Welcome to your (badly designed) world

By Bruce Firestone | Uncategorized

Aug 19

I have long maintained that architects have all but abandoned urban design to people who are uniquely unqualified to do that job–urban planners, and traffic engineers, as well as local, state and provincial politicians, ministries, departments and boards who oversee them.

If you want to create built forms and the public room that they all share/create between them that are wondrous, and that function well both from an economic as well as a social and environmental point of view, then the profession of architecture should seize back control because they actually (some of them) know something about design.

And design/branding matters… that is, if you really want to create places that the people who live/work/learn/play/entertain/make/shop there actually care about.

It’s why I reinforce time and time again for the people I coach in real estate (investors, developers, renovators, owner-occupiers, entrepreneurs, financiers, planners, engineers, architects, stagers, mortgage brokers, lawyers…) that they should spend as much time on the beauty of the spaces and structures–their animation and differentiation–they are creating as on their ROIs, spreadsheets, cap rates, IRRs, compliance with building codes, construction costs, revenue streams and so forth. 

If we gave as much care and thought to what a $400,000 building looked and felt like, how it functioned, as, say, a $600 iPhone, we’d do much better in terms of urban place-making…

We should–as investors, owners, developers, contractors, trades-persons, renovators, users, consumers–be creating “products” that are recognizably branded/differentiated/animated distinctively as our own. There’s no doubt that those that do will have much greater levels of success in terms of obtaining better and happier/more productive tenants/buyers/visitors, getting higher appraised values/sale prices as well as loan to value ratios plus they’ll attract more capital at a lower cost with better terms and conditions. In addition, they’ll add value to the public room (because their built forms relate better to spaces between structures as well as perform better) creating positive externalities for their neighbors, their communities, their cities and towns. 

And whether you are an investor or developer, if you concentrate on one excellent product repeated 30 times, you’ll do a whole lot better, in my experience, than doing 30 different projects, one time each. Human beings just perform better (and so do their products/endeavors) when they do two things–focus and iterate. 

Here’s an excerpt from Sarah William Goldhagen’s Welcome to your world, how the built environment shapes our lives (HarperCollins 2017) that elaborates on this:

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Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD, Century 21 Explorer Realty Inc broker, Ottawa Senators founder, Real Estate Investment and Business coach 1-613-762-8884 bruce.firestone@century21.ca twitter.com/ProfBruce profbruce.tumblr.com/archive brucemfirestone.com

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