The Business of Modern Prefab, a Rocio Romero Perspective

LVL Home

Rocio Romero is a 35-year-old designer, manufacturer, and entrepreneur.  She’s well known for her minimalist, modern LV Home.  Do you know the history behind Rocio Romero?  Christy Marshall authored an excellent article on her and her growing business in modern prefab.  Romero is a graduate of University of California-Berkeley and Southern California Institute of Architecture (aka SCI-Arc).  One of her first designs was a summer house for her parents in Laguna Verde outside of Santiago, Chile.  That home was modified slightly and has become the LV Home that we see popping up all over the country.  As for pricing, here’s what you can expect:

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Are Starchitects Resistant to Environmentalism + Humanitarianism?

LA Times

There’s an opinion piece by Christopher Hawthorne in the LA Times about the potential absence of star architects, lazily referred to as ‘starchitects’, from the realm of humanitarian architecture.  When I say humanitarian architecture, I’m referring to such causes as environmentalism, poverty, or illness, etc.  Hawthorne laments the lack of a green Rem Koolhaus, smacking on about Peter Eisenman as the villain of green and Zaha Hadid as careless of anything other than her legacy.  To quote:

But it also means that the leaders of this new movement, who tend to be rather bland as media personalities, are overshadowed by older architects and designers far less interested in sustainability or fighting poverty — and far more experienced at attracting attention and wielding celebrity. In the last 20 years, the most appealing figures in the profession have cultivated a decidedly apolitical, even defiantly cynical outlook…

Among the green generation, who is heading up the charge? Well, nobody, really. This may be the first movement in architectural history whose followers are more famous than its leaders. Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Orlando Bloom are well-known fans of green design. Among green designers, on the other hand, we have the ambitiously principled (read: sorta vanilla) Cameron Sinclair, who leads Architecture for Humanity; the great, greatly mustachioed and soft-spoken Shigeru Ban; and William McDonough, who is beginning to project an Andy Rooney vibe.

Now, for my own thoughts…I’m not an architect, so I’ll let the pros chime in, but I will speak to the issue from the perspective of a developer or business owner that retains an architect for a project.  First, isn’t the person paying the commission the one fueling the star architect ego, egos that brazenly design with no thought for the world that the structure will occupy?  Doesn’t money dictate direction?  If I want a green building, and it’s my money, I’ll find the right person for the job.  Don’t these people have a grand stage because it’s been given to them?  Second, it seems like the leaders of the green movement aren’t singular figures, but they’re large firms such as SOM, Foster + Partners, FXFOWLE Architects, and Murphy/Jahn Architects.  It seems like it takes a village to raise a humanitarian building, not an individual. 

But, is this a contradiction with the architectural archetype in Howard Roark.  Are these starchitects just modern day Roarks?  But wouldn’t Roark try to use new materials and methods like green building + low-income architecture, etc.?  Matter of fact, as I recall, Roark did build a low-income project.  Tell me what you think…

Telus Tower of Toronto (S2)

Telus Tower Telus Tower is going to be one of the first new towers constructed in Toronto in a long time.  It could also be one of the most technologically advanced towers in Canada.  Using the LEED certification system as a guideline for design, the Telus Tower will pursue Silver level certification.  It’s expected to cost about $250 M to build, with about 30 stories comprising 780,000 sf of office space.  Telus will occupy about 60% of the building when it is completed by the beginning of 2009. 

In addition to the LEED elements, Telus Tower is going to be a showcase of "Future Friendly™" Technology in both building automation systems and tenant environments.  This will include floor-to-ceiling windows, raised floors for underfloor distribution of hot/cool air, and state-of-the-art communications cabling and electrical power. 

Good Links:
++Telus Announces New Office Development in Toronto [Telus]
++New Towers Paint the Town Green [thestar.com]
++Toronto Downtown Towers Going Green [treehugger]

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07.07.2007 – Thoughts on Live Earth, John Mayer + David de Rothschild

Live Earth Global Warming Survival Handbook Unless you’re completely oblivious to what’s happening on Earth, you know there’s a world full of concerts going on.  Live Earth.  With some things, I like to exercise a modicum of skepticism to make sure I know my feelings on the issue.  I was slow to come around to Live Earth.  I mean, I love a good concert.  I’ve seen DMB in concert multiple times.  I respect many of these artists for their tireless contribution to musicality.  But, I popped open the Live Earth Global Warming Handbook and here’s Tip #45: Take a Bath Together.  How am I supposed to take this book seriously?  What is this, some silly excuse to get it on?  Well, I kept reading.  Tip #45 talked about low-flow toilets and a future world with water shortages.  Water heating can take up to 25% of a home’s energy use.  I decided I should change my attitude and bought the book.  To take the words of one of the greatest musicians (and I mean musicality when I say that), John Mayer:

To the journalists who will lay in wait for the perfectly maligned moment of hypocrisy, you will probably find one if that’s how you want to spend your time. Just use this as a measuring stick; give Live Earth’s initiative at least as much benefit of the doubt as you’ve given to the iPhone, or a new Radiohead album…Sure, if I wanted to be cynical, I could pose the question as to what happens if the biggest concert on Earth takes place only to hear the world respond with a resounding "that’s nice, but have you seen the cat that plays piano on YouTube?" But all I feel going into Saturday afternoon is hope. And lots of it.

Point well taken.  I’m watching Live Earth highlights of what looks like Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Ludacris, Jack Johnson, and maybe the Pussycat Dolls?  I’m also thinking this event should raise the world’s awareness of the low hanging environmental fruit.  Plastic bags, CFLs, Junk Mail, etc.  I’ve spent the last 2-3 hours reading through David de Rothschild’s Global Warming Handbook and there’s some good leads here.  Here’s some content relevant to the scope of Jetson Green,

Good Links:
++The 10 Easiest Ways to Green Your Home [MSN RE]
++Re-Thinking Energy in Homes [Live Earth Green]
++Green Construction Saves Money and Earth [MSNBC]

Smart Growth, Valuable Green Ideas, Energy Efficiency Investments + Affordable Green Developments (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Boston suburbs urged to adhere to smart growth principles or face the loss of open space and dwindling water resources. 
  2. There’s money to be made in green ideas; the business landscaped has changed from risk management to chasing revenue growth opportunities. 
  3. Businesses are investing in energy efficient measures for the main purpose of decreasing rising energy costs. 
  4. Enterprise Green Communities continues support for green buildings by handing out four grants of $70,000 to Los Angeles-based affordable housing developers. 

MiniHome: Ultimate Sustainable Mobility

Sustain Minihome

This is the Sustain Minihome, a green, urban RV for the modern-day recreationists.  When you see this, you won’t believe how much functionality and comfort can go into a mere 325 sf.  To get the real feel of it, go check out the HGTV video of Andy Thomson’s miniHome (the designer).  Nice.  I’m pretty sure this is going on the Christmas wish list.

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