In order to diferentiate their residential projects from one another as competition increases, developers are enlisting the services of name-architects…a.k.a. Starchitects. I wrote an article [Miller Samuel] on the phenomenon in the current issue of New York Living magazine which I periodically write articles for. [shameless plug -ed]

The use of Starchitects is growing in popularity as a marketing tool nationwide as inventory increases. It is also an added soft cost, so the use of this branding vehicle is placing more pressure on the bottom line.

I suspect that the growing cost of development (land prices, construction costs, along with marketing costs) will significantly stifle new products in the planning stages in the near future.

Here’s an excerpt:

The current Manhattan real estate new development scene is all about who instead of what. Branding has reached the housing market as a necessary and effective marketing tool to differentiate development projects as they enter the market. The housing boom prompted the explosive growth in creativity with condominium design as capital became more readily available to developers. This shift has been seen as a big step in a market that historically paid more attention to the exterior, rather than the interior of a building. Marketing has now morphed into the whole package, both inside and outside, including common areas and ancillary services. This creative packaging now includes bringing in a brand-name architect or other professional to leverage their reputation as an enhancement to the development….

One Response to “Starchitects Get Top Billing And Top Billings”

  1. Robert Schwartz says:

    This is not good news. Starchitects usually put visible design way ahead of functionality:

    Last year Paul Sinclaire, president of a retail investment group in Toronto, sold his second-floor condo in the north tower of the Meier buildings on Perry Street after spending a total of only six weeks there in the year and a half he owned the apartment. Besides rain leaks and construction problems at the building, the novelty of glass walls wears off, Mr. Sinclaire said.

    The Life Transparent by Mokoto Rich, The New York Times, January 13, 2005

    In my town, we have two buildings designed by starchitect Peter Eisenman. They have both been functional disasters:

    One of them had to be rebuilt. When asked about the rebuilding Eisenman said:

    But the building’s original creator says he is unconcerned. “There’s not an architect I know that doesn’t have problems with important buildings,” Mr. Eisenman said in a recent interview in his New York office. He cited a comment that Frank Lloyd Wright is said to have made when a client called to complain that a house was leaking: You mean you left my building out in the rain? “Do you know any architect that’s been free of that? I don’t know any,” Mr. Eisenman said. “Frank, Rem – they all do,” he said, referring to Frank Gehry and Rem Koolhaas. “Wright, Corbu, Mies. Look at Mies and the Farnsworth House – enormous problems.”

    Extreme Makeover: Museum Edition by Robin Pogrebin, NYTimes, September 18, 2005.

    When I lived in Chicago, people said that Mies Van Der Rohe lived in a conventional early 20th century apartment building across from his glass towers on Lake Shore Drive because he wanted to look at them, not live in them. Me too.