Daily digest: Zillow quits home flipping after heavy losses, introducing the #BlackDesignVisionaries grantees, and more

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Daily digest: Zillow quits home flipping after heavy losses, introducing the #BlackDesignVisionaries grantees, and more

(Courtesy Instagram)

Good morning and welcome back to another roundup of what’s going on today. Let’s dive in.

Here’s what you need to know:

Zillow leaves the homebuying business and lays off 25 percent of staff after massive losses

Zillow made headlines earlier this year when it was revealed the homebuying platform was buying up thousands of houses across the United States to flip for a profit, but now it seems the company’s experiment has ended in failure. Betting on aggressively tuned algorithms to pick out which houses they should purchase, repair, and then flip, the Zillow Offers program was battered by a downturn in the housing market. Now Zillow is reporting $569 million in losses after being forced to sell the 7,000 properties it had acquired and will lay off 25 percent of its staff. The Zillow Offers program, predictably, is also being shuttered.

H/t to Bloomberg

Meet Instagram’s #BlackDesignVisionaries grant recipients

Five months after Instagram’s official design account, @design, and the Brooklyn Museum teamed up to launch the inaugural #BlackDesignVisionaries grant program, the winners are in. Instagram and the Brooklyn Museum have also upped the amount of money handed out to $205,000 from the originally promised $130,000.

  • Fashion house Head of State, founded by artist and designer Taofeek Abijako in 2016 when he was only 17, will receive the $100,000 Visionary Small Business Grant;
  • Graphic design studio Morcos Key, a collaboration between Jon Key and Wael Morcos that uses design to contextualize complex historical narratives, will receive the $75,000 Impact Grant;
  • Dominique Petit-Frère, founder of Limbo Accra, which is realizing architecture and art projects across Accra, Ghana, and other cities in West Africa, will take home a $10,000 Aspiring Designer Grant;
  • Tré Seals, founder of Vocal Type, a typeface designer working to diversify the industry, will receive another $10,000 Aspiring Designer Grant;
  • The final $10,000 Aspiring Designer Grant will go to Sablā Stays, a designer and art director at the Solange Knowles-owned Saint Heron creative agency.

All of the winners will also receive mentorship selected by the grant committee and the program’s team of partners. Learn more about the initiative here.

Waymo will bring its self-driving cars to New York streets next

The Alphabet-owned Waymo is bringing its autonomous vehicles to its most challenging market yet; the Big Apple. Angry drivers, extreme weather, confusing road layouts, and bountiful pedestrians are apparently the perfect do-or-die testing ground for self-driving cars. Thankfully, Waymo is only deploying five cars equipped with sensors to map the streets in preparation for later deployment; all will be deployed in Manhattan south of Central Park, The company currently doesn’t meet New York State’s requirements for a testing permit but is actively working with lawmakers to make it happen—and New York City’s incoming mayor, Eric Adams, has reportedly spoken favorably about the idea.

H/t to The Verge

Self-avowed transit enthusiast Michelle Wu is Boston’s next mayor

Speaking of election results from last night, Michelle Wu was elected Mayor of Boston, becoming simultaneously the first woman, first person of color, and first person of Asian descent to win the position. Wu is also an outspoken advocate for beefing up public transportation as well as the Green New Deal; she explicitly pledged to make Boston a “Green New Deal city” in her victory speech. Aside from buffing up Boston’s climate change resiliency, Wu ran on a number of transit proposals—including eliminating MBTA fare.

H/t to Streetsblog Mass

In Amsterdam, 20 percent of all new houses must be built from timber (after 2025)

In Amsterdam, homebuilders will soon need to start looking into sourcing wood. With the passage of the Green Deal Timber Construction agreement in October, 20 percent of all new homes in the Dutch capital city will have to be built from timber starting in 2025. A single house would need to contain at least 80 percent wood to qualify, while multifamily housing up to 10 stories would need to contain at least 65 percent; buildings over 10 stories can skate by with at least 50 percent.

H/t to Dezeen

The Architects’ Journal’s home office will be razed and replaced with a tower

The Hackney, London, home of the Architect’s Journal will reportedly be torn down and replaced with a nine-story tower. The existing 1960s-era office building there, known as the Telephone House, is set to be torn down and replaced with a much larger office block designed by Piercy & Company instead of retrofitted. The building contains the offices of AJ parent company EMAP and CF Møller Architects, among others.

H/t to the Architects’ Journal