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Starchitects Struggling?

Vivan S. Toy examines the fate of several condo developments in New York that employed brand name architects to sell their products during the housing boom, and finds mixed results.
March 12, 2012, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Featuring the handiwork of celebrity designers such as Richard Meier, Enrique Norten, Robert A. M. Stern, Philip Johnson, Philippe Starck and Giorgio Armani, condo developers across New York enlisted famous designers' names and products as marketing tools to lure buyers during the hyper-competitive housing boom. Toy investigates how several of these buildings have fared, "[n]ow that the dust has settled and these buildings have had a few years to age and see some turnover."

While the starchitect craze was a boon to the popularity of the profession in general, and to those globe-trotting designers riding the wave, investors and developers have seen mixed results. Toy has found that, "[s]ome buildings with celebrity architects or designers have maintained or exceeded their boom-time prices, and they undoubtedly owe their success at least partly to that star power. Where prices have not held up, though, a celebrated designer was not enough to overcome other market forces, including price levels still about 10 percent below the highs of 2008. Many buildings with lackluster track records are in less-than-ideal locations or in areas that perhaps weren't quite ready for high design and its corresponding price tag."

As buyers had become more discerning in recent years, it's not clear if developers, or buyers, still see value in a famous name.

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Published on Thursday, March 8, 2012 in The New York Times
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