Wednesday, May 20, 2015
In 2015, the BCO will be venturing abroad to the city that many regard as the birthplace of the modern office – Chicago. In the BCO’s first long haul adventure since the highly memorable and successful Conference of 2007 in New York, and in the year of our 25th Anniversary, we will be going back to the source and at the same time asking the question “what of the future”?
What can we learn from the innovation which created the first “skyscraper” – the Home Insurance Building – which topped out 130 years ago at all of 180ft tall, which we can apply to the workspace which we are creating today and in the future? Cities in America are facing the same challenges as we are in the UK, seeking to find a way to accommodate the demands of a technology hungry and sophisticated new demographic – both at work and at leisure, and in Chicago we will be comparing how different (and how similar) the responses have been on either side of the Atlantic, and looking at how those responses might shape the new cities and new workspaces springing up in Asia and the Far East.
Hey, one percenters, listen up (or pay someone to do it for you) because we’ve got some exciting news that might pique your interest. All the rest of you non-global-elite types can amscray. That’s right, you heard us, get out of here. It’s for your own good.
The housing problem in Hong Kong is critical. Studies estimate that the city of seven million will have to house another 600,000 people over the course of the next 30 years. With rapidly increasing urbanization rates, leading Chinese metropolises are speculating on fast and intelligent ways to manage population growth by creating additional housing within their existing borders. While some cities are growing taller and others are mulling developing rare and cherished park space, Hong Kong is taking a different approach. Officials and engineers have thought about something else: developing an extensive underground city.
The story goes like this: In 1949 an engineer named A.K. Chahroudi commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home on Petra Island in Lake Mahopac, New York, which Chahroudi owned. But the $50,000 price tag on the 5,000 square foot house was more than Chahroudi could afford, so Wright designed him a smaller, more affordable cottage elsewhere on the island.
Fast forward to 1996 when Joseph Massaro, a sheet metal contractor, bought the island for $700,000, a sale that also included Wright’s original yet unfinished plans. Though he says he only intended to spruce up the existing cottage and not build anything new, one can hardly fault Massaro for wanting to follow through on a home Wright once said would eclipse Falling Water. In 2000 Massaro sold his business and hired Thomas A. Heinz, an architect and Wright historian, to complete and update the design, a move that incensed the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, who promptly sued him, stating he couldn’t claim the house was a true Wright, but was only “inspired” by him.
Earlier in the week Crain’s reported that the Merchandise Mart, Chicago’s iconic Art Deco design center and the home of the country’s largest design trade show, is up for sale. Vornado, the New York–based real estate company that bought the Mart’s parent company from the Kennedy family in 1998, is reportedly seeking more than $1 billion for 8.9 million square feet held by Merchandise Mart Properties (MMPI).
Yesterday, MMPI released a statement disputing elements of the Crain’s story, particularly recent profitability figures. According to MMPI, their properties are 92% occupied, a rate far higher than the 84% occupancy for the rest of the Chicago central business district. The statement implies, thought it does not categorically state, that the Mart is not on the block. Here’s the full release. Read More