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Thursday, January 19, 2017


Advocating Through Better Stories

Earlier this evening I attended a presentation by Katie Gerfen, who is the Editor of design coverage at ARCHITECT and BUILDER magazines, the Editor of Residential Architect and Custom Home magazines, and is in town as a part of the AIA Cincinnati VISION Lecture Series. The title of the presentation was 'Advocacy: Beyond a Press Release' with a focus on the importance of storytelling. With the topic being very much on point with what I am doing on the Starter Home 2.0 Project, I thought I would summarize the talk with a couple key takeaways I plan on putting into action with respect to the Oakley Home 2.0 @ 3874 Isabella.
Takeaway #1 - Understanding what storytelling is and why it is Important: Storytelling in the context of architecture and real estate development is about sharing the information beyond the press release and beyond the real estate listing that simply state facts like the size of the building, date it was built, and where it is located. Storytelling, on the other hand has an audience, an intent, and a mission to change people's minds by being interesting and memorable. 

The Starter Home 2.0 Story, as an example, is geared to the Millennial Generation of home buyers who desire a residence with the proximity and walkability of older established neighborhoods, but the amenities of newer homes often associated with suburbia. The intent is to change the mindset that you need to settle for one or the other, and prove that contemporary new homes can be built in the context of established, walkable neighborhoods, with the flexibility to accommodate growing households in future years.

A secondary story associated with all of this, is describing the process behind the Architect-Developer model I practice in hopes of empowering other architects and designers trained in place-making to become more engaged in shaping their built environment through real estate development.

Takeaway #2 - Don't be afraid to use other formats for storytelling: In today's world, the average human attention span has been reduced to a mere 8 seconds (one second less than the attention span of a gold fish), while the amount of time per day spent staring at a screen of some sort has jumped to a whopping 10 hours. Taking this into account along with the fact that 65% of people are considered visual learners (35% are auditory), it means that stories need to be told in a variety of ways ranging from video, to Instagram, to virtual walk-throughs with an emphasis on visuals to be memorable and effective in changing minds. 

While I'm still holding out on opening up any Instagram accounts, I do make an effort to try and tell the Starter Home 2.0 story not only through this blog, but through online photo albums, videos, walkthroughs, and virtual panoramas. I imagine certain formats are more effective at telling the story than others, but I also believe that format changes from person to person, which makes it worthwhile to continue to experiment across all media.