Nancy Trainer, AIA
Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates
Credit: Matt Wargo for VSBA
"I'm fascinated by the opportunity the financial, housing, and energy crises present to think about how we live, where houses are located, and how they're made. In our practice, we do see a very sincere effort by clients to be more green and sustainable."
—Nancy Trainer, AIA, LEED AP, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Philadelphia
"The subprime mortgage crisis and general global economic downturn, coupled with the prospects of diminishing global oil supplies and the severe effects of global warming, suggest the need to dramatically rethink the design of living environments. Designers will increasingly need to think about the resilience of houses, and the neighborhoods and larger urban areas in which they are located.
Location-efficient mortgages should be the norm and will rise in importance—giving homeowners a break for choosing a place where they can do without a car. Smaller homes, designed with orientation to the sun, and which minimize both the greenhouse gas emissions and the size of energy bills, will be essential, as well as designing in the ability to produce power on site. Bundling new low-energy homes with solar technologies, including an electric car that serves as a nighttime energy storage device, will make increasingly good sense.
Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities
University of Virginia School of Architecture
Credit: Courtesy Tim Beatley
The rising price of food, coupled with the movement away from our current energy-intensive food system, suggests the need to explicitly incorporate food production capability in every new home and building. This means creatively using spaces in and around the home with raised planters, rooftop and façade gardens, and edible landscaping. (New-home buyers should be given choices about the combination of fruit trees and bushes they'll like to grow.)
We will also need some creative thinking about how neighborhoods and clusters of homes function: designing in common spaces for community gathering, community gardens and orchards, on-site water reclamation and reuse, and opportunities for sharing resources and goods between and among residents (every neighborhood with a site for car-sharing vehicles). The crises ahead, and the need to retool and rethink housing and living environments, should be understood through a hopeful lens—a chance to build homes that encourage us to reconnect to our landscapes and communities—and to each other."
—Tim Beatley, Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities, University of Virginia School of Architecture, Charlottesville, Va.
"Unlike their investments in stocks, people actually have some control over their homes. When you own $10,000 worth of General Motors stock, you don't get to tell the company to make more fuel-efficient cars. But if you decide to add 100 square feet to your house at $150 per square foot, and the market values that at $185 per square foot, you've just increased your home's value by $35 per square foot. Utility—a place to live close to work and school—and control make the residential market perform differently than stocks and bonds. During the upcoming two to three years, as we unravel the financial situation we're in, people will put some discretionary funds back into their homes. They can't get them into the marketplace now with values that make sense to them, but they can appreciate the value. The first part of the residential market to come back will be multifamily housing, once the shadow market is consumed. By shadow market I mean homes leased to someone else because they were bought on spec, and this market varies by area.
R. Nicholas Loope, FAIA
R. Nicholas Loope, FAIA, LLC
Director, Master of Real Estate Development Program/Associate Professor of Architecture
Arizona State University
Credit: Harrison Hurwitz Photography
Fee-simple, deeded home ownership is a uniquely American idea, and residential real estate has been the middle-class wealth anchor. The founders of our country set into place the greatest wealth-building engine ever conceived. In many places in the world there is no private ownership. You live on the land as a guest of the ruling governance system or land baron. If we were a directed marketplace like the Soviet Union, I'd be concerned. But here, the market will happen. You're going to buy dinner tonight, pay your electric bill, gets the kids some new shoes, and work to be able to do that.
Still, in some hot growth areas, quite a bit of inventory needs to be absorbed, and until credit becomes available, people who want to buy can't. Then job and population growth are the two engines needed for residential construction. It will take us awhile to get all that back on track, but in some places it has already begun. Some parts of Phoenix are appreciating at 3 percent. And portions of the housing stock will need changes just to respond to the behavioral patterns of the population over the next three to five years. People will say, 'I'm not going to commute an hour anymore.' Infill, multifamily, and existing-home renovations will be the early leaders in the recovery."
—R. Nicholas Loope, FAIA, R. Nicholas Loope, FAIA, LLC, Phoenix, and director, Master of Real Estate Development program/associate professor of architecture, Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.
The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design
The Museum of Modern Art
New York City
Credit: Eileen Barroso, courtesy of Columbia University
"The silver lining in the terrible hardship that has befallen many homeowners—particularly first-time homeowners—is that the overblown, poorly built, retrograde, taste-neutral 'dream' homes that have galloped across the valleys of California and the flatlands of Florida are now most likely as extinct as the SUV. Both were based on supersizing for resale and for the instant satisfaction of a standardized dream that would retain currency. This illusion is now broken, along with lots of lives in the wake.
As with all economic downturns, it is also a time of hardship for architects, but one that can spark new ideas and new innovations. We should see a return to the careful and innovative design of spaces scaled to life in a time of diminished prosperity, to houses that take full advantage of the progress being made in green design, and to the making of houses to the highest standards, since good design, superior fabrication, and intelligent innovation in small-scaled things are the marks of all good design—not simply add-ons at a late stage of customization."
—Barry Bergdoll, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, New York City