The Rand

Posted by Paul Ognibene on June 20, 2016

Located at 1975 Massachusetts Avenue, adjacent to the Porter Square station on the MBTA Red Line, this four-story mixed-use building includes 20 residential units with private parking and 3,600 sf of ground-level retail space. Built with an innovative modular construction process, the building was structurally in place in just four days. The prime location of the project led to the pre-sale of all market-rate units before the completion of the project.

Click here to see an interesting time-lapse video of the construction of The Rand.

Click here to see a Virtual Tour of The Rand.


As you may have noticed from my previous post on micro-apartments, I find them to be very interesting. I am particularly intrigued by how clever high-tech automation features and sheer creativity can make small homes comfortable and efficient. In this post, I wanted to share with you some of the more interesting small home ideas that include cutting edge automation technologies.

One of the projects that captured my attention is Kasita. Jeff Wilson, Kasita’s founder, has come to be known as Professor Dumpster after he spent one year living in… well, you guessed it, a dumpster. Jeff managed to turn a 33 square foot trash container into a livable space equipped with a small AC, weather station, under the floor storage space, and solar panels. While living in a trash container is too extreme for most small home enthusiasts, Jeff used his experience to design a comfortable and tech savvy mobile micro apartments, known as Kasita units.

Kasita units come pre-configured with a set of smart technologies such as a smart thermostat and a voice command device. But, my favorite is a View Dynamic Glass that can adjust to the movement of the sun or on command from of your mobile device. View Dynamic Glass enables you to do is to basically control the tint level of the windows throughout the day depending on your preferences. The technology behind this glass is quite fascinating. The coating of the glass consists of multiple layers of ceramic material and when low voltage electricity is applied to the coating, the window darkens. Large windows are integral to small home designs as they help small spaces feel lighter and loftier. View Dynamic Glass provides full control of the light and heat coming through a window without losing the view.

Another interesting feature of Kasita units is that they easily fit inside specially designed docking stations. The purpose of this is to make these micro apartments interchangeable and transportable. So next time you want to move, you tap a button on your app and a big rig comes to pick up your house, and your house moves with you!

Another amazing idea of a smart small home is currently being developed by Intel. Intel imagines a world where homes are part of the intelligent and integrated city network. Intel’s tiny home idea incorporates an integrated system of smart home technologies that can be controlled through a single Intel tablet application. So imagine that you are hard at work at your office when a sensor goes off at your home indicating a possible water leak. The app will alert you to the leak as well as provide you with the options to call appropriate service. Through the app, you can remotely control almost everything in your house; you can use the app to lock the doors, turn off lights, adjust the thermostat, and even turn on the oven.

Both of these projects are still in their development phases. I am definitely intrigued to see how well they do once they show up on the market.

I recently came across this article about Minneapolis and St. Paul using public money to build major sports facilities. According to the article, the two cities have spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on sports facilities since 1990. Sounds a bit outrageous, doesn’t it? If you wonder why public dollars are ever spent on sports infrastructure, the theory behind it is that sport stadiums spur local economic growth.

Supporters of public financing of sports stadiums say that these facilities will host lots of games that will attract hordes of fans eager to spend money at local businesses. But according to many sports economists, this isn’t true. Major stadiums are usually underutilized and the financial benefits aren’t enough to cover their development costs. In fact, large shopping malls tend to have a bigger impact in terms of job creation and spending.

For Bostonians, it may be nice to know that Boston’s major sports arenas have been funded without taxpayers’ money. Fenway Park, for example, has been renovating for years, adding a new pavilion and increasing seating, but they managed to do it without a single dollar of public money!


As micro-housing becomes an increasingly popular trend in cities around the world, you may be wondering if it will become the future of urban residential real estate development. While living in a 350 square foot apartment may not appeal to everyone, I am sure that micro-apartments are here to stay.

Small living can be a convenient, efficient, and eco-friendly lifestyle choice. According to the World Bank, more than half of the world’s 7 billion people live in urban settings. By 2050, more than 2/3 of people worldwide will live in urban areas. Micro-housing is one way of re-imagining how we live that will help accommodate such a rapid rate of urbanization.

So what can you expect from life in a new 350 square foot apartment? Imagine your new space with high-tech state-of-the-art home automation features like keyless locks, smart thermostats, motion sensing, programmable shades and many others. Your new micro-home will come equipped with a tastefully designed full bathroom, kitchen, and a living room/bedroom. Furniture will be custom made to serve multiple functions. Your micro-apartment will be just for you –private and comfortable. And best of all, it will be more affordable than a traditional studio or a one-bedroom apartment.

If you are concerned about missing out on the camaraderie of having roommates, don’t despair! Micro-housing communities are designed to include top-notch shared facilities such as fitness centers, media rooms, and other gathering spaces. Since micro apartments are typically located is bustling cities, the city itself is your building’s main amenity! Your neighbors will most likely be a lot like you: young, single professionals who are thirsty for everything that the city has to offer. You can make new friends when you want, and then retreat into the privacy of your own home when you need some down time.

A smaller home will also challenge you to think more creatively about the way you use your space. You’ll likely discover that all those “valuable” possessions you stashed away for years in the back of your closet are nothing but clutter, and getting rid of them can be a liberating experience. House cleaning is also a lot easier and you can clean your well-organized, clutter-free home in a matter of minutes.

Living small is convenient and efficient, and it’s also good for our growing cities. Most micro-housing is built in vibrant and popular urban neighborhoods with easy access to public transportation, restaurants, shopping, and business centers. Easy access means that you no longer need to own a car, so you won’t have to worry about looking for a parking spot on Saturday night or on street cleaning mornings. And as more people embrace micro-housing, there will be fewer cars and less traffic congestion.

For a look into living comfortably in a tiny home, check out this video of a great micro-apartment. You’ll love this creative approach to managing a small space!

January 28th was a proud day for Urban Spaces! Our condominium project, the Lancaster, located at 1501 Commonwealth Avenue, was awarded a prestigious LEED Gold Certification by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). This achievement is particularly meaningful to us because the Lancaster is the first Boston-based condominium project to ever receive this award!

For those who don’t know, LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It represents a coveted certification that aims to influence the ways in which buildings are designed, built and operated. The Lancaster project achieved LEED Gold Certification for a number of reasons including location and high performance mechanical systems, which were implemented to enhance occupant comfort and satisfaction. Our building is resource-efficient and will benefit the families living there today and for generations to come through lower energy and water bills and better air quality, all while leaving a smaller environmental footprint.

This recognition by USGBC is an important milestone for Urban Spaces and we are dedicated to continue developing projects in harmony with our environment.

Here is the press release prepared by CLEAResult:

Winning the Gold

New condo first to achieve LEED Gold certification in Boston The Lancaster by Urban Spaces earns national honor


The Lancaster by Urban Spaces. High-resolution image available upon request.

BOSTON, Mass. (March 15, 2016) – A new condominium developed by Urban Spaces of Cambridge has been LEED Gold certified by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), making it the first Boston condominium project to achieve this level of green building certification.

The Lancaster, located at 1501 Commonwealth Avenue between Boston University and Boston College in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood, has 55 units and sits adjacent to the MBTA’s Green Line.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, buildings use less water and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among many more benefits to the people who live there, the community and the environment.

“The Lancaster’s LEED Gold Certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Rick Fedrizzi, the CEO and Founding Chair of the USGBC. “The urgency of USGBC’s mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before. Given the extraordinary importance of climate protection and the central

role of the building industry in that effort, Urban Spaces demonstrates their leadership through their LEED certification of The Lancaster. With The Lancaster, Urban Spaces serves as a prime example of just how much can be accomplished.”

“We are honored to receive the LEED Gold Certification for The Lancaster,” said Paul Ognibene, the founder and CEO of Urban Spaces. “The Lancaster has been a labor of love for us. And now to know that The Lancaster is the very first condominium in Boston to receive the Gold designation makes this project even more special for all of us who worked on it.”

“It is comforting to know that the families who call The Lancaster their home will benefit from lower energy and water bills and better air quality while leaving a smaller environmental footprint behind for many generations to come,” Ognibene said.

“The Lancaster achieved LEED Gold Certification because of a number of factors such as location and high performance mechanical systems—without sacrificing occupant comfort and satisfaction,” said Taza Vercruysse, project manager at CLEAResult, the consulting and verification services firm and LEED Green Rater for this project. “Urban Spaces has built a resource-efficient multi-family building that reduced waste during construction, maximizes performance, conserves energy, and is easy on the environment due to such features as its close proximity to public transportation.”

About Urban Spaces

The Lancaster was developed by Urban Spaces, a Cambridge-based real estate company which develops mid-sized residential and commercial projects in growing neighborhoods. Founded in 2004, Urban Spaces focuses on properties in close proximity to public transportation, universities, hospitals, and employment hubs.

About CLEAResult

CLEAResult is the largest provider of energy efficiency programs and services in North America. Through proven strategies tailored to clients’ unique needs and market dynamics, the combined strength of experienced energy experts and technology-enabled service offerings help CLEAResult change the way people use energy for hundreds of utility and business partners. Founded in 2003, CLEAResult is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and has close to 3,000 employees in more than 70 cities across the U.S. and Canada. CLEAResult is a portfolio company of General Atlantic, a leading global growth equity firm. For more information, visit

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