Newsworthy ...

Nov. 4, 2005
Hurricane Katrina devastates Gulf Coast lodging industry. Project CityCenter, Las Vegas, reveals architectural paradigm. And more.

Chicago Condos Offer Full-Floor Exclusivity
Chicago-based James McHugh Construction Co. has begun construction on 50 E. Chestnut, a $47-million condominium tower that will only offer full-floor homes on Chicago’s Gold Coast. Located at the northeast corner of N. Rush and Chestnut Streets, the 39-story building will feature retail and parking on its first five floors, which will be topped by a green roof system and rooftop garden. Residences, housed in a slender tower, will rise above this granite-clad pedestal base.

Developer for the 222,000-square-foot building is Jameson Development LLC; architect is Solomon Cordwell Buenz Associates. Both firms are located in Chicago.

The 34-unit condominium will offer only one home per floor. All homes will include two terraces on east and west sides of the building. The 39th floor will feature a fitness center. Homes will feature high ceilings, wood floors in living areas, custom cabinetry, and high-end fixtures and finishes. Homes will range in size from approximately 3,579 to 3,937 square feet; most feature three bedrooms plus a library and 3.5 baths.

The environmentally sensitive green roof system, encouraged by the City of Chicago, features landscaping planted on roofs to help reduce urban heat accumulation, absorb storm- water run-off, and improve air quality.

The narrow strip of land upon which the tower is being built will leave so little room for extras that McHugh plans to install its construction trailer atop the pedestrian canopy covering the sidewalk. The construction crane will be shoehorned into the site’s Chestnut Street side, and material deliveries will require the team’s utmost logistical skills.

New Benchmarking Studies from IREM
The Chicago-based Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) offers 2005 editions of its Income/Expense Analyses® reports.
Office Buildings. Intended to help property owners, managers, investors, appraisers, lenders, developers, and other real estate professionals evaluate their buildings’ performance and prepare budget and revenue projections, feasibility studies, etc., this report found that for both suburban and downtown office properties in operation for 12-plus months, national occupancy levels rose slightly in 2004 from the prior year. Occupancy levels for suburban office properties rose 2 percent to 97 percent, whereas those for downtown office properties rose just 1 percent to 96 percent. Rental rates, overall operating costs, and net operating income remained relatively stable across the sector last year, as did overall operating costs.

Conventional Rental Apartments. Helpful for real estate professionals evaluating multi-family development and investment options, this report assists in benchmarking the performance of properties owned and managed, as well as in developing budgets, feasibility studies, appraisals, loan requests, etc. Key findings from this report were obtained by analyzing operating income and cost figures for more than 4,100 multi-family rental properties across the United States and Canada. Total expenses rose in 2004 from the prior year for all major types of conventional rental apartments, with the exception of low-rise buildings with 12 to 24 units. Net operating income decreased across the conventional rental apartment spectrum while uncollected income due to vacancy and other forms of rent loss were relatively unchanged from 2003.

Federally Assisted Multi-Family Properties. Designed as a tool to help owners and managers of subsidized housing make detailed, accurate comparisons of their properties’ performance, this report can also be used as a resource for developing appraisals, acquisition or sales proposals, feasibility studies, and loan requests. Analyses of operating data for almost 1,000 high-rise, low-rise, and garden-style properties nationwide receiving federal assistance found that operating expenses for most, but not all, types of federally subsidized multi-family housing increased in 2004 from 2003 levels; a few decreased. Section 202 elevator and Section 236 elevator and low-rise buildings recorded higher operating costs, as did Section 8 elderly/handicapped elevator and Section 8 family elevator and low-rise buildings. Cost increases also were recorded by garden building types across the federally subsidized multi-family housing sector.

Shopping Centers. Providing real estate professionals and investors with current financial data for evaluating the performance of their properties and for preparing appraisals, budgets, loan requests, and sales proposals, this report analyzed operating data for 351 open shopping centers throughout the United States. It indicates that median income for open shopping centers across the country in 2004, based upon average actual occupancy, increased to $12.17 per square foot from $11.62 the prior year. Similarly, open center operating costs last year rose to $3.49 per square foot from $3.28 in 2003.

High-Rise Condominiums. Assisting condominium, co-op, and planned unit development boards and property managers in benchmarking their associations’ financial condition, calculating assessments and necessary replacement reserves, and evaluating budgets, this analysis included operating income and cost figures for more than 1,400 community associations nationwide. Median total operating expenses and assessment for all condominium property types as a group remained relatively stable in 2004, declining just 1.1 percent to $1,912.42 per unit for the year from $1,933.96 per unit in 2003. Moreover, condominium dwellers as a group paid a mere 1.6-percent less in assessments last year, with the median monthly assessment of $187.14 per unit, compared with $190.16 in 2003.

Walton Family Foundation Plans to Build Art Museum
Joined by a world-renowned architect, art historian, landscape designer, and dignitaries from around the state, the Walton Family Foundation recently unveiled the design of a major new art museum and cultural center to be built within walking distance of the town square in Bentonville, AR.

The museum, Crystal Bridges, takes its name from an inspired glass and wood bridge design that traverses a local spring-fed stream. Designed by Boston-based architect Moshe Safdie, the museum is expected to open in May 2009 and will present perspectives on the flow of America’s history and heritage through the eyes of the nation’s most influential artists. According to Alice Walton, daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, “Crystal Bridges is a wonderful way to build appreciation for America’s artistic heritage and create cultural opportunities here in Northwest Arkansas.”

The museum will house a permanent collection of masterworks from American artists along with galleries dedicated to Native American and regional art and artists. In addition, temporary exhibitions drawn from national institutions will be displayed in the museum. A dynamic temporary exhibitions program will complement the holdings of the permanent collection - which will be assembled by Alice Walton and the Walton Family Foundation, and, will comprise paintings and sculptures by American artists from the Revolutionary period through modern times.

The main building will house art galleries, lecture and concert venues, meeting places, educational spaces, and library resources. An innovative building design - reflective of its forested creek-side home and linked by landscaped trails and paths connecting area neighborhoods - will capture the interplay of nature, art, and culture in the region. Flexibly designed spaces within the museum and its grounds will accommodate a variety of group-based activities, ranging from outdoor concerts to public gatherings. A 250-seat indoor theater and other spaces will be ideal venues for community receptions and dinners, as well as private functions.

Call for Entries: Steel Design
Entries are now being accepted for the revised Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel Awards (IDEA2). All entries are due Dec. 15, 2005.

Sponsored by Chicago-based American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), this program recognizes projects where structural steel has been utilized in an innovative manner and recognizes the entire building team: architectural firm, structural engineering firm of record, general contractor, detailer, fabricator, and erector, as well as the project owner. Specialty consultants and contractors will be recognized at the discretion of the architect and structural engineer of record. Any member of the project team may submit a project for consideration. Joint submittals from project teams are encouraged.

The innovative use of structural steel may be in:

  • The accomplishment of the building’s program.
  • The expression of architectural intent.
  • The application of innovative design approaches to the structural system.
  • The utilization of productivity enhancing construction methods.

Judges will consider the project’s utilization of structural steel from both an architectural and structural engineering perspective with an emphasis on a creative solution to the project’s program requirements; application of innovative design approaches; aesthetic and visual impact of the project; innovative uses of architecturally exposed structural steel; technical and/or architectural advances in the use of structural steel; and use of innovative design and construction methods (i.e. 3-D building models, interoperability, early integration of specialty contractors, etc.).

Submission packets can be requested by visiting ( through Nov. 15, with entry submissions due by Dec. 15. For questions, call or e-mail Becky LeDonne at (312) 670-5433 or [email protected]).

USGBC Names New LEED Head
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has promoted Tom Hicks, formerly director of LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB), to vice president of the LEED Green Building Rating System® program.

“USGBC members deserve an all-star management team, and Tom’s promotion from his role as director of LEED for Existing Buildings to VP for all of LEED further builds the foundation of our already strong organization,” says Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC’s president, CEO, and founding chairman. “His exceptional technical knowledge, combined with his deep market expertise, make him the perfect person to help us take LEED, and USGBC, to the next level.”

Prior to joining the USGBC in November 2004, Hicks spent 9 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a senior program manager, serving as principal architect and program manager of the Energy Star® commercial building rating system, the nation’s largest energy-efficiency initiative.

METALCON Intl. Draws Qualified Buyers and Eager Learners
Variety was the key word at the 15th annual METALCON Intl., held Oct. 4-6, 2005, in Rosemont, IL.The international trade show and conference for those who design and build with metal drew more than 6,500 buyers from more than 40 countries.

A mix of products, demonstrations of new field techniques, and educational opportunities filled the needs of architects, contractors, specifiers, and municipal officials who came to learn and to buy. Show Director Claire Kilcoyne explains: “When we started METALCON 15 years ago, a small percent of architects and builders understood the value and beauty of metal. Now metal is the most sought after building material because it’s durable, recyclable, and has unlimited design possibilities. That draws a greater variety of people wanting to know more about metal and how to use it and a broader spectrum of exhibitors to this event.”

In addition to an expanded, 38-session education program, including a track on green building, METALCON once again offered the popular STUD University steel framing program. Sponsored by the Steel Framing Alliance, STUD U combines classroom and hands-on training into a 3-day intensive learning experience in which students and instructors build METALCON’s steel structure inside the exhibit hall.

METALCON is sponsored by the Metal Construction Association, and more than 45 related associations and publications promote the event. The next METALCON Intl. will be held at the Tampa (Florida) Convention Center, Oct. 3-5, 2006. For more information, visit (

Project CityCenter, Las Vegas, Reveals Architectural Paradigm
With the potential to redefine contemporary urban design throughout the world, Project CityCenter (a mixed-use development built on 66 acres along the Las Vegas Strip between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo resorts) introduces a stunning vertical city in the heart of Las Vegas’ expansive horizontal grid.

This hotel tower, casino, and convention center - designed by architect Cesar Pelli - will be CityCenter’s iconic feature. With a demonstrably different design from any other building that has preceded it, high-end, non-gaming hotels will bookend the development. An inviting neighborhood of unique retail shops, dining, and entertainment venues will be at the heart of CityCenter’s urban metropolis. Five design teams are currently at work to create what will ultimately be 75 to 90 storefronts, cafés, bars, galleries, jazz clubs, and more.

U.S. Green Building Council Files for ANSI Accreditation
The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently announced that it has filed an application with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to become an ANSI-accredited national standards developer for standards related to green building practices.

“Since its beginnings more than a decade ago, USGBC has used a consensus process to develop the LEED Green Building Rating System®,” explains USGBC President, CEO, and Founding Chairman Rick Fedrizzi. “Becoming ANSI-accredited will underscore USGBC’s commitment to its core values, which include openness, inclusiveness, and collaboration. It is also part of the continual improvement of USGBC.”

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is USGBC’s chief program for accelerating the adoption of sustainable building practices. A voluntary, consensus-based rating system, LEED delivers a sound and certifiable basis for identifying buildings that represent leadership in the use of sustainable building practices and design. LEED aims to recognize the top 25 percent of building practices and reward those that are pushing the bar in the development of innovative and high-performing buildings.

Hurricane Katrina Devastates Gulf Coast Lodging Industry
A mid-September study by Lodging Econometrics reports a total of 286 hotels (with a combined tally of 45,832 rooms) in the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama experienced service interruptions and damage so severe from Hurricane Katrina that they are no longer accepting reservations from the traveling public. The report for the lodging industry and vendor community, published by the Portsmouth, NH-based company, is the first detailed, comprehensive analysis of Hurricane Katrina’s impact on the lodging industry.

Patrick Ford, Lodging Econometrics president, says the report is an empirical build-up of fact-based research, hotel by hotel, rather than by computer modeling. The data has been gathered through interviews with hotel owners and managers, state and city hotel associations, and the leading hotel companies and brands.

Ford notes the effect on lodging real estate in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama is more extensive than the 30,000 to 40,000 rooms originally forecasted by computer modeling. As of Sept. 15, the closed hotel count in Louisiana was 160 hotels with 28,481 rooms; in Mississippi, 93 hotels having 13,701 rooms; and in Alabama, 33 hotels with 3,650 rooms.

At press time, Lodging Econometrics had not released statistics in respect to damage to hospitality properties in Western Louisiana and Texas in the wake of Hurricane Rita.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Buildings, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations