News Archive 2008
December 8, 2008
Writing for the Boston Globe, real estate commentator Scott Van Vorhis offered an optimistic long-term view of real estate, relying on quotes from MIT/CRE economist William Wheaton and other experts cited in a recent Wall Street Journal cover story (noted below). Vorhis' article has drawn a flood of responses, resulting in a rich and passionate online discussion among many readers exploring the current real estate crisis. Read article & comments.
December 2, 2008
Even in today's economic doldrums, surveys show many Americans seeing the real estate market as the way to wealth, expecting it to bounce back quickly -- in perhaps as little as six months. In a Wall Street Journal cover story, MIT/CRE professor Bill Wheaton is one of several experts who suggests that gains in housing prices over the next 10 to 20 years will be much more modest. Download story (pdf, 22 K) or visit WSJ online.
October 31, 2008
What if a house could evolve as the needs of its residents evolved -- expanding, contracting, or reconfiguring without contractors turning the house into a construction site? Kent Larson, director of MIT's Open Source Building Alliance, is one of a new breed of architects envisioning houses "not as immutable objects, expensive and painful to alter, but as flexible structures that can adapt to inevitable changes." Download article (pdf, 23K) or visit Boston Globe online.
August 7, 2008
Bloomberg reports that "there are 3.9 million unsold existing single-family homes, the most since at least 1982, when the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors started compiling the data." According to MIT/CRE economics professor William Wheaton, "the inventory of existing houses and condominiums must fall by almost 50 percent for prices to stabilize." Read full article.
August 5, 2008
"'What the current housing market needs is more sales, more transactions, and a return to liquidity with normal moving and mobility,' says William Wheaton, economics professor at MIT. 'This, coupled with continued low new construction, will reduce the inventory of unsold units and allow prices to stabilize and then recover.'" Read full article.
July 25, 2008
Until recently, architects created buildings, while urban planners organized space and infrastructure. That's changing as developers and governments seek prominent architects to do both – integrate buildings and spaces in plans that can be marketed as the visionary expression of a brand-name artist. "We are seeing an emergence of a new industry," says MIT/CRE professor Dennis Frenchman. "It's not real-estate development; it's not architecture; it's not city planning. All I can do is name it 'the city-building industry.' Download article (pdf, 141K) or visit WSJ online.
July 24, 2008
In a vacant lot in Midtown Manhattan, New York's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is currently exhibiting a show that explores the history of the prefabricated house. Entitled 'Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling,' the exhibit features the work Lawrence Sass, Assistant Professor in MIT's Department of Architecture. His 'Digitally Fabricated Housing for New Orleans' is made with plywood panels, and is precut with joints and notches, making it readily buildable using only a rubber mallet. Download article (pdf, 90K) or visit Architectural Record online.
April 1, 2008
"If you think Roberta Sydney was just handed real estate development and management company Sydney Associates by her dad, you’d be wrong. But if you think she carries on his tradition of being honest, decisive and trustworthy, you’d be right." Download article (pdf, 22K) or visit bostonherald.com.
WSJ Focuses on Wheaton, Who Suggests Fears of Housing Slump May Be Seriously Overdone
March 24, 2008
The Wall Street Journal spotlighted analysis by MIT/CRE Professor Bill Wheaton, who offered a brighter view of market conditons than the gloomy one now in vogue. The Journal noted Wheaton's sucessful record of independent thinking, reminding readers that "Mr. Wheaton is no perma-bull. Quite the reverse: he was warning about the coming real estate crash back when the usual hallejulah chorus were singing and clapping their hands." Download article (pdf, 23K) or visit WSJ online.
Reducing the CO2 Cost of Concrete: Christian Science Monitor Cites MIT Researcher
March 12, 2008
"Roughly 5 to 10 percent of global CO2 emissions are related to the manufacture and transportation of cement, a major ingredient of concrete.... "'There is not one single cement company on this planet that is not thinking about how to [reduce emissions]," says Franz-Josef Ulm, a professor of civil engineering who researches concrete at the Massachusetts Instituteof Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts." Download story (pdf, 30K) or read online.
Chronicle of Higher Education Blog Compares Two Iconic MIT Buildings: "Stunning" Difference
March 11, 2008
In Mary Jo Olenick's "A Tale of Two Buildings," the guest blogger for the Chronicle of Higher Education compares two of MIT's important new structures — the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Building, designed by Charles Correa Associates, and Frank Gehry’s Stata Center, located directly across the street. "The contrast in occupancy levels and human energy was stunning," Olenick said. Read full article.
ABC Radio Interviews Media Lab's Bill Mitchell on the Future of Architecture
March 8, 2008
The MIT Media Lab's Bill Mitchell has seen the future, and, well, you can't see it! "People think high-tech architecture of the 21st century is going to be some kind of Buck Rogers thing with all kinds of flashing lights and shiny tubes," Mitchell said, interviewed on Austrailia's ABC Radio. "But really good 21st century technology will disappear into your pocket and disappear into the woodwork . . . . The level of technological service will be very high but mostly you won't even see it," he said. Learn about Mitchell's vision for the integration of architecture and transportation. See also an MIT/CRE profile of his team's work on the revolutionary City Car.
Gale CEO Offers Inside Look at Record-Setting Projects
February 8, 2008
MIT/CRE was delighted to host a breakfast talk by John B. Hynes, III, CEO & Managing Partner of Gale International, as a part of the Center's Learning from Leaders series, a program of presentations by industry executives. Mr. Hynes opened the Boston office for Gale International in January 1999 and orchestrated the January 2004 sale of the One Lincoln office tower in Boston's Financial District -- the most valuable commercial real estate deal in Boston history. He shared the "back story" on that project and other Boston ventures, as well as the hugely ambitious Songdo City project in Incheon, Korea. See slideshow (pdf, 7.5M)
Boston Herald Cites MIT/CRE Indexes as "Commercial Real Estate Prices Tank"
February 6, 2008
"Commercial real estate prices are tumbling across the country in a decline not seen since the devastating recesson of the early 1990s, a new MIT report finds. The value of commercial real estate owned by major U.S. pension funds fell 5 percent in the fourth quarter, according to a commercial market index produced by the MIT Center for Real Estate. The drop was nearly twice the 2.5 percent decline seen in the third quarter." Read full article.
February 5, 2008
"The value of U.S. commercial real estate owned by big pension funds fell five percent in the fourth quarter of 2007, twice the drop of the third quarter, according to an index from the MIT Center for Real Estate. The transaction-based index (TBI) tracks the price at which big pension funds buy and sell commercial properties, which include shopping malls, apartment complexes and office buildings. The cumulative fall since last year’s midsummer peak is now more than 7 percent." Read full article.
February 5, 2008
"The value of U.S. commercial real estate owned by big pension funds fell another 5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007, according to an index produced by the MIT Center for Real Estate.... 'This is evidence that the commercial property market continued to fall, and at an accelerated rate, through the last quarter of 2007, no doubt due to the effects of the credit crunch,' said MIT Center for Real Estate Director David Geltner." Read full article.
Students' Visit to Middle East Generates Buzz in UAE
Posted January 29, 2008
MSRED students' recent trip to to the United Arab Emirates caught the eye of the local media! The Khaleej Times, one of the UAE's leading newspapers (with columnists that include Henry Kissinger), and zawya.com, a key online business news site, covered the 26 students' visit to Dubai, focusing on their meeting with with Rasis Developers LLC. Read a preview of the trip. View a travelogue in words & images!
Wheaton Quoted by Boston Herald on "Tepid" Demand for Office Space
January 23, 2008
"William Wheaton, an MIT economics professor, said job growth and demand for new office space in Boston, despite recent rent increases, have been relatively weak. A downshift in the economy will only intensify those trends. 'The bloom is off the rose,' Wheaton said. 'I would say demand is pretty tepid right now. If anything, that outlook is a little more bearish.'" Read full article.