Published in November 2010, the Real Estate Section of The New City Reader asked the how much is real about “real estate” today? And what is real estate’s basis in reality? The New City Reader was a newspaper on architecture, public space and the city, published as part of The Last Newspaper, an exhibition that ran at the New Museum of Contemporary Art from October 6, 2010–January 9, 2011. Conceived by executive editors Joseph Grima and Kazys Varnelis, the newspaper’s content centered on the spatial implications of epochal shifts in technology, economy and society today. The New City Reader consisted of one edition published over the course of the project, with a new section produced weekly from within the museum’s gallery space, each led by a different guest editorial team of architects, theorists and research groups. These sections were available free at the New Museum and—in emulation of a practice common in the nineteenth century American city and still popular in China and other parts of the world today—was posted in public on walls throughout the city for collective reading.
Peter Tolkin, Peter Tolkin Architects
New City Reader
How much is real about “real estate” today? And what is real estate’s basis in reality? There are of course the binding legal instruments, the deeds and contracts that abstract land into “real property,” subdividing it into tracts and rendering it quantifiable for transaction. Once land becomes designated as real estate, it can be registered in MLS databases and the columns of Excel spreadsheets, crunched by brokers before appearing in advertisements perused by prospective buy ers. One of Manhattan’s recent highend listings, for example, was encoded into this brisk shorthand: $55m 5 BD/7BA 5500sqft NyC CPW Condo. If one were to text this offering to a friend via the New york Times’ nifty new Real Estate app,it might prompt a similarly encrypted response: 4sale @ $10g/sf OMFG!
With Craigslist, other internet classifieds and sites like Curbed thriving, daily and weekly real estate sections are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Online property listings, like news reportage, have exponentially expanded into an everyday, allthetime posting cycle. This time compression, as Beatriz Colomina posited in the November 5, 2010, Leisure section of the New City Reader, liberates daily newspapers to focus upon lifestyle—and in particular the consumer frenzy of home buying. Current real estate reporting delves into an array of alluring lifestyle choices featuring both local denizens and home dwellers around the world. Even the marketing of urban apartments and condominiums hype ame nities that trump the drab linoleumtiled common room of old; prospective residents are lured by lifestyle perks from luxury gyms and wine tastings to private concerts and landscaped terraces outfitted with propane grills, conversation pits and skyline views. Since twentyfirst century workers never seem to punch out of their 24/7 time clocks, we wonder how many folks actually have time to partake in such mirth and merriment?