•10,000th company joins USGBC. Earlier this month, FABMAC Homes of Hawaii became the 10,000th corporate member of the U.S. Green Building Council, the nonprofit organization that promulgates the LEED sustainability rating tool. As member companies, The Home Depot Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Starbucks Corp., and the 9,997 other firms may serve on committees that shape LEED and other USGBC programs.
•Architecture Billings Index jumps to highest level of the year. Following an almost three-point spike in May, the Architecture Billings Index zoomed up more than four points in June, reaching its highest mark of the year. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI shows an approximate 9-12 month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects reported the June ABI rating was 59.3 (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The index of inquiries for new projects was 62.6.
•Gehry to the rescue! Will aid revamp of Chicago's Inland Steel Building. Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Frank Gehry will consult on refurbishing the historic Inland Steel Building for a new owner. Capital Properties LP will buy the 1957 modernist building in Chicago for about $58 million, said Richard Cohen, a principal in the New York-based investment and development firm. The seller, a group that includes broker Harvey Camins, purchased the 19-story building for $44.5 million in 2005. Gehry, who helped arrange that purchase, was unhappy with that group's management of the property, the first downtown office designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
•Caesar's gets an even bigger palace. Harrah's Entertainment is planning a $1 billion expansion of its Caesar's Palace Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas. The centerpiece of the expansion is a new 665-room hotel called the Octavius Tower, which will be located adjacent to a new 263,000-square foot meeting and convention center. The facility will also get three new pools. Expected completion: early 2009.
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