Friday, November 15, 2013

The Tallest Building? / Always Thanksgiving

The Tallest Building? 

On November 12, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat announced that the new One World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan has officially been ruled taller than the Willis Tower in Chicago. Because I thought you might be intrigued, I offer the following excerpt from the New York Times’ article that day titled, “By a Spire, Manhattan Regains a Title From Chicago.”

 “New York’s tallest building was deemed taller even though it has six fewer floors and its roof is more than 100 feet lower than the top side of the Willis Tower. (Formerly known as the Sears Tower, the Chicago building captured the title in the 1970s from the twin towers.)
How can that be?

It all depends on what the definition of an antenna is.

Both buildings have long masts poking skyward from their roofs. But those on the 1,451-foot Willis Tower are considered antennas, which the council does not count in calculating the height of a building.

The 408-foot long mast on 1 World Trade Center, on the other hand, is more than just a means of improving radio signals, its developers argued. They called it a spire and insisted it was a critical and permanent element of the architects’ overall design.

When 25 members of the council’s height committee met in Chicago on Friday, they heard the spire argument from the chief architect, David Childs of the firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and representatives of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which developed the trade center.

The New York contingent said the spire had always been part of the plan to achieve the symbolic height of 1,776 feet.

The committee members unanimously agreed that the spire should be counted.”


In the Chicago Tribune, Mayor Rahm Emanuel responded to the announcement.  "I just saw the decision. And I would just say to all the experts gathered in one room, if it looks like an antenna, acts like an antenna, then guess what? It is an antenna.” 

One might think that measuring the height of a building is a simple matter…especially with the technology available today.  Not so.  I visited the website of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat and read their ‘Criteria for the Defining and Measuring of Tall Buildings.’  Definitely complicated (Check it out for yourself -  And when there is room left for deliberation and debate, the human component brings subjectivity.  

Is it also possible that the decision makers had some sub-conscious sentimental reasons for the final decision?? We’ll never know….

Always Thanksgiving

A good friend and I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving together but will not be in the same city for the holiday.  We decided to celebrate our own Thanksgiving this past week.   

Never having cooked a turkey and trimmings before, it was a fun adventure – planning the meal, buying the food, choosing which recipes to use for the turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole (with marshmallow topping, of course!) and making do with my limited kitchen paraphernalia.  Somehow we managed.  The meal was table-ready a little later than we had planned and the white meat may have been just a little bit dry  - but it was delicious.

Sitting down to the meal and toasting our accomplishment I closed my eyes for just a moment and realized how lucky I was – to have my health, to have a wonderful family and to be working at a business I love.  And I knew what it felt like to give ‘thanks’ and to share a special moment with a true friend.

I hope you are able to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends you want to be with and that you are able to appreciate all you have, as well as all you have to give. 

As we all know, the feelings of thanks and giving are not limited to just one day.  Think about what you can do for someone else by giving just a little bit of your time…it may make all the difference in the world to the other person...and, I guarantee, to you too.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Glenn Rufrano returning to O’Connor Capital Partners as Chairman and CEO

On The Road…

Nov. 20 - 21:  Johns Hopkins University to conduct a workshop for students in the Edward St. John Real Estate Program, Washington, DC

Dec. 4:  Tishman Speyer and RCPI Landmark Properties, 81st Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting, New York, NY

Jan. 22 - 24, 2014:  IMN (Information Management Network) Winter Forum on Opportunity and Private Fund Investing, Laguna Beach, CA

Mar. 11 - 14: MIPIM, Cannes, France

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Two ways to circle the world / Holidays in the Big Apple / Hot Food and Beverage Trends

Two ways to circle the world

When coaching people on how to ‘work a room’ I offer two methods:  circulate the room or let the room circulate around you.  Spinning this concept a bit - this week, rather than being ‘on the road’ I was in New York, but had numerous meetings with people from other parts of the world. 

One young professional, born and raised in the US and employed by a global real estate development company, had just returned from one of many periodic trips to China when we saw each other.  He is raising money from individual investors - the Chinese love investing in the US and especially New York City!

Another meeting was over lunch with a good friend in from San Francisco.  His capital raising efforts are strictly domestic, although he works for a global real estate investment management firm.  We talked about the not un-common challenge of getting people to reply to an email or return a phone call and the ‘elation’ when they simply do!  

Brainstorming on ideas to improve results were relegated to our next encounter which we agreed would be over cocktails and dinner and which would certainly produce the answer!

Visiting from Hong Kong was a former colleague who started her own real estate investment advisory firm about two years ago.  Her niche is partnering European and Asian capital with US real estate developers.  Business is good. She and I both favor the exciting and fulfilling ‘uncertainty’ of entrepreneurship over being an employee in a large corporation.

Imagining Manhattan as the ‘room you’re working’ is a daunting thought.  But given the magnetic character of the real estate capital of the world, if you make yourself available to your global colleagues, in time the ‘room’ will circle around you!

Holidays in the Big Apple

It’s special in New York as we head into Thanksgiving and the gift-giving season. The brisk early winter air is invigorating.  The ice on the Rockefeller Center rink has been in place since October 12 and more and more holiday lights are being plugged in every day alerting the consumer that it’s time to get busy! 

The city is a wonderful place to bring children of all ages, to simply walk around, shop or perhaps take a spin on the ice at Rock Center or Bryant Park. Hey, if you are going to be in New York over the holidays and have some extra time, please reach out to me.  I’d love to meet you and toast to a healthy, happy and prosperous 2014! 

Hot Food & Beverage Trends

Some years ago my former boss hired a restaurant consultant named Michael Whiteman.  We were planning  to build our second enclosed regional mall in the Baton Rouge, LA market and wanted to differentiate it from the first. 

Whiteman’s idea was to create a unique food court of local and regional restaurants. He suggested a Louisiana road trip to experience the indigenous cuisine. I was lucky enough to be asked to accompany Michael on this adventure.  That trip is indelibly etched in my mind and on my palate!

Over the course of four days we worked (and ate) our way through Bayou country, stopping to sample truly incredible Creole and other cooking.  It was a delightful experience as Michael really knew his way around, bringing us to some tiny gems of restaurants that only a local might know.

Baum+Whiteman, a consulting business formed by Michael and the late restaurant industry legend Joe Baum, are considered to be on the leading edge of the food and beverage world.  The firm just released their annual “12 Hottest Food & Beverage Trends for Restaurant and Hotel Dining for 2014 + 30 Buzzwords.” Take a look at it here:  ( 

After devouring it, you will be the one making the cool gastronomic suggestions to friends and colleagues.  Bon appetite!

On The Road...

Nov. 20 - 21:  Johns Hopkins University to conduct a workshop for students in the Edward St. John Real Estate Program, Washington, DC

Jan. 22 - 24, 2014:  IMN (Information Management Network) Winter Forum on Opportunity and Private Fund Investing, Laguna Beach, CA

Mar. 11 - 14: MIPIM, Cannes, France (planned)

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