The Wall Street Journal checks in with Bruce Ratner's always-controversial Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn (I'm actually writing this about four blocks from the site). The big news now is that renderings of the $4.9 billion development's 14 apartment towers (6,400 new units total, many of them affordable) to be built from prefabricated steel-framed modules have been released by ShoP Architects. An exciting, audacious idea but will a prefab apartment tower actually grow in Brooklyn? Always the realist,TreeHugger's Lloyd Alter says "Fuggedaboutit."


Grist admires the bravura of Paul Brazelton, a Minnesota resident who plants to brave it out this winter with nothing but two small space heaters to heat his furnace-less 2,000-square-foot home. And oh yeah,I suppose I should mention that Brazelton's home just underwent an extensive (and expensive) retrofit to meet passive house requirements. 


Curbed takes notice of the mostly right wing pundit-generated uproar over the size of populist rabble-rouser extraordinaire Michael Moore's modest lakefront home (okay, it's a huge-as* mansion at over 10,000-square-feet) on Michigan's lower peninsula. 


The Los Angeles Times marvels at a compact (495-square-feet) home in L.A.'s hip Echo Park nabe that feels a whole lot bigger thanks to thoughtful design details, high ceilings, and plenty of natural light. Says designer Louis Molina of Good Idea Studio: "The drive was not how to make the most affordable house. The drive was to make the biggest experience in a small amount of space — enriched living, not impoverished living.”


The New York Times fields a great question: "Can green upgrades increase the value of my home? If so, what are the most cost-effective options?" According to Jeffrey Schleider of New York's Miron Properities, eco-features can indeed impact a home's resale value but the more the merrier. Homes with a noticeable (i.e. well-marketed) cluster of green features — under-counter water filters, light motion-sensor switches, low or zero-VOC paints, etc. — "really makes your property more appealing" in a tough real estate market. 
Builder charts the rise of the "big-box" home, a dressed-down cousin of the McMansion. Writes Teresa Burney: "Even as average new-home sizes have fallen slightly across the country, builders in some markets are finding a profitable and underserved niche of buyers who need or want a house as big as a mansion with the price tag of a cottage. While some buyers are in true need of the space, others, awed by the per-square-foot value of so much elbow room that cheap land and efficient box-like floor plans make possible, can’t resist the buy."
Earth911 tags along with Dave Franzoa and Fernando Gonzalez, two Recology recycling pick-up drivers working San Francisco's Telegraph Hill and North Beach neighborhoods.
Image: Forest City Ratner/ShoP Architects 

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Playing catch up: Big and tall
From Michael Moore's plus-sized Michigan manse to Bruce Ratner's proposed prefab apartment towers in Brooklyn, green homes of considerable girth and height domi