Introducing the Change Order Podcast

Last year, I was commissioned to do a trend report about the future of housing. I was blessed with a client who imposed few restrictions in terms of what I explored. My areas of inquiry were determined by what was happening—and projected to happen—in the world of housing, not some predetermined conclusions shaped by a corporate agenda. Consequently, my inquiries led me down uncomfortable paths characterized by extreme housing shortages and unaffordability, inundated and sweltering cities, the presence of a digital Big Brother in every room in our homes, etc.

But these inquiries also led me to amazing men and women solving these seemingly intractable problems. As an ardent tracker of housing innovation, I was in heaven, meeting one brilliant thinker after the other, seeing novel architecture and design thinking, learning about amazing technology that could revolutionize how housing is made, used, financed, sold, and operated.  

Throughout the project, I kept thinking to myself, “I bet people would love to listen in on the conversations I’m having.” These conversations were not facile. They were seldom short. They often ended with more questions than they began with. They didn’t need to stop to define the terms REIT or thermal envelope.

And they weren’t strictly business conversations—often the conversations were about how these people were devising technical solutions for existential problems: how we can help people live easier through more affordable or better-designed housing, how we can build housing that lives in harmony with a planet on the brink of climate disaster, how we can come up with policy reform that makes all of these objectives possible. Whatever the specific character of the conversation, they were enlightening, both from a technical perspective and, ahem, a spiritual one—I felt heartened to know people were out there tackling big problems and designing some compelling solutions.     

The Change Order podcast is my attempt to keep these conversations going in the absence of an awesome, open-minded client paying me to do it (as always, I’m open to those too). My intention is to get together with folks at the vanguard of housing innovation—policymakers and activists, architects and engineers, developers and financiers, and people experimenting with novel ways of living that could have implications for mainstream housing.

You can find the podcast on Soundcloud where there are currently two podcasts: Ben Carlos Thypin and Stephen Smith (the latter is the infamous @marketurbanism on Twitter) from Open New York, NYC’s main YIMBY group, and Thomas Kosbau, all around great guy and founder of ORE Design + Technology, the firm behind DeKalb Market, 275 South, and a bunch more. More coming soon. To get updates, sign up for the email list. I also have an unpopulated Twitter and Instagram account here, because futureproofing. I encourage you to sign up to any and all.    

I really hope you give it a listen. Feel free to email me if you have suggestions, feedback, etc.

2019 looking like a big year for housing

Hey there, it’s been a long time. Good to see you. Lots of interesting developments in the world of housing innovation, policy, and affordability. Here are some:

Microsoft pledges $500M towards affordable housing in the Seattle Area. Seattle, like SF and other cities with scores of new, high paying tech jobs and no corresponding uptick in housing production, has a major affordable housing crisis. The pledge is ostensible penance for Microsoft’s part in creating the crisis.

While many laud Microsoft for its largesse, others wonder why they are doing this as a corporate entity? Instead, why aren’t they backing initiatives like last year’s proposal that would have levied large companies with a per-employee tax dedicated to homeless services and affordable housing construction (the same one Amazon put the kibosh on)?

Construction tech firm Katerra might be getting another cash infusion from the Softbank Vision Fund to the tune of $700M; this is on top of last year’s Softbank-led $865M D-round. The chatty cathies I know don’t have the greatest faith in Katerra—they say the scope of their ambitions is too great, they’re not staffed up, their initial projects have been fiascos, and they have an absentee CEO. For the sake of seeing further growth in this segment, I’m hoping these are mere growing pains and that Katerra’s promise corresponds with the gobs of cash it’s getting. 

Continue reading “2019 looking like a big year for housing”

Pizza + PropTech with David Friedlander and Dror Poleg

If you’re in NYC on Wednesday, May 30–or need an excuse to visit–come out to Pizza and PropTech. Dror Poleg and I will be giving short talks discussing the latest in real estate trends. You will be rounding out the conversation and consuming pizza. Please join us.

Purchase more info and tickets here.