Longing for more in-person connection, many homeowners are turning to conversation pits as a renewed symbol of intimacy in interior design. Whatever happens next, stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches and events, recommended reading and more.
Responding to shifting preferences for remote work, residential real estate developers are incorporating elevated work-from-home amenities into new luxury rental buildings across the country. New features include private offices, conference rooms, task lighting, wall-mounted monitors, podcasting booths and high-speed internet, for which the cost is either included in the rent or available for an additional fee. As The New York Times reports, the move is part of a trend accelerated by the pandemic, in which developers began adding space for desks and work equipment in new builds. Demand for such features may only continue to grow: According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center earlier this year, 59 percent of employees are still working remotely, and 78 percent of that group wants to continue to do so after the pandemic—up from 64 percent two years ago.
According to the National Association of Realtors, the median sales price of an existing American home hit $416,000 in June—the highest since records began in 1999, The Wall Street Journal reports. Recent market conditions have led to a slowdown in activity, with almost 15 percent of pending home-purchase agreements falling through, at a rate not seen since April 2020’s pandemic disruption. Though demand remains buoyed for now, with properties remaining on the market for an average of 14 days last month (the shortest time period since 2011), buying could fall in the months ahead if mortgage applications continue dropping as they have for the last three straight weeks. Currently, applications are at their lowest level in 22 years, due in part to the Federal Reserve’s interest rate increases aimed at tamping down inflation.
Operations have resumed at the Port of Oakland after a week of protests left cargo stranded at ships, docks and warehouses, straining the supply chain and prompting some ships to reroute to different ports, Reuters reports. The demonstrations began last week in response to California’s new “gig worker” law, which would require many businesses that rely on freelance workers to reclassify those independent contractors as employees—a distinction that protesting truck company owners said would force them to shoulder heavy added costs. Port executives and police have now restricted demonstrators to designated “free speech zones,” allowing cargo shipments to restart at California’s third-busiest port and most-used agricultural export hub.
Construction startup Vantem has announced plans to build 15 factories across the U.S. by 2029 to manufacture prefabricated modular housing units, Archinect reports. The expansion will be fueled by capital from the company’s recent Series A funding round, led by Bill Gates–founded firm Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and will allow Vantem to expand production of its proprietary design—a low-cost, net-zero building product that does not require steel or wood reinforcements. Joining startups like Vancouver-based Nexii Building Solutions and Bjarke Ingels’s Nabr in the race to disrupt the construction industry, Vantem expects each of the new facilities to produce 1 million square feet of homes annually.
Launches & Collaborations
The Healthy Materials Lab at the Parsons School of Design has debuted the third season of its podcast Trace Material. The new iteration will explore the “mysteries of mycelium” as mycologist John Michelotti journeys into the Catskill mountains to investigate the properties of mushrooms and their potential to …….