Newsworthy ...

Sept. 1, 2005
Simon Property taps Chinese market. Office vacancies hit new low. And more.

More Curves, Material Options Top List of Trends in Metal Roofing
Many building owners seeking long-term roofing solutions are insisting on metal roofs that offer both curb appeal and exceptional performance.

The growing emphasis on style, for example, has ushered in a new category of roofs shaped to give them asymmetrical curves. It’s an increasingly popular option in many parts of the country, especially for retail stores, commercial buildings, schools, and public buildings, suggests Rob Haddock, director of the Metal Roof Advisory Group of Colorado Springs, CO. A leading technology for producing curved panels involves a process in which a computerized two-way press bends panels precisely into the desired radii and angles of curvature without damaging the panel’s finish.

Haddock has also identified a trend toward steeper slopes, a development that originated in the 1980s and ’90s. “Flat and very low-slope roofs were the rage in the ’60s and ’70s, but the desire for buildings with more curb appeal has led many building owners and architects to conclude that steeper is better,” Haddock says. “And there’s nothing to suggest that this trend won’t continue to gain momentum.” In addition, some building owners eager to be design trendsetters are now opting for roof fascias that are overstated, extended, or molded to increase their dramatic appeal.

Value-conscious end-users, according to Haddock, are also gravitating toward metal roofing products because they provide long years of reliable performance and ensure the best possible return on investment. They require little maintenance, provide long service life, have a low life-cycle cost structure, and offer ample design flexibility.

For more information on metal roofs, log onto The Metal Initiative website (

San Francisco Puts Latest Re-Use Project in Motion
San Francisco officials furthered the sustainability of a former energy-efficient model home by converting it into a community center that offers social services for a low-income neighborhood.

The trick, however, is getting it to its new location.

The 2,700-square-foot “NowHouse” - designed to showcase energy efficiency and healthy building features for homeowners, architects, and developers - was moved in early July by barge from Pier 48 and will dock at Candlestick Point State Recreational Area from where it will be taken to its final destination, the Alice Griffith Housing Development. The 59-ton home will be intact during the move.

Once relocated, it will serve more than 700 residents of the Alice Griffith Community and the surrounding neighborhood, and will be used to provide an array of services to the community, including medical screening, educational and vocational programs, and youth activities. It also will serve as a community/meeting facility.

Features of the green building home will stay in place for the new center. The unique facility includes strategic products and designs to minimize energy and water use, provide healthy indoor air quality, and encourage the reuse and recycling of materials.

Simon Taps Chinese Market
Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, the largest developer, owner, and manager of retail real estate in the United States, has signed a cooperation framework agreement with the Morgan Stanley Real Estate Funds (MSREF) and SZITIC Commercial Property Co. Ltd. (SZITIC CP), the retail property subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned trust and investment firm Shenzhen Intl. Trust & Investment Co. Ltd. (SZITIC).

The agreement will allow the partners to develop retail shopping center projects in China. Simon and MSREF will each own 32.5 percent of the enterprise, while SZITIC CP will own 35 percent.

Each project will be an urban, multi-level, retail destination of between 430,000 and 750,000 square feet, anchored in all cases by a Wal-Mart store. Warner Theaters may also be an anchor tenant in some of the projects. Proposed development sites are in the Yangtze River Delta, which includes the cities of Shanghai, Nanjing, and Hangzhou.

The venture’s first project will be a 500,000-square-foot mall in Hangzhou, a historic city of 6 million people located 2 hours from Shanghai. Construction is scheduled to commence in October, with an expected completion date in Spring 2007.

More than 12 potential projects have been identified. If development proceeds, those projects will comprise a total area of approximately 8 million square feet.

Office Vacancies Hit New Low
The U.S. office vacancy rate plummeted to a 3-year low of 15.7 percent in second-quarter 2005, according to a report by Bob Bach, national director, market analysis, Grubb & Ellis Co., Northbrook, IL. Bach says the drop is the largest single-quarter decline since the tail-end of the dot-com bubble 5 years ago.

Net absorption totaled 22.2 million square feet, the strongest performance in 5 years. It is more than four times the amount of new space completed during the quarter, Bach notes. Construction activity remains muted.

Asking rental rates for Class-A space were 4.6-percent above their year-ago level. Surging demand is likely to push the vacancy rate below 15 percent by year-end, Bach predicts.

School Construction Costs Will Rise Due to ANSI’s Classroom Acoustical Standard
According to a study conducted by the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI), Arlington, VA, the additional cost to retrofit classrooms to meet the American National Standard Institute’s (ANSI) Standard 12.60, Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, and Guidelines for Schools is between 4 and 19 percent.

Of the 48 classrooms evaluated, the study found:

  • The average ambient noise level in a tested classroom was 47 dBA. The standard requires classrooms to have an ambient noise level of no more than 35 dBA.
  • None of the classrooms studied met the ANSI standard requirements for interior partition sound transmission.
  • All but one of the classrooms passed the reverberation time requirements of the ANSI standard.
  • All but one of the classrooms passed the exterior isolation requirements of the ANSI standard.

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