New York Times on Michelle Kaufmann: "It Isn't Easy Building Green"


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A year after the closure of MK Designs, Tracey Taylor of the New York Times interviews Michelle Kaufmann, looking back at the difficulties of building a business around green modern prefab. 25,000 people toured the Glidehouse at its debut rom at the Sunset Weekend event in 2004; I was there and watched in awe as people lined up for an hour in the sun. Taylor writes:

"The overwhelming response jump-started the company, which until that point had been a one-woman operation. It seemed like the right idea at the right time."

Taylor describes how the industry grew, and why:

Together, the green prefab companies represent a tiny segment of the home construction market, but with their focus on sustainability and affordability, they offer the prospect of genuinely green homes delivered to a mass market -- an alternative to cookie-cutter spec houses and bloated McMansions. "Before the economic meltdown, all builders were looking at prefab in one way or another," said Leo Marmol, founder of Marmol Radziner.

(see Leo Marmol's first prefab in Marmol Radziner: stunning new prefabs)

Then she describes the closing.

"We had all invested so much of ourselves into the mission of making thoughtful, sustainable design accessible," Ms. Kaufmann said. "Closing was heartbreaking."

Read it all in the New York Times

Read also our take on it: Modern Prefab On The Ropes: Michelle Kaufmann Packs It In and The Glidehouse Is At The End Of The Road For Green Modern Prefab

But the last word goes to Greg Lavardera, who commented on my post:

Don't forget there are others out there still doing it - Hive and Wee House, and Res4. A lot was learned in that wave, and it made so much more impact than any of the other prefab attempts that came before. When the economy settles we'll have a much better idea of what will work moving forward. I still think the future is shiny!

And Steve Glenn with Living Homes and Blu Homes and others, still plugging away. He's right.