Affa Acho

We Need Artisans Everywhere-Says Redan President

‘’Artisans play a vital role in our society and we need them everywhere’ ’These were the words of the President Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, Rev Ugochukwu Chime, when he spoke to Housing News reporters at the National Skills Expo/Construction Artisans Awards in Abuja.

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He said ‘’Artisans are the ones who even go to our bedrooms to fix our light, to fix our plumbing, and they play a vital role in our lives every day, they even breach our security, but we have never recognised this important part of our sector’’.

He noted that some of these reasons are the drive behind the National Skills Expo/Construction Artisans Awards. He said because of the key roles they play, it was necessary to have an event where they can showcase their skills and also be recognised.

He said ‘’they are Icons and Divas in their own field, because they have the skills to transform various elements to other elements, and these are skills we need in our society, so we need to inspire them and give them confidence, so that they can realise their potential’’

He added that with time the event will grow bigger and become an avenue where stakeholders in the construction will come to showcase their products and how they can be fixed.

Source: Affa Dickson Acho

National Skills Expo Will Impact Building Industry-NIOB President

The President, Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB),Bldr Kenneth Nduka, said the National Skills Expo, and Construction Artisans Awards will impact the building industry and the artisans especially in the quality of jobs done by the artisans.

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Nduka stated this during an interview with Housing News, on the sidelines of the National Skills Expo/Construction Artisans Awards, in Abuja.

He said ‘’the dream expectation is that it will impact on the industry, we want to see that Nigeria is using Competent artisans to deliver quality products, and the essence of this’’.

He stated further that the event will give some prestige to vocational and technical skills and urged artisans to hold their trade in high esteem among professionals in the building sector.

‘’We want artisans to know that they are equal and important stakeholders in the building and construction industry in Nigeria’’.

He added that ‘’this event is an opportunity for artisans to interface and exchange ideas and above all, show their potentials to the general public, in order to ensure that every building and construction project that comes out of Nigeria enjoys the input of professional artisans’’.

The National Skills Expo/Construction Artisans Awards, is part of a holistic strategy to generate excitement and interest in the construction trades.

The skills competition offers a unique opportunity for skilled artisans and apprentices to showcase the knowledge, skills and experience they have acquired over the years in order for them to be celebrated by their employers, friends, families as well as communities.

According to Project Coordinator, Construction Skills Empowerment Project (CSTEmp) Mr Anthony Okwa, construction is still essentially a craft-based profession, they are partnering with various organizations to train artisans to inculcate in them skills that will ensure best practice, optimum output and quality in their works.

With the efforts so far being made to boost the skills of artisans, Okwa disclosed that in the nearest future, Nigeria would have some of the best artisans in the world.

Source: Affa Dickson Acho

Ministry of Environment to partner communities on biodiversity conservation

The Federal Government has concluded arrangements aimed at involving local communities in the area of sustainable conservation of wildlife.

Already, National Park Service (NPS) has started working out modalities to create awareness and encourage the public to stop the destruction of biodiversity in the country.

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Minister of Environment, Suleiman Zarma, who revealed this during a visit to Conservator- General of NPS, Ibrahim Goni, in Abuja said discussions are ongoing to improve relationship with host communities.

He added that the government was planning building synergy with them to ensure that both are serving the same purpose and have common grounds that we need to cover.

“We have to do that arrangements, it is not an option, rather we are collaborating with stakeholders, and relevant agencies under the ministry. This is non-negotiable in order to move forward.”

Zarma explained: “ We can stop poachers from coming into the parks. It would mean spending money to train them in the act of living and protecting wildlife in their domain.

According to him, the government wanted to bring them on board, engage them to build community that could coexist with wildlife, and to contribute to preserving the environment.

On his part, NPS Conservator-General, Ibrahim Goni reiterated their plans for the preservation of wildlife, adding that they would work with local communities to conserve nature.

He noted that this would address current threats such as wildlife poaching, wild fire, and environmental degradation, and it would offer increased communities involvement in conservation.

“We have sponsored few community nurses because sometimes when the government transfers medical personnel to these areas they do not response immediately,’ he stressed.

Conservator-general argued that they are looking at conservation through sustainable farming to see how to improve farmers’ skills so that a small area of land could yield more for them.

NIESV Commends Echostone On New Technology

The Lagos state branch of Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) has given nod to the new technology being applied by Echostone Nigeria Limited in the delivery of 4-in-14 housing project initiative.

Chairman of the state NIESV, Esv. Olurogba Orimalade, alongside other executives, gave the nod while inspecting the startup project site in Idale, Badagry, where the firm is partnering with Lagos state government to tackle the housing deficit in the state.

According to Orimalade, the use of technology in house construction has fastened the pace and enhanced concrete quality. “Like they say to see is to believe. We are thrilled and fascinated by what we are seeing, how you can use technology to be able to roll out homes at quick rates. For us professional in the building environment, it is something that gladdens our hearts and we would like other partners in the construction industry to see and emulate,” he said.

He noted that the technology processes are quite simple, and there is no major difference between the manual home construction and technology.

“Cement and other ingredients of building a house are still being used but the key thing is that extra element of technology that is being deployed to not just quicken pace of delivery of the houses but to solid the concrete itself. All in all, it not a move away from the norm before but just that there is the element of technology that is helping to quicken the pace of delivery,” Orimalade added.

Speaking with journalists, the Chief Executive Officer, Echostone Nigeria Limited, Mr. Sammy Adigun, said the company aims at delivering affordable homes to low income with full infrastructure.

He added that the public-private partnership initiative is aimed at providing 100,000 affordable homes in five years with modern day technology.

He said, “Our home starts from N3million for the studio homes. We will not sell any home more than N13million, and they will be of very high quality with good infrastructures. Our partnership with Lagos State Ministry of Housing is to provide 20,000 homes in a year, which has not happened before.”

On what the firm is bringing into the Nigerian building market, he said, “We are bringing affordability, technology transfer, mortgage, funding. People can own our home with as little as N30,000 per month. We intend to achieve this through the rent-to-home ownership strategy. This year, our plan is 20,000 homes,” Adigun added.

According to him, the company hopes to achieve the 20,000 home in partnership with Lagos State government through the Family Home Fund and the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Company (NMRC).

He explained that another value proposition the company is bringing into the market is urban renewal and energy saving. He stated that the life span of the home is 50 years, adding that the houses come fitted with state-of-the-art facilities.

Here in Idale, Badagry we plan to construct 250 units of two bedroom detached bungalows.

“In all, our plan is to construct 2,000 housing units in three Local Government Areas we are currently working in the state — Ayobo in Alimosho, Imota in Ikorodu, and Idale in Badagry. We are also looking at doing one behind the Ojo military cantonment, which will help reach the Festival Town (FESTAC).”

Three States To Partner FG On FISH Programme

Conceptualised in 2013 as part of government’s initiatives to address the housing needs of civil servants, the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) programme has since undergone several reviews to overcome initial hurdles in order to accelerate the implementation

Notwithstanding concerns over the high cost of the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) programme, three states have indicated interest to partner the Federal Government on the scheme and to provide housing for the teeming Nigeria civil servants.

The three States, namely Cross River, Nassarawa and Niger have formally signified intention to be part of the scheme. According to the source, the office has received interests from these states but is yet to tidy up modalities for their participation.

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“We’re also working to ensure that all applications for the programme are properly scrutinized to eliminate fake documents”, he said.The programme targets 30,000 houses for the civil servants through the Federal government social housing scheme.

Conceived in 2013 as a veritable means of bridging the nation’s 17 million housing gap by providing mass housing for federal civil servants in Nigeria, the programme is part of government’s initiative toward addressing the housing needs of Civil Servants, particularly those at the lower cadre who are unable to own their own houses due to the costs of land acquisition, building and purchase.

Already, FISH Estates I and 2, in Kuje, Abuja have been commissioned, while those at Karu are to be commissioned soon.

But the high cost of the houses being superintended by private developers meant that an average low cadre civil servant might not be able to access the programme.

Some of the subscribers, who raised the concerns in Abuja lamented that it is still exorbitant.At present, the unit price for the three bedroom ranges from N9million to N13 million depending on location.A civil servant with the federal ministry of works, said government has to do more to reduce the cost.

The source from the office of the head of service however said the programme operates in line with Federal Mortgage bank directive that those who want to access the facility will pay 10 per cent of the total cost.

He said it used to be about 25 per cent before it was changed last year to enable more workers access the programme.

According to the source, the FISH programme does not have fund of its own but process subscribers from the Federal Mortgage Board of Nigeria (FMBN), the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board, National Housing Fund and mortgage institutions.

He stressed that government is planning to give land and once this happens, the price will drop, as the only thing they will need is the construction finance.

“ If Government has the buoyancy, it will provide the construction finance or we go to the private commercial banks and discuss with them because it is a mass housing project”, he said.

He also explained that the project is not limited to Abuja as it is expanding to other states.“For instance, we had a project in Lagos and we visited last December to see how far the developer has gone.

The two FISH Estates in Kuje have a total of one hundred and fifty-one housing units, and thirty-two beneficiaries have been given keys to their houses.

“There are on going projects in Kurudu, Kashi and Karu. So many people are still constructing the houses; some have reached 70 per cent, some 40 percent. It is stage by stage; most of them are financing it from construction finances.

“The programme is open to all cadre of civil servants with steady salary and are contributing to NHF through monthly deductions.

“ By the time we stabilizes, private sectors will come on board. Already developers, are applying to join the programme, we ensure that they have lands. Some will say they have finances and lands, others have existing estates, what we need is to partner with government and then you bring civil servants, we now go to check the estate and make sure that their documentations are in order, approvals, the type of buildings.

“We are concerned with the quality of the building. You will be surprise the type of building we are bringing in at a low price. When developers know that you are flooding the market with buildings, the prices will also collapse but when there is scarcity in supply, the prices will shoot up. We are really working on that seriously.

The problem, we have is that every body want to stay in city centre, people need to understand that not everybody will stay in the centre.

It means we have to expand from the city -centre to the outskirts or we will be talking about high rising buildings which is more costlier”, he added. Concerns over housing deficits date back to 1991, when Nigeria was said to have housing deficit of seven million units.

Since then, the deficits in housing requirements have been growing at 5.8 per cent per annum, which has given rise to a slum population estimated at about 70 per cent.

To address the deficits, various governments through national development plans have made frantic efforts in ensuring adequate mass housing, especially in urban areas.Like every administration before, the present Government’s effort still fall short of meeting the nation’s housing expectations.

For instance, contrary to its promise in 2016 to build 5,000 housing units for workers in the public sector in the 36 states every year for the next three years, the government seem to have deviated from that direction as it announced last August, that it had commenced 2,736 new housing units in 33 states across the country.

The government also initiated Nigeria Housing Fund Programme (NHFP) under the Social Investment Fund of the Federal Government, in which N100 billion was set aside for its commencement.

The scheme is coordinated by the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure access to housing finance by prospective homeowners.

The Federal Government also earmarked N35.4 billion for housing in the 2018 budget for its workforce under the National Housing Programme. In view of this repulsive trend, the World Bank, in 2016, projected that it would cost the country about N59.5 trillion to address the housing deficits.

Worst hit are low cadre civil servants, whose dreams of owing a home have been dashed by the high cost of construction and mortgage rates.

But experts said the Federal Integrated Staff Housing (FISH) programme initiated by the Office of Head of Service has rekindled the hope of meeting the housing needs of civil servants.

The Executive Secretary of Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board, Dr. (Mrs.) Hannatu Fika, said it is the responsibility of the Board to ensure the successful implementation of the FISH programme through provision of loans.

She revealed that the estate constructed by C2Q Property & Investment Co. Ltd, in Kuje was fully funded through the Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Scheme.

Also, the Head of service, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita described the FISH programme as a dream come true, noting that the scheme is to provide quality and affordable housing for Civil Servants.

According to her, the overall objective of the FISH programme is to improve the quality of life of Civil Servants and their families, which will help foster a multiplier effect on the economy and reduce corruption in the public service in line with the Federal Government’s anti-corruption drive.

“As you can all testify, housing is a basic human need central to wellbeing. The importance of FISH programme, therefore, cannot be overemphasized,” she said.

She also said the office has introduced the rent to own model where people stay in the houses and they start deducting some percentage from their salary over a period of 10-20 years.

Mrs. Oyo-Ita further explained that her office is making efforts to secure bulk land allocation from Federal Capital Territory and other State Governments, which will drastically reduce the cost of housing for Civil Servants across the country.

One of the partners, the Managing Director of Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, Ahmed M. Dangiwa, said the bank was pleased to partner with the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation on the FISH programme.

He disclosed that the FISH Estate II, Kuje with 86 houses was financed by the bank and uploaded on FISH programme on rent-to-own model

Construction Artisans Awards Begins In Grand Style In Abuja

The maiden edition of Nigeria Skills Expo and Construction Artisans Awards commenced in Abuja today. The two-day event will feature participants from the six geo-political zones in the country, competing in 7 major building trades.

While delivering his welcome address, the President, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria(REDAN),and Chairman Board of Trustees of C-STEmp, Rev Ugochukwu Chime, noted that the event is not only capable of turning around the lives of artisans for the better, but will also improve the construction industry.

He said ‘’the event will herald a remarkable transformation not only in the lives of many of our compatriots, especially the target beneficiaries, who are the teeming masses of unemployed youth and other stakeholders, but also in the performance of the construction industry and the quality of the built environment’’.

Speaking further, he said the issue of unemployment can be addressed through technical and vocational education. ‘’As a nation, we are living witnesses to the frustration, anger and confusion in the land, which we believe can be addressed through vocational skills acquisition especially in the construction sector which has huge employment generation prospects’’.

He added that ‘’a deliberate recourse and refocusing on Vocational Skills development offers the best and quickest means to retracing our steps from the precipe of socio-economic disaster to full realization of the economic potentials God has endowed this country with.’’

‘’The primary challenge to Vocational skills development, stems from the negative social image, perception and attractiveness of Technical and Vocational Education and Training(TVET),not only in less developed countries like Nigeria, but also in developed countries’’.

Rev Chime commended the active support of major stakeholders like the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), National Social Investment Office (NSIO) Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON) and Nigeria Institute of Builders (NIOB), the Federation of the Construction Industry, (FOCI) and Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN).

Dignitaries at the event included; Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Education, Arc Sunny Echono, Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation and Youth Development, Afolabi Imoukhuede, Veteran Architect, Arc Gabriel Aduku, President Nigeria Institute of Builders(NIOB) Bldr Kenneth Nduka, and CEO, Construction Industry Training Board of Northern Ireland(CITB NI)Mr Barry Neilson.

Others dignitaries present included; Representative of the President, Federation of the Construction Industry, (FOCI),Mrs Bunmi Adekoju, Representative of the Chairman of Council of Registered Builders of Nigeria (CORBON)Engr Samson Opaluwah and Hon Bala Kaoje.

The Construction Artisans Awards (CAA) was conceived as part of a holistic strategy to generate excitement and interest in the construction trades. It will bring over 15,000 artisans and up to 5,000 spectators, visitors and stakeholders together as well as millions of viewers globally through broadcast on international and national television and the internet.

The skills competitions offers a unique opportunity for skilled Artisans and apprentices to showcase the knowledge, skills and experience they have acquired over the years in order for them to be celebrated by their employers, friends, families as well as communities.

The awards also offers construction companies, real estate developers, equipment and tools as well as materials manufacturers to showcase their products and demonstrate their commitment to quality craftsmanship by showcasing their products and services especially to the artisans who not only directly handle them, but very often determine their patronage.

Features of the Small Scale Building Materials Production Workshop are;

  • Paint Making – Emulsion paints, textured paints, Sandtex paints
  • 3D Wall Decoration And Embossment
  • Cracked Tile Production – various floor and wall tiles
  • Production of white glue or wood adhesive
  • Production of particle boards, partitioning boards and suspended ceiling
  • Making various types of sand paper
  • Production of interlocking tiles and pavement tiles
  • Production of polystyrene boards, parapet boards and decorative materials
  • Mould making and designs
  • 1 Demonstration of how to make stone coated roof tiles

The 7 categories of the awards are;

  • Best artisan in Masonry, concreting and plastering
  • Best artisan in carpentry and joinery
  • Best artisan in welding and steel fabrication
  • Best artisan in plumbing installation
  • Best artisan in electrical installation
  • Best artisan in tiling and decorative stone work
  • Best artisan in painting and decoration

The best Artisan will receive One Million Naira, a complete tool kit Set, and automatic employment. While the best female Artisan and best young artisan will go home with N500, 000 and N100, 000 respectively.

Source: Affa Dickson Acho

Experts Advocate Measures to improve ease of doing real estate business

In apparent bid to overcome obstacles limiting Federal Government’s ease of doing business in the real estate sector, global experts and bigwigs met in Lagos at the weekend to review its implementation in the industry.

They agreed that the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index has impacted positively on the market, but a lot still need to be done in attracting foreign direct investment into the market, especially in creating an enabling environment for the real estate sector.

After setting up the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Nigeria has registered a historic improvement in latest ranking for Ease of Doing Business, released last year by the World Bank. The overall ranking jumped from the 170th to the 145th place out of 190 countries.

In apparent bid to overcome obstacles limiting Federal Government’s ease of doing business in the real estate sector, global experts and bigwigs met in Lagos at the weekend to review its implementation in the industry.
They agreed that the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index has impacted positively on the market, but a lot still need to be done in attracting foreign direct investment into the market, especially in creating an enabling environment for the real estate sector.

After setting up the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), Nigeria has registered a historic improvement in latest ranking for Ease of Doing Business, released last year by the World Bank. The overall ranking jumped from the 170th to the 145th place out of 190 countries.

It is a known fact that the Nigerian real estate sector remains unorganized and fragmented, which has historically made foreign investors reluctant to make large-scale investments into it.

The insufficient sources of funds has also exacerbated the liquidity crunch of developers and slowed down the sector’s recovery from recession.

According to them, a new reform such as introduction of technology in the sector that will eliminate bureaucracy in the issuance of permits and will boost confidence of global investors in the sector as well as ensure influx of foreign investments.

FIABCI-Nigeria President, Mr. Adeniji Adele who set the tune for the discussion said the forum was one of the association’s ways of providing access and opportunities for real estate professionals interested in gaining knowledge, sharing information and conducting international business with each other.

He said: “The specific reforms spearheaded by PEBEC have yielded positive results as evidenced by World Bank’s 2018 Ease of Doing Business Index.

“We have been able to realize that effective collaborations among players in the private and pubic sectors can create enabling path of growth to contribute its quota to the nation’s economic development, which enhances the ease of doing more business within and among industry and professionals locally and in diaspora.”

While World president of FIABCI international, Mr. Assen Makedonov said that the use of block chain technology will reduce corruption in the real estate and bring about transparency.

The immediate past president FIABCI international, Mr. Farook Manhood said, when government embraces technology, there will be transparency and less bureaucracy.

He noted that several opportunities abound in the real estate, if there is ease of doing business, which includes foreign direct investment. Manhood called for the elimination of double taxation policies in the industry.

The Chief Executive Officer, Eximia Realty Company Limited, Hakeem Ogunniran, urged the government to reduce documentations needed for planning permits and multiple regulatory agencies in the built environment sector.

For a past president, Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV), Mr. Bode Adediji, all government policies should be holistic and ensure ease of doing business.

The Managing Director, Alphamead Group, Femi Akintunde, argued that the government has not demonstrated the capacity to reduce construction cost despite the new ranking by the World Bank.

He said that bureaucracy and delays in the issuance of certificate of occupancy, especially in the use of property for mortgage refinancing are hampering several property developments.

The Permanent Secretary, Lagos Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mrs. Boladele Dapo-Thomas stressed that building permit process in the state is not cumbersome. He urged the applicants to avoid the use of third parties.

She said that the state has improved planning permit application process via an e-planning platform.

All applicants enjoy reduced costs for permits due to the elimination of requirements for infrastructure development charge (IDC) for two floor warehouses, soil test and environmental impact assessment (EIA), certified true copy (CTC) of title document and survey plan.

Foreign Investment in Russian Real Estate Highest Since 2012, Report Says

Investment in Russia’s commercial real estate reportedly hit six-year highs last year in a sign of the once-booming market’s recovery from geopolitical tensions.

Foreign investment in Russian real estate took off in the 2000’s to reach 62 percent of all investment in the market between 2004 and 2008. Investment sentiment suffered after 2014 with Western sanctions over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis, the ruble’s volatility and plunging oil prices.

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Foreign investment in commercial real estate totaled 59.5 billion rubles ($899 million) in 2018, the RBC news website reported, citing figures from the Knight Frank consulting company.

According to the figures, foreign investment in real estate last year came second only to the 70 billion rubles invested in 2012.

Foreign transactions made up almost a quarter of all real estate investments (248.1 billion rubles) in Russia last year, the highest share since 2014, when it accounted for 39 percent, according to the reported data.

Knight Frank’s figures differ from other market analysts due to varying methodologies. According to RBC, consultancies Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) and CBRE estimate that only $2.8 billion was invested in commercial real estate, while Colliers International places the figure at $2.4 billion.

“Were there no sanctions, there would be many more foreign investors in the market at current prices and trends,” says Sayan Tsyrenov, PwC’s head of mergers and acquisitions advisory.

“Despite the upside, many others are still afraid to come to Russia as they fear increased sanctions pressure,” RBC quotes Tsyrenov as saying.


The 11 Biggest Scandals in Architecture History

While scandal doesn’t hit architects quite as often as, say, politicians, the architecture profession is not immune from controversy, fraud, and even cold-blooded murder. The distinguished field has its share of bad actors who have made news with their professional or personal wrongdoings. In fact, one of the biggest scandals of the 20th century revolved around architect Stanford White, partner in the legendary firm McKim, Mead & White, which was responsible for some of New York’s famous Beaux Arts buildings. Read on to discover 11 scandals that had the architecture community—and the world—talking.

11. The Poulson Affair

British architect John Poulson caused an uproar in 1972 when it was revealed that he had been bribing public figures. He was arrested in 1973 on corruption charges, and his 52-day long trial cost £1.25 million. He was sentenced to five years in prison and later pled guilty to nine additional charges of corruption and conspiracy, which added two more years to his sentence. Two others were jailed and Home Secretary Reginald Maudling was forced to resign. Over 300 people were implicated in the affair.

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10. Eiffel Panama Scandal

Around the time Gustave Eiffel was building his iconic tower in Paris, he was also embroiled in a scandal across the Atlantic. Eiffel had been hired in 1887 to design the locks for the Panama Canal, but by 1889, the Panama Canal Company had gone bankrupt after mismanagement by its leader, Ferdinand de Lesseps. Eiffel and members of the company’s management were charged with raising money under false pretenses and misuse of funds. He was found guilty of the latter charge in 1893 and sentenced to two years in prison, but was acquitted on appeal.

9. Louis Kahn’s Families Architect

Louis Kahn produced many iconic projects during his lifetime including the Yale University Art Gallery, the Salk Institute, and the Kimbell Art Museum. In 2003, his son Nathaniel Kahn released the documentary My Architect, which explored the personal life of Kahn, including the fact that he had three families. Kahn married his wife, Ester, in 1930 and they had a daughter, Sue Ann. He also had a daughter, Alexandra, with architect Anne Tyng, and son Nathaniel with landscape designer Harriet Pattison. The families knew about one another and lived a few miles apart, although the children did not meet until Kahn’s funeral.

8. Murder at Taliesin

Frank Lloyd Wright’s personal life was almost as famous as his buildings. In 1909, Wright left his wife and children and ran off with Martha “Mamah” Cheney, a client’s wife. In 1911, they settled at Taliesin, a retreat he was building in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Several years later, Wright took a trip to Chicago, leaving Cheney and her visiting children behind. While he was gone, a houseman set fire to the building and then murdered them with an axe as they tried to flee. Wright later rebuilt Taliesin and lived there with his third wife.

7. John Hancock Tower

Boston’s John Hancock Tower was plagued by controversy from the very beginning. Designed by Henry Cobb of the firm Pei Cobb Freed, the 60-story building faced initial opposition over concerns that it would cast a shadow on the historic Trinity Church. (The church later sued John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance for damage caused during construction of the tower.) But the real trouble started once the building was under construction. Glass window panes, each weighing 500 pounds, began to fall during high winds. The missing windows were temporarily replaced with plywood, earning the building the nickname “Plywood Palace.” All 10,344 windows were replaced. A tuned mass damper had to be installed when it was discovered that the building was swaying too much—causing motion sickness in the upper floors’ occupants. Perhaps most the most shocking issue of all was Swiss engineer Bruno Thurlimann’s conclusion that under certain, rare wind conditions, the building could fall over. Five million dollars worth of steel braces were installed to ensure its structural integrity.

6. Richard Meier

In the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the architecture industry was forced to reckon with its own history of gender inequality and sexual harassment in the workplace. In March of 2018, Richard Meier was accused of sexual harassment by five women, including four who worked for his firm. Meier took a leave of absence and later stepped down from his eponymous firm.

5. Japanese Building Scandal

In 2006, a scandal erupted in Japan when it was discovered that the earthquake-resistance data had been fabricated during the construction of dozens of hotels and residential buildings. Architect Hidetsugu Aneha was found by the court to have falsified data since 1996. He was sentenced to six years in prison and fined 1.8 million yen. Several buildings have been torn down as a result of the scandal and the country’s Architect Certification Law was revised.

4. Operation Vandelay Industries

Paul J. Newman had a successful and award-winning career in architecture in Troy, New York. But there was one problem: He wasn’t a licensed architect. In 2017, then State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman indicted Newman on 58 counts, following a two-year investigation nicknamed Operation Vandelay Industries, a nod to George Costanza’s fake latex company on Seinfeld. Newman pled guilty to six counts and was sentenced to two and a half to seven years in prison.

3. Henri Patrick Devillers

French architect Henri Patrick Devillers became involved with an international scandal in 2012, when he was detained in Cambodia at the request of China for his ties to Chinese politician Bo Xilai and his wife, Gu Kailai. Devillers and British businessman Neil Heywood both served as fixers for Bo, and Heywood was found dead in a hotel room in China in 2011. Gu was charged with the murder and Devillers was a cooperating witness at the trial. Gu was found guilty and is serving a life sentence. The affair returned to the spotlight in 2016, when a real-estate transaction involving Gu, Heywood, and Devillers came to light during the leak of the Panama Papers.

2. The Cloud

There are plenty of designs that cause debate, but every so often, there’s a design that causes an uproar. Back in 2011, Dutch architecture firm MVRDV unveiled the design for a pair of residential buildings called the Cloud in South Korea. The square towers were connected by a “pixelated cloud,” making the entire structure resemble the Twin Towers during the attacks of September 11. The firm apologized and the the complex still has not been built.

1. The Crime of the Century

Six years into the 1900s there was already a murder so sensational it was dubbed “the Crime of the Century.” On June 25, 1906, architect Stanford White was murdered at the rooftop theater of Madison Square Garden by Harry K. Thaw, the husband of Evelyn Nesbit, model, actress, and chorus girl. White had sexually assaulted Nesbit when she was 15 or 16 and Thaw, a violent and mentally unstable man, had a longstanding grudge against him. The subsequent trial captivated the nation, and Thaw was eventually found not guilty on the grounds of insanity.


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