch for in 2017

PricewaterhouseCoopers and Urban Land Institute just released their annual Emerging Trends in Real Estate report for 2017. The report, based on interviews and surveys with industry experts, focused on three game-changers:

1). Limited housing inventory and the lack of affordable middle-class housing are top concerns for real estate professionals.

2) Labor shortages are inflating construction costs. The problem isn’t going away,  but vocational training and apprenticeships, as well as potential immigration reform may help ease the problem.

3) New technologies are having favorable effects, including innovations that make buildings smarter and more efficient, and augmented reality (AR) technologies that improve collaboration between builders, architects and developers during the construction process.

Trending Now: Architectural Tourism

Architectural Tourism could take you to Nanjing, China, where you can savor large scale architecture forms with tranquil and contemplative gardens.

Culinary tourism (delicious); historical tourism (educational); medical tourism (not so fun); tourism for singles (mega-fun for some); art museum tourism (a visual treat); TV tourism (see the “real” Downton Abbey.)

Why not architectural tourism? For devotees of innovative, cutting edge architectural design, the world is your oyster.

The following is a mere snapshot of the architectural tourism opportunities worldwide.

In Copenhagen, Denmark, ski slope meets waste disposal at Amager Bakke​.

The The Amager Resource Centre, Photo: Bjarke Ingels Group

The Amager Resource Centre. Photo: Bjarke Ingels Group

The Amager Resource Centre has been converting waste to energy since the 1970s, and next year will give residents a place to burn their energy – on its roof, which is being converted into a ski slope and green space for mountaineering and walking. The project is the brainchild of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) ( who also brought the world LEGO House  (….another stop on the architectural appreciation tour.

A view of the riverside facade of MAAT Photo Credit: HUFTON + CROW

A view of the riverside facade of MAAT. Photo: HUFTON + CROW

In Lisbon, Portugal the brand new Museum of Art Architecture & Technology opens October 5th. Designed by Amanda Levete of AL_A in London, a light-infused, undulating low-lying structure on the Tagus River.

In Nanjing, China the Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center is a metropolis-scale urban development that will be complete in 2017, but there is already a lot to see.  An ongoing project for the Chinese architecture firm MAD, it will have a central valley, a lake, an elevated plaza, and other features that cultivate the traditional Chinese ethos of feng shui — a spiritual harmony between nature and humanity. It will span 6.5 million square feet.

Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center Photo Courtesy of MAD Architects

Nanjing Zendai Himalayas Center. Photo: MAD Architects

Costa Rica Congress Hall Photo: Courtesy of Caza

Costa Rica Congress Hall. Photo: Courtesy of Caza

In San Jose, Costa Rica, the Costa Rica Congress Hall designed by Caza – a Brooklyn-based firm — connected a series of hypercubes to create a modular government building, which features a platform for public demonstrations.




The Abu Dhabi Louvre. Photo: Ateliers Jean Nouvel

The Abu Dhabi Louvre. Photo: Ateliers Jean Nouvel

In Abu Dhabi, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will open in 2017. Brought to you by the architecture firm Ateliers Jean Nouvel, the museum will be one of five on Saadiyat Island designed by other giants of architecture — Hadid,Ando, Gehry and Foster.

In New York, ultra-skinny residential towers are reaching for the stars, transforming the city’s skyline. The following architects, each name as big and tall as their creations, are causing a sensation: Zaha Hadid (520 West 28th St) Isay Weinfeld (527 West 27th St); David Chipperfield (16 West 40th St); BIG (625 West 57th St); Herzog & de Meuron (57 Leonard St); Foster + Partners (100 East 53rd St) You can easily map a city tour to admire all these new properties.

Zaha Hadid's residential skyscraper in New York 

Zaha Hadid’s residential skyscraper in New York

And this is just the new, latest, greatest architecture. If you want a memorable tour of American iconic architecture consider Chicago, long a laboratory of innovation and a showcase for great architecture. October 15-16 in Chicago you can tour “200 cool places in 48 hours” – over 200 buildings, hidden gems and architectural treasures will be open to the public for a behind the scenes tour; the free event is hosted by the Chicago Architectural Foundation. And while you’re in Chicago, if you haven’t done the architectural river tour, it’s a must.

Another rich landscape for architectural tourism is Los Angeles — from the Hollywood Bowl to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Los Angeles’s skyline might not be as famous as Chicago’s or New York’s, but there are some seriously iconic buildings.

Passive Design Projects Worldwide Drive Global Energy Savings

Heidelberg Village in Germany will be the largest residential Passive Design project in the world.

Touted as “the world’s largest passive housing” project, a 162 unit residential complex is currently under construction in Heidelberg, Germany. The solar-powered Heidelberg Village designed by the Frey Architekten firm will feature a wide range of sustainable features, as well as rooftop and vertical gardens. The complex is expected to use 75% less energy than a similar project using conventional building design.

The Passive design concept originated in Germany in the 1990’s, and has now been embraced worldwide as an effective and economic way to cut carbon emissions and reduce energy demand in buildings while still providing high-caliber living comfort, superior indoor air quality and structural resilience. While the movement began with a residential focus, passive “house” building principles have been adopted in major commercial building projects as well, setting new standards for heating and cooling efficiency, total energy consumption and air leakage.

The Herman Teirlinch building is the largest Passive Design commercial project in Belgium. Photo: inhabitat

The Herman Teirlinch building is the largest Passive Design commercial project in Belgium.
Photo: inhabitat

One of the most ambitious “passive design” commercial projects currently underway is in Belgium where Europe’s largest passive office complex is under construction. The Herman Teirlinch government office will be a 66,500 square meter mixed use, low-rise, sustainable building designed by Neutelings Riedijk.

While entire passive home neighborhoods have yet to be created in the United States, passive design residential and commercial buildings are cropping up nationwide. The key components are 1) high-quality insulation and thermal-bridge-free construction 2) airtight construction 3) energy efficient windows and doors 4) mechanical ventilation for air quality.

Sto Corp has been a leader in providing passive design projects with energy efficient exterior insulation and finish systems. StoTherm ® ci continuous insulation, air moisture barriers, and advanced wall cavity systems have been used to meet and even exceed passive design energy efficiency standards in various climate zones across the country.

For more information on the Herman Teirlinch office building:

For more information on passive design:

For more passive design case studies:

Can Green Buildings Make Us Smarter?

Green is good -- outside or inside an occupied building.

A recent study published by Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) suggests that Green Buildings create optimized conditions for health and productivity. In a series of experiments, indoor environmental quality (IEQ) factors for both “green” and “conventional” buildings were simulated in a controlled environment that included office workers, and the researchers measured variables such as carbon dioxide variation, ventilation and exposure to volatile organic compounds in the building atmosphere.

The results? On average, cognitive scores for the two groups of workers were 61% higher for those working in a building with green features than with conventional construction.  In other words, green building can potentially deliver a smarter workforce.

Architizer Site Now a Resource for Architects and Builders

Medical library in Dusseldorf, Germany displaying Sto Façade & Glazing materials.

Launched in 2009, Architizer has become the largest business-to-business data resource online for architects, builders and materials suppliers. The site enables design professionals to post images of their projects along with related lists of vendors who provided the building materials required to construct them. Today, the database encompasses the work of 40,000 architecture firms and more than $4 trillion worth of projects.

Architizer thus provides a clever form of “endorsement marketing” in which fellow architects and designers can shop for ideas among the posted projects, which can turn into referrals for suppliers. The site has become a powerful tool for design industry leaders to not only showcase their products, but to learn more about the tremendous range of architectural materials available from suppliers worldwide. For example, there are 47 projects from around the globe that illustrate what can be created using products from Sto. It’s an eye-opener.

New York’s Lofty Archipelago

New York, the city that popularized the skyscraper, now has an abundance of unusually tall ones. There are now 21 buildings – mostly in Manhattan — with roof heights greater than 800 feet; three were completed within the past 36 months.

A number of these high-rise towers are residential developments, including a few needle-like structures that have generated controversy for spoiling views, driving up prices and catering to absentee owners from abroad. However, many of the recent projects represent some of the best work of modern architects from around the world, including Sir Norman Foster’s 50 United Nations Plaza building, which boasts a pool in the penthouse.