Daily digest: RIOS shows off its new office in Austin, an update on the Flatiron auction, and more news

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Daily digest: RIOS shows off its new office in Austin, an update on the Flatiron auction, and more news

RIOS Austin office (Chase Daniel)

Happy Friday! To finish off the week AN editors have rounded up a few news items you may have missed this week, from images of the new office interiors for design collective RIOS to proposed bird-safe legislation to an update on the Flatiron auction debacle, here’s what you need to know as we slide into the weekend.

people around confrence table
(Chase Daniel)

RIOS shares photos of its new Austin office

Design collective RIOS has released images of its newly relocated and expanded office space in East Austin. After successful projects within the city, such as the new hi-fi listening room and bar Equipment Room at Hotel Magdalena, the redesign of 600 Congress, and Austin’s first CLT project, just to name a few, the collective decided to solidify its presence there. RIOS was founded in Los Angeles and opened a studio in Austin in 2019.

“As the infrastructure of Austin grows, we recognize that there will be many pressures on residents and the community,” said John Hallock, studio director of RIOS Austin, in a press release. “Our expanded presence in the Austin market allows us to support complex projects, and our collaborative and multidisciplinary approach positions us to be a driving force to bring to life positive design influence throughout the area.”

More details about RIOS in Austin can be found on the firm’s website.

Flatiron Building prospective owner sued after missed down payment

As AN reported in March Flatiron Building sold for $190 million at auction. A supreme court judge had ordered the building to go to auction after its ownership consortium could not reach an agreement on its much needed renovations and future tenants. In came Jacob Garlick, founder partner of investment firm Abraham Trust, to place the winning bid. However, Garlick did not make the $19 million down payment within two days of the auction as was required.

The building’s owners have now sued Garlick for fraud, claiming, in broad terms, that the act was a publicity stunt. The owners are suing to receive the $19 million down payment alongside damages and fees. On April 10, Garlick had tried to attain an extension to make the down payment, attempting to prove significant cash and asset holdings.

The building will now go to a second auction on May 23 in which bidders will be required to arrive with a $100,000 check made out to the court-appointed referee overseeing the case.

H/t to Crain’s New York

rendering of two-bedroom unit

Samara introduces new Two Bedroom Backyard units

Airbnb’s cofounder Joe Gebbia’s new venture Samara continues to grow with the introduction of its new Two Bedroom Backyard units. As previously reported by AN, Gebbia and his new cofounder Mike McNamara launched Samara last November with its first offering, Backyard.

Samara’s Backyard products are prefabricated backyard dwellings previously only offered as studios or one-bedroom units. Each is equipped with the basic amenities for a long-term resident, such as a full kitchen with a dishwasher, spacious walk-in shower and wide vanity, washer/dryer unit, and plentiful storage. They also come standard with insulated steel-clad panels and an HVAC system for air purification. Each unit allows for customizable options regarding their base color, roof color, entrance location (side or front), deck, windows, solar capabilities, wardrobe finish, blinds, and more.

The company’s new Two Bedroom Backyard units expand upon these previously conceived forms adding more space and customizable options. For comparison, Studio Backyard units are 420 gross square feet, One Bedroom Backyard units are 540 gross square feet, and the new Two Bedroom Backyard units are 690 gross square feet. In addition, the new configuration introduces double doors and a deck on the front facade as a base option.

Samara’s new Two Bedroom Backyard units are currently available in California starting at $369,000 in Southern California and $379,000 in the Bay Area.

UN human rights experts denounce the planned execution of NEOM opponents

Human rights experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council denounced the planned execution of three members of three Huwaitat Tribe, who are being displaced by the construction of NEOM in Saudi Arabia’s northwest corner. Shadly Ahmad Mahmoud Abou Taqiqa al-Huwaiti, Ibrahim Salih Ahmad Abou Khalil al-Huwaiti, and Atallah Moussa Mohammed al-Huwaiti received death sentences last August under a broad-sweeping anti-terrorism law, which were upheld in January. Three other members of the tribe were imprisoned with sentences ranging from 27 to 50 years. The experts also advocated for an investigation into torture allegations. 

As AN has previously reported, the project to build a 170-kilometer-long city has been marred by human rights violations, let alone its disastrous environmental impact. Nonetheless, prominent international architecture firms have signed onto the project: Morphosis; OMA; Peter Cook; Pei Cobb Freed and Partners; Fuksas; Tom Wiscombe; Adjaye Associates; UNStudio; HOK; Coop Himmelb(l)au; Oyler Wu; DMAA. Amid speculation, the project’s construction does seem to be underway.

H/t to The Guardian

New York City Council bill aims to prohibit unnecessary nighttime lighting

A proposed New York City Council bill would prohibit nighttime illumination in many commercial office buildings, when unoccupied, in order to reduce bird strike deaths. The bill, introduced by council members Francisco P. Moya and Lincoln Restler, would impact both interior and exterior lighting on Class B and M buildings. Small stores would be exempt, and landmarked buildings would be able to apply for a waiver if desired. The proposed bill further specifies that window displays could stay on until midnight, and in general, buildings may receive exceptions for security purposes.

If passed, the bill would significantly benefit the 230,000 birds that die in the city annually. Many migratory birds are attracted buildings’ glowing lights at night. Given that migratory birds typically fly at night, the scale of New York’s light pollution is a major draw. The bill draws on similar legislation that was passed in 2021, which reduced lighting in buildings owned and operated by the city.

H/t to The Gothamist