Daily digest: Who’s buying Katerra’s assets, the eviction moratorium gets a last minute extension, and more

A Sigh Of Relief

Daily digest: Who’s buying Katerra’s assets, the eviction moratorium gets a last minute extension, and more

The U.S. Capitol Building (Harold Mendoza/Unsplash)

Greetings and welcome back to another roundup of the day’s goings-on. If you haven’t already signed up, tomorrow marks the start of Facades+ New York, a hybrid event with both in-person panels and demonstrations and an online component.

Here’s what you need to know today:

Volumetric Building Companies is buying up Katerra’s assets

After prefab modular construction startup Katerra filed for bankruptcy protection and abruptly shuttered in June, the question remained of what would happen to its assets. The architecture studios previously purchased by the company became, or made headway on becoming, independent again, and today Volumetric Building Companies (VBC), a Philadelphia-based modular construction company, announced it had secured permission to purchase Katerra’s automated factory in Tracy, California. With the approval of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, VBC acquired the 577,000-square-foot Tracy factory (and accompanying offices), and will use it to produce building components, but also a company foothold on the West Coast. VBC is encouraging former Katerra employees in Tracy to reapply with them.

The nationwide eviction moratorium is extended after all

After the CDC’s moratorium on evictions, first enacted last September to stem a predicted surge in homelessness during the throes of the pandemic, ended earlier this week, it looked like millions of Americans were potentially at risk of losing their homes. Neither the Biden administration nor Congress had, on Monday, moved to extend the effort, but yesterday the CDC issued a new, temporary moratorium on evictions in U.S. counties suffering from high rates of COVID-19 infections—at the time of writing, that covers 90 percent of all Americans. The new measure will run through October 3, buying two months for tenants at risk of losing their homes.

However, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court previously ruled that President Biden lacked the authority to extend the original moratorium past July 31 through an executive order. That paves the way for a potential legal battle in the future, and it’s uncertain if the current moratorium will stand.

H/t to CBS News

U.S. construction association launches raft of climate-friendly measures

On Tuesday, in an acknowledgment of the global existential threat of climate change, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) announced an initiative to encourage the construction of less carbon-intensive projects, among other environmentally friendly steps. AGC said it would work with members to push manufacturers to produce more fuel-efficient equipment, offer guidance on reducing equipment idling, and share information about innovations like solar-powered job sites trailers and lighting. It also pointed out that construction is responsible for only two percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., vs. one-third of emissions from the built environment itself. In light of this, the bulk of AGC’s climate initiatives focus on pushing clients to build more responsibly by, for example, calling for a national strategy to invest in resilient infrastructure, modernize public buildings, and expedite permitting for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among other actions. When asked whether AGC would prod members to work with architects and building designers to improve environmental performance, a spokesperson pointed out the association’s ongoing joint committee with the AIA. Stephen Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer, also said that “Architects get credit for being out in front of this for years.”

An unsightly fence has hedged out an iconic sculptural landscape in the Hudson Valley

A monumental piece of land art by sculptor Harvey Fite has become the center of a contentious battle in Hudson Valley, New York. Over 37 years, Fite built a sprawling maze of stone by hand, and the 6.5-acre Opus 40 remains on view for visitors to tour. However, a rift between the nonprofit that manages Opus 40 and the current owners of Fife’s former home just next door has lead to a 400-foot-long chain link fence being installed between the two properties, spoiling views from both sides. The nonprofit claims that visitors to the home, which is regularly rented on Airbnb, have been throwing loud parties and camping nearby, posing a threat to Opus 40.

H/t to the New York Times

London’s Marble Arch Mound reopens with free admission after debacle

MVRDV’s Marble Arch Mound opened to less-than-stellar reviews in London, as disappointed visitors climbed the artificial hill, complained, and were given their money back by the Westminster City Council. After closing the attraction on July 30, the council has since apologized and reopened the sedum-and-soil covered scaffolding mound to the public, but for free. The council will hold off on until September, when more of the attraction’s plants have grown in.

H/t to Dezeen

More and more employees begin rallying against going back to the office

Employers (and the real estate industry) are pushing harder and harder for workers to go back to their physical offices by Labor Day, but employees are reportedly pushing back against the mandates just as hard. Google has canceled plans to force workers back into the office in the fall, Facebook is offering employees the opportunity to permanently work remotely, and a whopping 40 percent of people surveyed responded that they would rather quit than go back to the way things were before.

H/t to The Real Deal