Friday, July 22, 2011

What I Learned from AD

I have been a closet architect for many years. That doesn't mean I dream up design solutions for Imelda Marcos' shoe collection. It means that I have an appreciation for art, design, space and synthesis; and also that I wish now that I had taken a different path in college.

I considered architecture as a major in college, but my university did not offer it. I could have transferred out after two years to pursue a degree in architecture, but for a variety of reasons, it didn't happen.

Three years ago my wife had the option of ordering a magazine as part of some promotional deal or charity event. Ever thoughtful, she chose a one year subscription to Architectural Digest for me.

I was over the moon, to say the least. I had never once seen a copy of the magazine, but the name made me think of something polished and professional, something that discussed the newest trends in architecture without losing sight of the historical foundation from which these new trends arose, something you'd find in an architectural firm lying around to prove how professional the firm really was.

About 10 months into the subscription, we ordered light fixtures from Rejuvenation, and they had a promotion which gave a free year's subscription to Architectural Digest for any customer's who bought over a certain dollar amount. About year after that we bought more from Rejuvenation, and again, it extended my subscription for a year. The upshot of all of this is that I've had the opportunity to see about three year's worth of Architectural Digest, without actually paying a subscription fee.

Finally, this month was my last issue, so I thought I would try and summarize what I've learned from Architectural Digest in the last three years.

  • White is a very popular color in good architecture.
  • Good architecture is mostly about interior design - the colors, the fabrics and the accessories.
  • Building placement is important. Good architecture is almost always located by a big body of water. The ocean is best. If you can incorporate an infinity edge pool, you get extra points.
  • If you own sculptures and paintings that are created by world renowned artists (Rodin, Picasso, Rembrandt), you leave them hanging on your living room wall, or sitting upon a credenza in your office.
  • Surprisingly, historic European estates are significantly cheaper than modern estates located near modern metropolises. I found a 17th century Scottish castle for about $10 million, while a 3,500 square foot, modern house near New York was $21 million.
  • If you live in New York city, especially Manhattan, and the opportunity arises for you to purchase your neighbor's apartment, do so immediately. You can knock down walls and have a stunning apartment. You get extra points if you can purchase and incorporate several adjoining apartments.
  • The majority of people who own good architecture do NOT have children, or at least do not plan their architecture around their children.
  • A good designer can be used to help re-decorate almost anything, e.g. houses, pool houses, guest houses, planes or yachts.
  • If you can't find a neighborhood to live in that suits you, sometimes it's just better to buy several hundred or thousand acres and start up your own gated community that reflects the architecture and values you'd like.
  • Only rich people can own good architecture. Also from what I can gather, many rich people who own good architecture are actors, directors, investment bankers, venture capitalists, or directors at charitable foundations.
  • Homosexuals make great designers and designers make great homosexuals.
  • Rich homosexuals are at the top of the heap when it comes to good architecture.

About forty percent of AD I really enjoyed, but it was not the magazine I thought it was going to be.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Local Factory Sold

I haven't been blogging much lately. As I continue to complete tasks for the house and learn about all the things that I was so blissfully ignorant of for the first 30+ years of my life (calcimine paint, picture rail, asbestos shingles, double hung windows, lathe and plaster, etc.), all those topics that originally seemed fodder for a posting are now commonplace. I don't blog about them for the same reason I don't blog about changing the oil in the car or mowing the lawn. They are just part of every day life. But events still occur which are newsworthy.

After hearing rumors swirling for several weeks, I finally got confirmation - the nearby factory has been sold. When we bought our house in 2007, it employed 600 people, and then by the end of 2008, it shut down. Since then the parent company has been trying to sell it with one caveat - they would not sell it to someone who could use it to manufacture the same product.

Imagine that there's a factory that is custom designed to make widgets. Widget Inc. decides to close it and won't sell it to anyone else who makes widgets. Being highly specialized, it is difficult to convert the factory into making anything else. Its not surprising that it took this long for the factory to be sold. What really surprised me was who it was sold to.

It was sold to a Canadian metal recycling company who specializes in the demolition and recycling of building sites. There's no official word on what happens next, but if I was a betting man, I'd say the days of the factory are numbered.