• Chicago Spire takes its show on the road to win over international buyers. Shelbourne Development, the developer of the Chicago Spire is almost midway through an elaborate international road show, hoping to import buyers for what would be the world’s loftiest residential building. While the U.S. housing market is at low ebb, and a credit crisis has made money scarce for many big projects, international investors represent a potential source of prospects for the high-profile Spire.
• San Francisco’s green building code costly, city report says. San Francisco has drawn national attention for proposing tough, environmentally friendly building codes, but those standards could decrease the city’s economic output by as much as $700 million a year, a city report shows. The city’s Office of Economic Analysis report concluded that the higher costs of constructing environmentally sustainable buildings would translate to higher housing prices and commercial rents, slow construction rates, and possibly discourage businesses from locating and expanding in the city.
• UN’s temporary headquarters to look like a Wal-Mart. The United Nations has broken ground on an intentionally ugly three-story building that will serve as temporary space while its New York headquarters gets refurbished. The UN put the construction and demolition cost of the temporary structure into the headquarters’ $1.9 billion renovation budget and told Michael Adlerstein, the project’s head architect, to make it an eyesore. “It’s going to be in the same style as a Costco or Wal-Mart,” Adlerstein said.
• German design critic labels U.S. embassy in Berlin 'The Pancake.’ After years of delays, the scaffolding has finally been removed from the U.S. embassy in Berlin, and the emerging form has triggered a debate. Berlin architecture critic Gerwin Zohlen called the embassy design “boring” and has nicknamed it “The Pancake.” The building will be dedicated July 4.
• Baltimore revitalization stalls as economy worsens.With the economy stalling, more than $1 billion in projects that were designed to help revitalize Baltimore have been put on hold. The projects included two planned condominium and hotel skyscrapers at the city’s Inner Harbor and new residential projects in Charles Village and Greektown.
• Green jail controversy in Wisconsin. Officials in La Crosse County, Wis., are debating the greenness of a $29.5 million jail addition that was approved last fall. Now the county board is now divided over whether taxpayers should pay the cost of adding green features, while others say tight budgets call for a more energy-efficient structure.
• San Francisco’s first 100% off-grid building completed. The EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park is San Francisco’s first 100% off-grid green building. The LEED-certified building is completely self-sufficient through its solar panels and wind turbine.