Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Peter DeMaria, architect extraordinaire, to Miami's Public Housing Rescue?

Architect Peter DeMaria, the man responsible for turning used shipping containers into homes, is coming to Florida. Because a posting by this blog suggesting Mr. DeMaria would be the perfect solution to solving Miami's public housing shortage was discovered on the net (see 8/2 comments section for that topic), we were encouraged to contact him directly-- which is part of the blog's mission statement of affecting change (see request for President Jimmy Carter to head the county's corrupt and incompetent public housing department). Following is the email exchange:

From Peter DeMaria:
Thanks for your advocating and comments. It sounds like you may have struck a chord down there in Miami. The University of Miami School of Architecture is a headquarters of sort to "New Urbanism". It's so close to you that it could be worth a visit. Our office has been researching a few potential office locations in Florida but we haven't selected our final location just yet. Your ideas about the "workforce housing" could not have been more accurate. This condition is not only in Miami but here in LA as well. My research has shown that just about every metropolitan area is experiencing some level of this lack of housing at an affordable price point. While our custom home project in Redondo was not "affordable housing" per se, it is being constructed at far less than average and affordable cost per square foot. The response to it has been overwhelming and from all parts of the US and as far away as Italy. We think that it will open some doors and minds to a new technology that can translate into affordable building construction.

Your platform for dialogue regarding affordable housing that won't blow away in the next hurricane is a real service to many people in the Southeastern U.S. - great job, keep it alive! I'll keep you posted on what
we've got going on and please stay in touch. Once again thanks for your support.

All the best,


Peter DeMaria AIA
DeMaria Design Assoc.
941 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
T: 310 802-1270
F: 310 802-1260

8/8 reply:
Dear Peter,

Thanks for the email. Regarding "workforce housing" in Miami, it is so bad here that the school board (4th largest in US) is considering selling property to build up a reserve of cash to help teachers put down payments on their homes. It is so bad here that the school board can't hire new teachers because they can't find affordable housing in the county. With record numbers of teachers retiring, a crisis in education is predicted because new teachers can't find a place to live. It's architects like you who think outside the "box" that could be the answer to a whole lot of social problems. If you move to Florida, I would suggest putting your office in Miami. Aside from getting more than enough work on the affordable housing side, you can also service clientele with enough money to buy upscale IBUs and other more traditional designs (or non-traditional), money-empowered jet setters who buy condos and homes in Miami so that they have a place to crash when traveling or investment. Plus, there are more than enough developers here who could be your Medicis. Put your office where all the political power is and that is in downtown Miami which is undergoing a building boom of high rise chi-chi condos and office towers that rivals Beijing thanks in part to the soon to open nearly half-billion dollar Carnival Center for the Performing Arts (Cesar Pelli). I went to UM and yes, it has a great school of architecture, but it is off the beaten trail and highly academic (besides, they have been non-existent in this housing solution-- no statements have been issued, no comments solicited from the media). Again, thanks for the kind words, and best of luck in your endeavors.

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