What they're reading now

Real estate pros share picks for books on Douglas MacArthur, architecture and being overwhelmed by change

Feb.February 01, 2017 07:00 AM

Bruce Eichner

Founder, The Continuum Company

What are you reading right now or what did you finish most recently? “MacArthur at War: World War II in the Pacific” by Walter Borneman.

What spurred you to read that book? I like to read books about significant historical people because it’s our history. I’m interested in the history of Western civilization and the history of the country I live in.

Has anything you read in it stuck with you? That MacArthur was a very controlling individual. He wanted to control virtually any information about the war situation, whether those reports were accurate or not. He wanted to make sure that whatever was in those reports was what he wanted to tell them in Washington. Today, the world that we live in is such a ridiculously open book. Every social medium would totally rip asunder the privacy of the world of 30 years ago or 50 years ago. I was aware I was reading about something that could have only have happened at that time.

Carri Lyon
Co-Head, National Not-for-Profit Practice Group, Cushman & Wakefield

What are you reading? “New York Transformed: The Architecture of Cross & Cross” by architect Peter Pennoyer and architectural historian Anne Walker. Founded by brothers John and Eliot Cross in 1907, the architecture firm Cross & Cross is largely forgotten today, but the firm’s work is remarkable for its breadth of building types and flair for detail — everything from the Tiffany Building and the RCA Victor Building, also known as 570 Lexington, to country houses for some of the nation’s wealthiest and most influential figures.

What spurred you to read that book? I majored in art history in college and considered getting a Ph.D. in architectural history, but instead went to law school. For the past 20 years, I’ve worked in commercial brokerage and it’s been wonderful having the opportunity to go inside so many of the buildings I’ve written about.

Has anything you read in it stuck with you? Would you recommend it to others? Absolutely. For those who love architecture and New York City history, it’s a great read. What’s especially interesting is that while the Cross brothers were old-line New Yorkers with impeccable educational credentials, they were also shrewd businessmen who were successful real estate developers at a time when it was frowned upon by the American Institute of Architects.

Jamie Hodari
Chief executive and co-founder, Industrious

What are you reading? I’m reading “Future Shock” by the futurist Alvin Toffler [published in 1970]. It posits that as the pace of change in the world accelerates, people feel an overwhelming sense of almost sickness at experiencing too much change, too quickly.

What spurred you to read that book? It felt relevant to me on two levels. First, we’re in a political moment where a large portion of the country seems to long for some previous version of America that felt more comfortable. Second, it seemed applicable to me professionally, given the vertiginous pace of change in the way companies utilize space.

Has anything you read in it stuck with you? Would you recommend it to others? Yes. Certain elements of it feel quite dated, but the broader premise feels more timely than ever. I’m constantly noting how applicable it is to the co-working industry and real estate more broadly. On the ground, we see a rapid transformation in the way American companies hope to utilize real estate. When we speak to landlords, there’s often an enormous resistance to this idea, and they often insist that the fundament of commercial real estate, the 10-year lease, will never change. The book helps provide at least one framework for explaining why that disconnect might occur. 

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