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design: how it works, looks and reveals about us

February 17, 2012

Home staging tips from Open House NYC

architecture and designIn this Tips of the Trade segment from Open House NYC, stager Cathy Hobbs gives us a common sense walk-through on the importance of properly presenting a property for sale. Staging on my exclusives can range from working with me to make recommendations on painting, and tweaking the placement of your furniture— to more industrial strength work with professionals, who are able to create the aura of a complete home, with furniture, linens, and tooth brushes, in an otherwise vacant apartment; and all points in between. Turning it into an attractive product for sale, by neutralizing the owner's imprint on their home, into a place that your buyer can imagine themselves living in. There are some tips worth watching in here.

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August 4, 2008

video: Reed Kroloff; architecture, modern and romantic

architecture and designCritic and scholar Reed Kroloff seeks a new lens for judging new architecture: is it modern, or is it romantic? In this TED talk from 2003, which has just been released, he delivers a blistering critique of the Ground Zero planning process. It serves as a springboard into a discussion of architectural approaches which he then filters as being "technocratic" or "romantic". The first being an approach in which design systems and technology are at the heart of the process and aesthetic. While the latter attempts to evoke our senses, culture and memory in the creation of immersive environments.

He uses examples from the works of two New York based architectural firms.SHoP representing the technocratic approach, citing projects such as the Rector Street Bridge in lower Manhattan and the Dunescape installation at MoMA's PS1 a few summers ago (they are also working on, or have completed, several downtown NYC condominium projects including 290 Mullberry, M127, and The Porter House). Representing the romantics is the Rockwell Group. David Rockwell has designed the green residential interiors at Riverhouse in Battery Park City, and is best known for his interiors of Tribeca's Nobu and Nobu Next Door restaurants; as well as his conversion of the W Hotel Union Square. He's also designed sets for several Broadway musicals including Hairspray, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Legally Blonde.

Frank Ghery: Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain
Frank Ghery, Guggenheim, BilbaoI was left wondering after Mr. Kroloff's presentation if there was any real difference between these approaches. It seems certain architects, Frank Ghery and Norman Foster come to mind, who are able to get an expressive and seductive environmental experience, out of their modernist, and less culturally/historically referential, formal languages. Isn't Ghery's Guggenheim in Bilbao a fusion of the modern and romantic? Isn't the best of all architecture designed to seduce, give comfort, stimulate the senses, and generally transform perceptions? Whether you agree or not, Mr. Kroloff is a compelling speaker. His presentation gives great insight into how two local shops are making their mark on our city; and in fact, I couldn't agree with him more about his comments on the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site.

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April 30, 2008

Architect Norman Foster: Building on the green agenda

green designThis is a compelling video of Sir Norman Foster that was filmed in Munich in 2007 at DLD (Digital, Life, Design); a conference covering digital innovation, science and culture. He presents a macro view of urban design and public buildings that are sustainable and "celebratory". These are agenda setting ideas. He illustrates them using his own work; including the London Gherkin, and mega scale projects in China and the Middle East. In Manhattan, Lord Foster has completed the striking Hearst building on 57th Street and is working on one of the new towers on the World Trade Center site.

January 21, 2008

A forgotten Keith Haring discovered in Tribeca condo

tribecaThis is a video report by Bradley Hope at The Sun about a lost work by Keith Haring which was recently uncovered during the redevelopment of a loft at The American Thread Building in my neighborhood of Tribeca. The space was formerly an exhibition space in the old days when Tribeca was an artist's neighborhood and you might find Haring at the Mudd Club on White Street a few blocks away. The work is similar to the painted patterns that he did on the walls, floors, and ceilings at the Pop Shop and the 23rd Street gallery at the School of Visual Arts, where he and I crossed paths in 1979, just before his rise on the 1980's art scene. I remember him taping similar drawings on the underside of the cover mats of copiers in the cafeteria at SVA one day, so that students would get a free little bit of art on the edges of their copies. Much of the work from this period like his famous subway drawings, were experimental, effusive and temporary in nature, a good deal has been painted over and lost. Keith Haring died in 1990 at the age of 31, of complications related to AIDS. His work is iconic of the 1980's New York Art scene and continues to inspire new generations.

I'd shown this space when it was on the market a couple of years ago. It was a huge, dramatic, but very clunky commercial space, which required a bit of vision on behalf of a purchaser and their architect to mold into a residence. There was no sign of Keith's work visible at the time. It was on the market then at about $4 million and in need of a complete gut renovation. Including the Haring mural, the renovated space is now being offered at just under $17 million. Since the art can't be moved, I certainly hope that whoever acquires it, will appreciate and preserve the work that accidentally graces their new home.

January 17, 2008

Frank Gehry: Nice building. Then what?

designThis TED conference video of architect Frank Gehry being interviewed by TED's founder, Richard Saul Wurman, was shot in 2002 in Monterey, but just released. Mr. Ghery speaks about his work from the time, and gives us insight into what is important to him, in a way that only a man of incredible talent, working at the pinnacle of his career may— with some lighter moments thrown in too. From the TED Web site: "Frank Gehry wanted to be a scientist when he grew up. But after blowing up a part of his house, at age 14, he decided against it. He's gone on to create some mind blowing buildings, including the Guggenheim at Bilbao and LA's Walt Disney Concert Hall. This wildly entertaining conversation...touches on many topics, including the power of failure, the importance of collaboration, and the need for architects to bring personal expression to the table."

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December 20, 2007

A plan for Governors Island begins to take shape

The Mayor and Governor announced the selection of Dutch firm West 8 to lead the effort in the redevelopment of Governors Island into what may become one of the largest and most exciting public spaces in the nation.

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December 5, 2007

Video: Alex Steffen on Bright Green Cities

In his July 2005 TED talk, "Inspired ideas for a sustainable future", founder Alex Steffen offers a lightning round of answers to some of our planet's greatest sustainability challenges. Its a big picture perspective on topics which range from real estate development (green cities and buildings), to digital collaboration tools, to ingenious tools for the developing world.

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November 15, 2007

"love the apartment, but it's too noisy"

The throbbing pulse of Manhattan is something that many of us would rather not have follow us into our homes. What can be done about the street noise? A pretty common question I get from customers that find an apartment they love, but on a busy street. Some of the most expensive lofts in the city are on bustling lower Broadway. What do those owners do about the street noise? Many have turned to solutions like cityproof windows which can quite effectively soundproof an apartment. I was asked that question just today and remembered this video clip from Open House New York, so here it is for that customer, and the rest of noisy New York City too.

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June 12, 2007

The transparent broker

I'm giving a short talk about brokers and blogging at Corcoran's Harlem office today. Blogging for business is a big topic, and my talk today is short, so I've decided to frame it as more of a "why do" than a "how to". Blogging is a way to engage people and spread ideas, in a way that is powerful, conversational and happens almost in real time. For me, it is all about transparency and visibility, which have similar meanings when used in this context. It offers people the chance to have a conversation with me in much wider way them ever before. I believe that in the future this will be the norm. To not have an online presence may invoke the question, "Why are you hiding?"

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May 31, 2007

Barbara Corcoran on staging your home for sale

We welcome The Cocoran Group founder, Barbara Corcoran, to the center column here via youtube, to see her recent three part series about preparing your home for sale. They cover several different locations, including one in NYC, but the principles of home staging remain the largely the same for houses and apartments. These videos are full of great tips for selling your home.

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May 30, 2007

new! the real estate book shop at

Introducing the book shop on As some of you who read me know, I occasionally talk about a book, and embed an link, so that you can get more info, read reviews, and buy it too. I've expanded that idea to include a book shop here on which I launched yesterday, this is a test flight that I hope to make permanent. A portion of all profits from the book shop will be used to support Corcoran Cares, a grassroots, charitable initiative by Corcoran's agents, to give back to the communities we serve.

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April 26, 2007

Sunday walking tours of Flatiron

The Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership is sponsoring free walking tours of the historic Flatiron district every Sunday starting April 29th.

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April 16, 2007

design matters

I tend to be such a 'dyed in the wool' native New Yorker that an immersive change of context in a far away city for really tweaks my observation skills and helps to promote creative thinking. It was a welcome break. The sights have refreshed my point of view in at least a couple of ways regarding this site and its context moving forward.

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January 29, 2007

a day in the life: sleepwalking from home to ground zero

There are a few stories I want to share with you this month that got away until now; and maybe that's good, as it gives me a moment to step back to form a larger context in which to place them. They all took place on January 18th and involved things which I blogged about recently. There is a common thread running through the stories, of buildings as the focal point of larger personal and public issues. On that day; I sold the home I grew up in, saw Doug Aitken's 'sleepwalkers' at MoMA, and heard a radical vision for the redevelopment of ground-zero.

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January 11, 2007

Upcoming 'downtown third thursdays' series

Here's something for those of us who live and work downtown, plus everyone else interested in New York City. Starting on January 18th a new series of these outstanding lectures by authors, architects & scholars— and sometimes all three.

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December 14, 2006

design blogfest in soho

I attended "design blogfest" this evening which benefited the Soho Partnership; what a great turnout at the Design Within Reach Soho location on Wooster Street.

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October 31, 2006

haunted housing

The ghastly, seasonal, smile that greets costumed guests into our homes, takes some original twists here.

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