Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Best in American Architecture - Two Bits for a Gander?

Let us take a step back from real estate to look at an interesting news piece in the wider realm of ‘living spaces’ for just a moment.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) released a poll today of Americans’ 150 favorite architectural structures, taken by surveying everyday Americans across all regions, professions, and races. The results have many architectural purists shaking their heads and asking deeper questions.

You can access the complete list here.

The top ten is merely the tip of the iceberg. With mainstay architectural triumphs such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Empire State and Chrysler towers in New York City, the juggernauts of American design are surely represented. But the trend seems to go overboard with six of the remaining top tens being selected as Washington DC memorials – more postcard photographs than spaces for living.

But it gets weirder. The Bellagio Hotel and Casino (No. 22) beats out architectural masterpieces such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater (No. 29) and the Rookery Building in Chicago (No. 128), arguably the world’s first skyscraper.

Nearly all of the historical textbook standouts were represented, but familiarity obviously triumphed over sophistication. Most of the leading entries had that picture-postcard quality – like the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the World Trade Center (note: no longer standing), and the Washington Memorial.

Several important structures were indeed given the cold shoulder, including Thomas Jefferson’s masterful University of Virginia campus and the most-influential 20th century works of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who failed to record an entry on the list. Chicago critics – who praise their city as the birthplace of modern American architecture – scoffed at the delayed entry of their hometown landmarks until Number 31 – with the often crumbing, conglomeration of concrete and wood that is Wrigley Field. The Sears Tower (No. 45) and Tribune Tower (No. 38) followed late, with the John Hancock Building (which was awarded the AIA 25-year award for enduring design) not even making the list.

The method by which the structures were shown to participants – in the form of a single two-dimensional photograph – may have something to do with the outcome. Top winners seemed to reflect some sort of national or political iconography. How can a structure, in its entire intricate design and function, be reduced to one 4” by 6” glossy?

But maybe the results also have something to do with the way Americans have come to think about the place we inhabit. Would we rather spend our time in a façade of granite that looks nice in textbooks than a structure of beauty, design, and architectural purity that serves as the landscape of our modern cities?

I don’t know about you, but I rather live in the natural elegance of Fallingwater, than the fleeting glitz and glamour of a Las Vegas slot machine.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Learn from Chicago - #2 Is A Winner Too

Da Bears did not play good defense today - not normal for Smashmouth Chicago defense, and so the Monsters finish in Second place. In my opinion, #2 in any field is great. I have always pride my self on being #2 and once or twice being #1 - like in 2004 when I finished as the #1 seller in Seattle real estate sales. Oh, and a few tourneys in tennis, too.

Today, Tony Dungy and Indianapolis are #1. They proved all the doubters wrong and rolled off one of the most feared defenses in the NFL. Chicago simply could not defend Payton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts running game. So the team of destiny today was not Chicago, but they will have their moment soon enough, I'm sure of it. These are not the Bad News Bears, but a team of great heart and admiration.

Like football, success in real estate has its roots in great defense. Going on the offensive doesn't get you a lot of fans like it does in the NFL. Being defensive in real estate sales - or in any profession, for that matter - means being wary of the competition. We need to learn from our adversaries and not let them run all over us. We need to know what their advantages are, we need to defend against their strengths, and play to our strengths. We should never be offensive shall we, never. Be sweet, be honest, but importantly be smart. Play to win, every match, every deal, every client. There is an amazing amount of competition in the real estate industry today. Not only do agents have to compete with other real estate agents, but also Internet-based models, multi-billion dollar companies, and innovative new start-ups. Everyone seems to be going after their market share and commissions.

Not only do agents need websites these days, but they need to out play the competition with gadget plays, with new technology. Play on your strengths to beat Zillow and other real estate companies with better local market info, friendlier websites, and innovative tools to better serve your clients.

Those tools are out there. Just look at and We're doing our best to stay ahead of the game, using every tactic in our play book to get the ball in the end zone.

Our motto is Go, Agent, Go! That's just about what I was saying when Devin Hester ran back the opening kick-off. Let us learn from the #2 Bears - be quick like Hester, be strong like Urlacher, and be smart like Lovie. It's about time that the lil' guys grab some take-aways from the big national firms. Let us be your defensive (and offensive) coordinator.