Archive for the 'Surreal Estate' Category

Life in the fast lane

Gursky - Los Angeles

I’m attracted to the idea that civilizations are organisms that metabolize. I first came across this idea when reading a book about the history of the Anasazi, a sophisticated and complex society in the Southwestern desert region of the United States that collapsed suddenly. The book’s author suggested that the more centralized a society becomes, the more vulnerable it is to a sudden downfall because its metabolism increases beyond its ability to consume. i.e. the bigger you get, the more food you eat. The article below suggests that cities are indeed like biological organisms but behave differently. As they increase in size, rather than slowdown as an animal would, it consumes at an alarmingly higher rate. The study also argues that cities have a way of re-organzing themselves to adjust. In other words, cities are self-organzing, intelligent systems.
Scientists Discover Why Life Is Faster in Big Cities:

The researchers showed that city growth driven by wealth creation increases at a rate that is faster than exponential; the only way to avoid collapse as a population outstrips the finite resources available to it is through constant cycles of innovation. These effectively re-engineer the initial conditions of growth. But the greater the absolute population, the smaller the relative return on each such investment – new ideas must come ever faster. Thus, the bigger the city, the faster life is; but the rate at which life gets faster must itself accelerate to maintain the city as a growing concern so much so that to maintain growth, major innovations must now occur on time-scales that are significantly shorter than a human lifespan.

1Y0-259 is not as untenable as the variegated choices of 642-825 or 642-642. Still people prefer the latter series. Most of these lead to 640-801. A small number of courses also qualify one for 646-203.

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Sterling on “urban futurity”


Sci-fi writer Bruce Sterling on future cities. Here he surveys contemporary Belgrade, but demonstrates how the present future composts the past. What he writes is very similar to what I see in Rome. Life goes on, cities mutate, people adapt and change their environments.

(Via BoingBoing)

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The Global Urban Real Estate Boom – Newsweek: International Editions –

From San Francisco and Seattle to Moscow and Shanghai, prices for prime residential property are surging, even as overall national numbers in some markets continue to be depressed amid worries of global recession and a real-estate bubble. The triumph of the glamour cities turns conventional wisdom on its head—for quite a while, experts including Yale’s Robert Shiller have been predicting that these cities, having been hyped the most, would likely fall farthest, fastest. The decoupling of national and local real-estate trends, which were once much more closely linked, reflects the lives of the new “superprime” property buyers themselves, roughly 50 percent of whom are expatriates, according to the global-property research firm Jones Lang LaSalle. While globalization has allowed money, but not necessarily people, to roam the world more freely, Cañas and his colleagues are an exception—they float on a cushion of international capital, largely immune to regional concerns, and are flush with cash.

I found this article fascinating because when I lived in New York I saw on the ground exactly this phenomenon. As rents and property values grew, the amount of money being made by my friends and colleagues was going down. There was a “Disneylandificiation” going on in Manhattan, and I noticed the same thing in LA, San Francisco and Seattle. I knew locals weren’t driving the economy. So what gives?

I feel we are seeing the manifestation of what McLuhan described when he said all the megalopolises of the world were now connected by air travel which are now like sky subways. It is one continuous metropolis, networked by the global financial elites. Who are they? I’m not sure, but the article describes many coming from finance and insurance, maybe entertainment too. I’m now wondering if cities will also be a bit like walled city states with airports serving as the equivelent of castle gateways of medieval times. Only those with passports and papers and the means to travel by air will have access to these playgrounds. As for the service sector, they will continue to be illegals and a growing undereducated underclass. This is only one scenario, though, and I hope workers, artists and people who traditionally innovate continue to find their niches in beautiful and safe places.

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More Arabian surreal estate


As reported earlier, things are heating up in several oil rich countries on the Arabian peninsula to become new Vegas-like destinations of the global jet set (for what it’s worth, now Halliburton Co. is reportedly moving its headquarters to Dubai). Now Abu Dhabi is trying to outdo Dubai in capitalist swank, art being a new weapon of choice. Turns out the country inked a deal with France’s prestigious Louvre to build a new museum. The following article, though, discusses more in depth France’s strategy to promote its legacy around the globe through its cultural heritage. Also on tap is a Pompidou Center in Shanghai.

I’m not going to jump the gun and call this cultural imperialism, as may be the case in some knee-jerk circles. Rather, it’s befitting a trend in which the global arts market is already cross-polinating. Hardly an international biennial is dominated by Westerners anymore. Rather than the artists going to New York or London, for a change, let the art go to them. I would argue that the concept of an “avant-garde” is specific to the historical development of Western culture, but obviously is not limited to Western artists. For better or for worse it is now the visual and symbolic language of electronic media. My hope is that as stodgy art establishments interact more with global cultures that they will inevitably be changed by them; a reverse kind of colonization, if you will. Apparently, though, for some French, that’s a bit of as problem.

As for these new desert outposts in which the reality of the new global capitalist elite is being literally constructed, it remains to be seen what these “nonspaces” will produce culturally, or if they will remain deserts…. on the spiritual plane, or of the “real” as Baudrillard would put it. Incidentally.

PS If I were France, I’d hold off on shipping its cultural heritage until the US cools its heels. After all, there is a possibility of locating its treasures a stone’s throw from WWIII!
Plans for ‘Desert Louvre’ Provoke Outrage in France –

The Abu Dhabi Louvre will be housed in a French-designed, domed building resembling a giant flying saucer — or a mushroom, depending on one’s perspective. The complex, scheduled to be completed in five years, will include the world’s largest Guggenheim Museum, 29 luxury hotels and three marinas with berths for 10,000 yachts. Sheik Sultan bin Tahnoon al-Nahyan, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, said the emirate’s ambition is to “reach an arts and architectural level never before achieved.”

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Greening Vegas?


This video was written, edited, produced and directed by 12 year old Walees Crittendon, resident of Big Mountain.
Source: Indigenous Action Media

I think every step towards greening, as small as it might be, is a great (see linked article below). I’m still concerned, however, about the amount of electricity consumed by the Las Vegas strip. It has been many years since I’ve been there, but at the time of my last visit I recall experiencing one of the strangest sensations of my life: the hum of death. As you amble down the strip it is impossible to ignore a pervasive electrical crackle. The buzzing is visceral, eery, strange. Do others notice it? Hard to tell. Most are too drunk to even be aware that they are breathing.

Anyhow, do you know about the plants in Norther Arizona that slurry coal with rare desert ground water? And did you know that these operations effect Native American tribal resources? See, we still have a colonized interior in which indigenous people are exploited for the pleasure palaces of the rich (and wannabes). Hopi and Diné land in Northern Arizona has been the location of the most important coal operation in the region, an energy production complex forming the basis of the United States’ Southwestern power grid. Ironically, not only do many regional tribal members have no access to electricity (some by choice), coal is transported from the mines by slurrying: the pumping of crushed coal through pipes mixed with fresh drinking water that is rare and precious to the area’s inhabitants and for survival. That we would sacrifice our environment to power the bright neon and video screens of Las Vegas or sports stadiums of Phoenix says a lot about the current matrix between media, technology, ecology and Native Americans.

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From office space to theme park


I’d work here! The Encounter Restaurant at LAX

AdAge reports that some corporate offices are becoming hybrid spaces that are also lounges, bars and coffee shops. This buttresses the trend that we are increasingly moving into more “non-spaces” (see Remediation) that are required of knowledge work. In our post-work economy, we are producers and consumers of information simultaneously. There is a desire of information-based businesses to cultivate this creative kind of environment. The criticism is that there is less distinction between work and leisure. The threat is that even your spare time time is consumed by your workspace. As someone who works from my home, I have already made the transition, but at least in my case my creativity is my own (or so I believe).

Advertising Age – Office Space: Think Outside the Cubicle:

OK, you say, that’s Southern California, where Jay Chiat in the 1980s commissioned Frank Gehry to design Chiat/Day’s Venice, Calif., binocular headquarters. But that’s no excuse — just go to Missouri.

There, agency Barkley has made a pricey move from downtown Kansas City to the historic Trans World Airlines headquarters building in an up-and-coming art district. The space includes lots of spots for spontaneous get-togethers, client rooms, furniture styles unique to each floor, a grass-lined roof and, of course, the ultimate conversation-starter — a 32-foot reproduction of a TWA rocket on the landmark’s roof. The original TWA Moonliner rocket was built for a futuristic exhibit at Disneyland by entrepreneur Howard Hughes when he owned the airline. The rocket has been incorporated into the agency’s logo.

“An inspired space can produce inspired work,” said Brian Brooker, CEO-chief creative officer at Barkley, which handles Build-A-Bear Workshop and Sonic Drive-In. “It pays off in so many different ways. Great space makes our employees happy. It helps with recruiting, and clients like the vibe.”

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Surreal Estate USA: Orlando, FL

Photo by David Burnett, National Geographic

Yet another dispatch from the sci-fi front, this time brought to us by none other than Disney and Co.:

Disney World, Orlando Beyond Disney – National Geographic Magazine:

The Theme-Parking, Megachurching, Franchising, Exurbing, McMansioning of America: How Walt Disney Changed Everything

Everything happening to America today is happening here, and it’s far removed from the cookie-cutter suburbanization of life a generation ago. The Orlando region has become Exhibit A for the ascendant power of our cities’ exurbs: blobby coalescences of look-alike, overnight, amoeba-like concentrations of population far from city centers. These huge, sprawling communities are where more and more Americans choose to be, the place where job growth is fastest, home building is briskest, and malls and megachurches are multiplying as newcomers keep on coming. Who are all these people? They’re you, they’re me, and increasingly, they are nothing like the blue-eyed “Dick and Jane” of mythical suburban America.

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Sureal Estate: Dubai is the sci-fi capital of the world


Forget Vegas, forget Disney. Meet Dubai. Nice beach-front property, just a stone’s throw from Iran and WWIII. God willing for oil economy investors, may the Straits of Hormuz remain open and sea levels even.

If the above promotional video isn’t convincing enough (yes, it’s real), read a sample of Mike Davis‘ remarkable piece on Dubai, sci-fi capital of the world:

New Left Review – Mike Davis: Fear and Money in Dubai:

Welcome to a strange paradise. But where are you? Is this a new Margaret Atwood novel, Philip K. Dick’s unpublished sequel to Blade Runner or Donald Trump on acid? No. It is the Persian Gulf city-state of Dubai in 2010. After Shanghai (current population 15 million), Dubai (current population 1.5 million) is the planet’s biggest building site: an emerging dreamworld of conspicuous consumption and what the locals boast as ‘supreme lifestyles’. Despite its blast-furnace climate (on typical 120° summer days, the swankier hotels refrigerate their swimming pools) and edge-of-the-war-zone location, Dubai confidently predicts that its enchanted forest of 600 skyscrapers and malls will attract 15 million overseas visitors a year by 2010, three times as many as New York City. Emirates Airlines has placed a staggering $37-billion order for new Boeings and Airbuses to fly these tourists in and out of Dubai’s new global air hub, the vast Jebel Ali airport. [1] Indeed, thanks to a dying planet’s terminal addiction to Arabian oil, this former fishing village and smugglers’ cove proposes to become one of the world capitals of the 21st century. Favouring diamonds over rhinestones, Dubai has already surpassed that other desert arcade of capitalist desire, Las Vegas, both in sheer scale of spectacle and the profligate consumption of water and power.

And now for some video to flesh out the story:

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