HIVE: Housing Innovation Vision and Economics
  • In Henrietta, N.Y., near Rochester, a $17.6 million, 61-unit affordable housing development for the deaf features state-of-the-art communication equipment and high-contrast visual design. The capital stack includes low income tax credit equity, a New York State Housing Trust Fund award, a permanent from the Community Preservation Corp., and an award from Urban Initiative Funding.
  • In Cape Town, South Africa, Berman-Kalil Housing Concepts can build a bare-minimum, shipping container-based, two-bedroom RDP house that cost the South African government around R110,000 (US$8,700). It comes with a bathroom, open plan kitchen, tiled floor, ceiling, electricity, water and sanitation.
  • In Walpole, N.H., Unity Homes can factory-assemble LEED Platinum homes that can be shipped to their site for less than $150 per square foot, that will last 200 years.
  • In Snow Mass, Colo., the brand spanking new headquarters of the Rocky Mountain Institute will likely use 17.2 kBtu/ft2, the lowest energy use in one of the coldest climate zones in the country. If all buildings in the U.S. were this efficient, we would save as much energy in one month as it takes to power all of New York City in a year.
Berman-Kalil Housing Concepts, South Africa, shipping container homes.

Now, let's face it, these feats of awe and wonderment--ranging from capital collaboration and creativity on behalf of the hearing impaired, to design and functionality that meets both emergent and enduring shelter needs, to laws-of-physics-defying high performance built space--are happening at the edges of the mass of community development.

Which is precisely why we should be paying more attention to them than ever.

Today, five years into a housing and economic recovery that has had to battle, tooth-and-nail for every increment of progress back from its most desperate era, adversity, challenge, and a limbo of uncertainty prevail.

  • The recovery has, at best, been selective, and can be seen cynically to have been elitist in its scope.
  • Entry-level buyer barriers, ranging from labor shortages, to lending impediments, to consumer psychology, to household wage stagnancy, to local NIMBY-ism, remain as a wet-blanket force suppressing a full and healthy housing rebound.
  • Construction and development is underperforming (and getting worse) in economic productivity terms, and little to no progress is in sight
  • Innovation, occurring at light-speed among manufacturers and materials suppliers, encounters a bastion of legacy resistance in the form of hard-wired inertia, cross-signals, and conflicting interests, each of which is a powerful inhibitor to transformation

We fear change. When, in fact, it's not changing we should fear.

Here, this past week, Harvard Business Review commentator Scott Anthony reminds us of four reasons disruptive innovation should be a "key component" of any good strategist's tool kit:

First, disruption directs you to look in places you might otherwise ignore. Christensen’s research shows that disruption often starts at a market’s edges. Sometimes that is in relatively undemanding market tiers, such as how mini mill manufacturers started in the rebar market. Disruption also takes root with customers that historically were locked out of a market because they lacked specialized skills or sufficient financial resources to consume existing solutions. Sometimes the place to look is in physical locations where consumption was historically difficult if not impossible. Finally, fringe markets like hackers or students can put up with the limitations that often characterize early versions of disruptive ideas.

So, those amazing feats of wonder noted above, all happening at the fringes, the outlying districts, the edges of housing's core realm? They're where we're going to take the conversation with a new event, called HIVE. Here's the essence of it:

Incubator of Forward-Looking Ideas and Innovations That Will Change the Way Builders, Architects, Policy Makers, and Land Developers Think and Work.

Washington, DC – November 23, 2015 – Hanley Wood, the premier information, media, event, and strategic marketing services company serving the residential, commercial design and construction industries announces the launch of a transformational forum—Housing Innovation, Vision & Economics (HIVE).

An unparalleled line-up of CEOs, innovators, thought-leaders, game-changers, policy makers, and sources of consumer intelligence will come together for a two day program around the theme Disrupt or Be Disrupted. The event will take place on September 28 – 29, 2016 at LA Live (JW Marriott) in Los Angeles, CA.

HIVE’s first of its kind series of digital, print, research, in-person, and custom initiatives will spark innovation, vision, cultural growth, inspiration, and strategy to solve for the timeless societal need to imagine, develop, design, and build a better world. Its mission is to shape the future of homes and communities by challenging and creating opportunities around five distinct pillars: Design, Demographics, Talent, Economics, and Product Innovation.

“We are excited to ignite a national discussion on housing,” said Peter Goldstone, CEO of Hanley Wood. “Bringing together the best and brightest construction and design professionals, academics, and thought leaders from an array of industries passionate about design, business strategies, and innovation will stimulate new ideas and shape the future of how people live, work and play.”

HIVE puts its attendees at the vanguard of transformative innovations in housing—single-family, multi-family, and affordable, urban and suburban. It also provides exciting new opportunities for marketers that want to align their products and services with the most influential thinkers from across the country.

More will be revealed. Much more.

The point is, disrupt or be disrupted. Improving housing and making life better for people in communities now has a new conversation. It's HIVE. Stay tuned.