Anyone else think the new construction slow down is a good thing?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums SUSTAINABILITY & DESIGN Anyone else think the new construction slow down is a good thing?

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • Author
  • #175086
    Deborah Godshall

    I don’t think we should be so quick to get the new housing market jump started back to what it was. If the administration is spending all this time, money and energy in hybrid cars and “green” everything, yet encouraging the destruction of farmland, the spread of houses far from the city etc. We should take this time to retool this industry as well and make it smarter!



    Good topic,see this discussion:

    Just in case you’re wondering why replies might come slowly to such an interesting topic.


    Deborah Godshall

    LOL, what’s a little drama?

    Stephen Gibson

    Here’s a twist – I think I agree with you – on some levels! I live in Irvine, California, and the housing market here before the big bust was VERY HEALTHY. Strawberry fields and avocado groves were turning into housing very quickly. The fields were also truning into apartments very quickly too, so from that perspective, I’m fine with the slow down because I know there are plenty of options of where people can live once they can no longer afford their homes – that’s the first priority – a roof over people’s heads. In examining the product and the process of housing, I think a cause for pause theoretically is a good thing in that it will hopefully give people the chance to think as you suggested. Particularly with the LEED for new construction launch in June and the residential version of LEED on the books too, I think there’s a lot of synergy with the timing here. There’s potential.

    Where my concern comes in is that during the time that development has been slowed, developers in general are waiting for that single moment when they are able to start making their millions again. They are going to be chomping at the bit to get started and when they do, I fear that they’ll head straight back to the processes and products that they had before because it’s a quick and easy jump start to their profit making again. I hope that there will be some companies out there that will use this time to re-evaluate what they do and how they do it, but I’m not holding my breath for it – money is too important to most. Particularly at the moment, I think the notion of retooling the industry as you suggested is far from the minds of many industry leaders. There are people like us who see the advantage and the perfection in the timing, but retooling takes money, which the industry at the moment doesn’t have.

    I hope I’m wrong! We have to wait and see what kind of “green” initiatives the current administration puts in place. In California at least, I believe, there was talk (perhaps action) towards making green building principles law. I don’t know how far this went. But it could be the start.

    Honestly, I hope the construction and housing market gets going quickly – I need the work!!! With that said, I’m already a convert and will be doing all my work with a “green” principled mind.

    I look forward to other opinions.


    Deborah Godshall

    Steve, I think LEED is great but I think we need to go farther towards conservation subdivisions, and even changing the actual land stripping activities. Development can be smart from the ground up!
    The almighty dollar is a real double edged sword. I’ve worked on many sides of this issue and know that if we could find a better way many developers would bite!


    I would have to agree that I have mixed feelings on the subject. First, I don’t have a problem with a construction slow down if that’s what it was but the economy has brought it to a dead stop. So many of my friends and colleagues are out of jobs right now because of it. Our office is half the size it once was due to the “slow down”. That being said I think there is merit in hoping the industry and development in general takes a step back and learns from past mistakes and improves the process going forward. I once lived in the Detroit Metro area and the City of Detroit would be a great case study for urban renewal. Instead of continuing to build outward they could once again look inward and redevelop the vast vacant areas of land within the city limits and redevelop areas that are in such a state of decay there is no saving them. This could help to reduce exurban expansion, the cost of commuting by bringing people closer to the city center etc. As Stephen mentioned, I am not going to hold my breath that developers and local governments will make a seizmic shift in the way they do business, but one can hope. Perhaps that should be part of a green initiative…maybe they should create incentives for redeveloping these areas I speak of rather than buying more land 100 miles from the city center which destroys farms and woodland to develop yet another homogenous subdivison known as “Way-the-hell-out-here Hills.

    Deborah Godshall

    Dennis, LOL I agree we as LAs are both the victim and the villan in this. I have been struck by how we (the us public) are quick to try to fix the sympoms such as hybrid cars etc instead of looking at the real cause of enviromental issues such as sprawl. We all find ourselves speaking out of both sides of our mouths when we give lip service to urban renewal or even intelligent subdivision design and then encourage bad systems such as big box stores, and greater developemtn just to keep someone employed.

    A peice of land adjoining my property was developed with money from a building supply house simply so he could sell more wood. I really have an issue with that. I saw it as pay back from the development “gods” for the designs I had done in the past before I knew better. LOL
    We, as a group, can make a difference!

    David J. Chirico

    Nick is using my previous posts as an example of what not to do…I’m offended!

    Seriously though, I saw an independant film last week that talks about this very topic. Overdevelopment at the risk of destroying something that could never be replaced. It’s called The Unforeseen came out in 2007 I think. I recommend it, its an eye opener.

    Deborah Godshall

    I’ll have to look for the film. Thanks
    The big question that I seem to have is can we have a booming economy WITHOUT covering every trace of buildable land with a house?

    Michelle Derviss

    No, I don’t agree that it is a good thing when you consider how devastating it has been for millions of families who are now without the basic human needs of adequate shelter and food.

    A crisis is never a good excuse to ‘retool’ it’s social fabric.

    If you are concerned with urban sprawl and the loss of farm land then this is your opportunity to work as a city and urban planner and try to make a difference.

    The construction slow down is tied to the overall economic crisis. This crisis has put mothers, fathers and their children on the street with no place to live and little to eat.
    So , no. I don’t think it is a good thing.

    If you see this crisis as an opportune time to make a positive change in our land use issues, our loss of wild life habitats , increased energy consumption and environmental pollution than I can support your viewpoint that now may be the time to instill some drastic changes in urban and regional planning and development.

    Deborah Godshall

    Your reply seems to assume that we need to keep building in order to have food and shelter? IMO a crisis is the perfect time to find solutions to what causes the problem in the first place. My assurtion is that we need to find a way to seporate the two. There also seems to be a tone that there is not enough housing. The glut of excess housing is what caused the price drop and morgage crisis. There may not be enough affordable housing, but there is plenty of housing. I also think that in many places there is plenty of affortable housing, it just is not desirable, thus affordable but unwanted….hegemony also plays a large role in affordable housing.
    Excellent disscussion.

    Daniel Miller

    I feel the construction hiatus will only benefit the profession long term. Yeah, right now it’s obvious it’s not doing anyone any good, but maybe this will jump start the profession and get us as a collective whole to begin thinking differently about the big picture. It seems that maybe, we’ve gotten comfortable with the age old processes and thought patterns that we are accustomed to, and kind of got “bored” with the whole thing. We need to re-structure our thought process and take much more of a leadership role in projects and influence the decision makers to be wise in regards to ecological planning and design.

    Unfortunately, it seems that as a majority, those who cut the checks have been and will always be more interested in what returns the most on their investment, and we, as a service based profession, will have a very difficult time turning away work (even in healthy economic times) because the project does not meet our environmental standards. I guess we just have to start implementing what we can and really push the wise decisions once the market slowly begins re-building. Let’s just hope the market never fully gets back to what it was, or else we’re probably in line for another big fall…

    Roland Beinert

    I agree that lack of affordable housing is more of a problem than not enough housing. Instead of decent affordable housing options, low income people were offered a choice between renting and owning huge homes with mortgages that seemed like a great deal at the time. I wonder if as many people would have opted to go for the huge home if they could have found smaller housing below $100,000 in the neighborhoods they wanted. We need to mix housing options like the new urbanists have been telling everybody for years.

    David J. Chirico

    Did you see the movie yet? I am anxious to discuss this film with people…

    Rico Flor

    Hi Debb.

    Having languished for so long in the University as a research associate, I lean towards finding the construction bust as rethinking, researching, refitting and retooling time. The Philippines went through such a construction bust around ’97-’98 and found the practicing faculty more receptive to new ideas, which IMO is better than prior to the bust with business as usual.

    Case in point, the thought of using coconut fiber geo-netting for soil stabilization seemed ridiculous and ripe for litigation to them, pre-bust period. Take into account that this geo-net production was practically backyard industry in some regions of the Philippines and should be cheaper than the PP and PET nets imported in our market then. Post-bust, they seemed receptive to the idea, and almost a decade hence, coco-fiber net use is not impossible anymore.

    UAE landscape developments, meanwhile, had been really rapid and the outputs that we see can sometimes manifest quality below par than expected. Though we do not relish the current, anxious atmosphere on job security, I see in the long run that the UAE brand of landscape architecture can take a turn for the better, on such points as: (1) local reckoning of landscape architecture: the concept is almost alien to the region, and we are in fact seen either as engineers, agriculturists, architects, or gardeners; (2) greening of the practice: the UAE started taking a serious look at LEED, and subsequently, other “sustainable rating standards” at 2006…the slowdown is making the authorities look into the standards more to avoid the previously unregulated pace of development while trying to maintain the cutting edge development and design UAE wants to project; lastly, (3) ridiculously high wages: good for the pocket, but I say bad for karma….look how greed somehow precipitated this credit crunch. The next development wave might be saner and smarter in terms of compensation packages.

    Hopefully, the good sides of this speculation applies also to other regions of the world, global as we are nowadays…

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Lost Password