TreeHugger asks the important questions in a look at the Passivhaus renovation of a down-and-out modernist home in Westport, CT., once owned by the late piano-tickling showman Oscar Levant. Ponder Lloyd Alter: "As noted earlier, this renovation is not without its issues, ones that have to be faced by historic preservationists everywhere, about where we draw the line. Has this house been saved or changed beyond recognition? In this case, a careful renovation has preserved a house that otherwise might have been demolished as a drafty barn, by a designer who did his best to preserve as much of the character of the building as he could. Do we really need to achieve Passivhaus levels of energy efficiency or would more modest goals be more appropriate for historic buildings?" The super-efficient transformation of the home, built in 1936 by Frank Lloyd Wright protege Barry Bryne, was overseen by owner/developer Doug McDonald of MudaGreen along with Passive House consultants Gregory Duncan and Ken Levenson.
Core77 reports from the floor of the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago. Among the finds: Magnification mirrors with LED light rings and USB ports; NASA-inspired home gardening systems; and Yves Behar-designed SodaStream machines galore.
Co.Exist introduces us to the "New 1%: The tiny sliver of energy-hogging American homeowners who are consuming 4 percent of total residential energy. According to a study conducted by Opower: "The top 1 percent of electricity-using households spend about $4,000 on electricity annually, compared to the $1,000 the average house spends."
Gizmodo wrangles up "13 Adorably Teeny Tiny Houses."
ArchDaily observes International Women's Day with a roundup of the "10 Most Overlooked Women in Architecture History." On this list? Anne Tyng, Charlotte Perriand, Eileen Gray, and Frank Lloyd Wright's very first employee: Marion Mahony Griffin.
The New York Times eyes Bubble, a chandelier from Brooklyn-based design firm Souda that's made from upcycled plastic bottles. Ten percent of proceeds from the sale of Bubble go to New York City's fantastic "canning" nonprofit, Sure We Can. The organization also supplied the source materials for this rather lovely lighting fixture.
Curbed Miami breaks news that "Real Housewives of Miami" cast member/model/harpy Lisa Hochstein and her "plastic surgeon husband/giver of boobs," Dr. Leonard Hochstein, have been given the go-ahead to raze a historic yet falling-apart 1925 manse that they purchased in a foreclose proceeding for $7.6 million last year. Designed by iconic architect Walter DeGarmo, the Star Island property has been at the center of a massive preservation battle brewing in Miami Beach. The Hochstein's plan to replace the outdated structure with a 20,000-square-foot dream home.
Remodelista checks out an ant colony-inspired modern abode in Omaezaki, Japan. Explains Sarah Lonsdale: "Designed for a couple and their three children, the home was built like an ant colony with a continuous flow created between the interconnecting spaces. Unlike Western architecture where we shut ourselves away in our separate rooms, this home is designed to encourage communication among family members."
AOL Real Estate spreads the word that Zsa Zsa Gabor's Bel Air fabulous, foreclose-ridden fixer-upper of a home has apparently finally snagged a buyer after sitting on (and off) the market for eternity. Lawn toilets and adult adoptions papers were not part of the sale. Did the fact that the home made a cameo appearance in "Argo" have something to do with this small miracle? Congratulations, dahling.