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Back in 2008, two young design graduates were so strapped for cash, they could not pay their rent. They knew there was a design conference near their home, and a shortage of hotel beds, so the pair bought three mattresses, put them on the floor, and rented them out.

That was how Airbnb got started. The two men, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, were later joined by Nathan Blecharczyk, and together turned their idea into an online platform, putting people who are in search of a bed for the night in touch with those with a spare one to rent.

“We never considered the notion we were participating in a new economy,” Chesky said later. “We were just trying to solve our own problem. After we solved our own problem, we realized many other people want this.”

Five-and-a-half years on, the platform is flourishing. So far, its users have arranged 11 million stays, in 35,000 cities in 192 countries, with accommodation ranging from luxury villas to tree houses to living-room sofas.

It proves particularly successful when – as in the case of the design conference – there are surges in demand. In London, Airbnb got a major boost around the London Olympics, when appetite for a place to stay was such that one taxi driver rented his cab for 50 pounds a night.

The company, whose early backers included Ashton Kutcher, the actor and serial technology entrepreneur, and Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm, does not disclose its financials.

However, PrivCo, a New York analysis firm which studies private companies, estimated that it took $189 million  in revenues in 2012. Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, predicted in early 2013 that that figure would soon hit $1 billion a year.

Airbnb makes its money by taking a 3-percent cut every time someone rents through the service. It may not actually own any beds, but a just-completed $450 million funding round, led by TPG Capital, values the business at $10 billion – more than Intercontinental Hotels. Airbnb’s three founders are now worth more than $1 billion a piece.

Unsurprisingly, this rapid growth has the traditional hotel industry worried.

Hotel trade organisations around the world have campaigned to have the service shut down, or tried to force hosts to comply with onerous red tape, originally designed for big businesses. They have had varying degrees of success. In Britain, local councils are broadly happy to ignore old-fashioned legislation and are in discussions to scrap some laws which no longer make sense. But across the Atlantic, in New York, it is a very different picture.

Nowhere is the battle more intense than in Manhattan, where cramped hotel rooms cost an average of $267 a night.

Owners of these establishments object to the fact that Airbnb hosts are not held to the same safety standards as they are, and that many users will dodge hotel taxes, levied at around 15 percent of the cost of a stay.

The city’s powerful Hotel Association also claims that people are breaking state laws whenever they rent their homes out for fewer than 30 days at a time, unless they are there themselves.

Many hosts also find themselves in breach of their tenancy agreements, leading to evictions.

“Airbnb and a few other companies are changing the universe of what people assume are their rights as residents in neighborhoods,” Liz Kreuger, the New York State Senator who drew up some of these laws, told Time magazine. “It’s challenging the model of business regulation and frankly it’s wreaking havoc in certain communities.”

The hoteliers’ campaign has gained considerable traction. In 2013, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed information on 15,000 New York-area hosts to determine if they were paying any hotel taxes. Airbnb has objected to the subpoena as too broad, and the two parties are currently in discussion to reach an out-of-court agreement.

The company has taken the point on taxes, however. Last month, the business wrote to Bill de Blasio, New York’s new mayor, asking permission to be able collect hotel taxes from Airbnb hosts, and hand it to the government itself, relieving individuals of the red tape, and ensuring the state received an extra $21 million a year.

“New Yorkers [have] told us time and time again that paying their fair share was their top priority. We heard them loud and clear,” Chesky wrote later in the Huffington Post. “But today, officials tell us that current tax laws prevent us from collecting those taxes, and even if we did, the government couldn’t take the cheque.”

David Hantman, the company’s head of public policy, added with a flourish that that $21 million would be enough money to buy textbooks for 420,000 schoolchildren and deliver 2.9 million meals to the elderly.

Perhaps conscious that Airbnb was winning favour, the hotel lobby suddenly changed its tune. It now insists that Airbnb should not be allowed to pay taxes as a regulated entity, because that would lend it a veneer of respectability which it does not deserve. “For them to turn over a law to collect taxes is them just trying to legitimise what we see as an illegal business,” said Geoffrey Mills, the Hotel Association’s chairman.

To many Airbnb loyalists, the hotel lobby’s objections are starting to look a lot like protectionism. Many New York establishments do a good job, but others, especially those on the outskirts of the city, have relied on limited competition to gouge money out of travellers and are suddenly losing traction.

Airbnb’s New York battle may be the fiercest it faces, but it is not the only one, by any stretch. In San Francisco, it is fighting against a similar clampdown on short-term rentals. Meanwhile, in Amsterdam, the city authority was concerned that landlords would buy up swathes of apartments to turn them into Airbnb flats, forcing long-standing tenants out.

It is a familiar war for companies that participate in the so-called sharing economy. Uber, a service which allows people to summon a minicab on their smartphone, and Lyft, which enables ordinary people to run a de facto taxi service, has faced fierce opposition from San Francisco’s licensed taxi drivers. They have run a virtual monopoly for years, but suddenly the old system is under threat.

But while the regulatory battles are vicious, it seems difficult to resist the rise of sharing services, which lessen the burden on the environment by reducing demand for resources, and which make economic sense by empowering individuals to become micro-entrepreneurs.

Alongside Lyft and Airbnb are services such as Parking Panda, which allows people to rent out their driveways, Rentoid, which lets users hire someone else’s rarely used camping equipment for a fraction of the price it would cost to buy, and Taskrabbit, which allows people to advertise for help with office errands or chores.

“The world is going in our direction. People demand it and it is here to stay,” Hantman told The Sunday Telegraph.

Airbnb brings many social benefits as well, he adds. In the end, research by Amsterdam’s city authority found that the service actually helped to keep communities intact. By renting out their spare rooms on Airbnb, existing residents were able to raise a bit of extra cash to pay the rent, enabling them to stay in their homes despite the onward march of gentrification.

Arguably, Airbnb always needed the downturn to get off the ground in the first place. For many people, the idea of inviting a stranger to stay on their sofa, or handing them the keys to their house, is a deeply uncomfortable one, born out of necessity rather than choice.

“The leap is a big one, so it starts off as a financial decision,” says Hantman.

Equally, a lot of travellers only resorted to Airbnb because they couldn’t afford or couldn’t find a traditional hotel, leading to a few lean years.

The founders “ate nothing for two years, because it was a total failure. It is only in the last three years that this has been anything of relevance,” says Hantman.

Once people tried it, however, many were hooked, and these days, Airbnb’s community is borderline evangelical about the service. Travellers appreciate the insight home-stays give them into ordinary life in a city, rather than the overpriced tourist version, as well as the opportunity to stay in some whacky constructions. Many users have also forged friendships with their hosts.

Inevitably, there have been some disaster tales. In recent weeks, one Airbnb host returned back to his Manhattan apartment unexpectedly, only to find that it was being used to host an orgy. Reports have also emerged of prostitutes renting out apartments and turning them into temporary brothels.

These are the most headline-grabbing scare stories, but Airbnb’s message boards also turn up more ordinary problems: guests damaging property, incidences of theft, and hosts who have made their guests feel uncomfortable.

Airbnb has a “trust and safety team” which tries to combat these events, but Hantman admits that with 11 million users, the service is vulnerable to “everything that happens in life”. “To be honest, it is surprising how little it happens.”

Inevitably, these events have been seized upon by Airbnb’s critics, hoping to discredit the service and put a dent in its popularity.

They are unlikely to cause any great worry to investors, however. Analysts have interpreted the company’s recent capitulation over taxes as a sure sign that it is preparing for an initial public offering.

Chesky has gone on record saying no such thing is in the works for 2014.

“We will do it at a time when it benefits the company – when we have a good reason,” he told the Wall Street Journal. But for some observers that was as good as saying it will happen next year, just around the corner.

Airbnb “is giving every clear signal of going public”, says PrivCo’s chief executive, Sam Hamadeh. “When you have an IPO pending, the last thing you want is regulatory uncertainty.”


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Survey on China’s manufacturing sector among events over the next two days that could provide some interest. — Reuters file picSYDNEY, April 22 — The dollar held at two-week highs against a basket of major currencies early today after a subdued session overnight, with many global financial centres shut for the Easter long-weekend holiday.

Traders expect a slow start with no major economic data out of Asia, although Australian inflation numbers, a survey on China’s manufacturing sector and an interest rate review in New Zealand over the next two days could provide some interest.

The dollar index was last at 79.963, having gained nearly 0.2 per cent yesterday. Against the yen, the greenback was at ¥102.63, not far from a two-week high of ¥102.71.

The yen suffered a mild setback yesterday after data showed Japan’s export growth slowed to its weakest in a year, adding pressure on policy makers to inject more stimulus.

The euro, which also scaled a two-week peak of ¥141.84 yesterday, was last at ¥141.55. It dipped to a near two-week low against the greenback at US$1.3787 although trading overnight was light with much of Europe shut.

“With ECB president Mario Draghi scheduled to speak later this week, the fresh batch of ECB rhetoric may undermine the bullish sentiment surrounding the single currency,” said David Song, analyst at DailyFX in New York.

“EUR/USD may continue to give back the rebound from earlier this month should the central bank head look to implement more non-standard measures ahead of the second-half of 2014.”

Draghi is scheduled to give a keynote speech in Amsterdam on Thursday. He recently made clear the euro’s strength was a possible trigger for the central bank to ease policy.

The greenback also gained a bit of ground against commodity currencies such as the New Zealand dollar, which sagged to a 2½-week trough of US$0.8555.

While the market is fully priced for a second interest rate hike by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand on Thursday, speculation has mounted that the central bank might temper aggressive tightening expectations for this year.

“We expect the one-page statement will strike a more cautious tone than previously, mainly due to the high exchange rate and soft inflation data,” said Imre Speizer, strategist at Westpac Bank in Auckland. — Reuters

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April 22 (Reuters) – For other related diaries, please

DIARY – U.S. Federal Reserve

DIARY – European Central Bank

DIARY – Polling Unit Diary

DIARY – Today in Washington

DIARY – Key World Financial Events

DIARY – Political and General news

DIARY – Index of all Diaries

DIARY – Economic Data Forecast

DIARY – Major Central Bank Events

** This Diary is filed daily **


TORONTO, Canada – Former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve,
Ben Bernanke, will give a speech entitled “Eight Years of Crisis
Management at the Federal Reserve and the Way Forward” – 1545
HALIFAX, Canada – Canadian Finance Minister Joe Oliver will
speak at a Halifax Chamber of Commerce lunch in Nova Scotia -
1545 GMT.


LONDON – Bank of England will release the minutes of April
Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting – 0830 GMT.
HELSINKI – Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, Finance
Minister Jutta Urpilainen and The Finns Party leader Timo Soini
participate in a election debate – 1300 GMT.
KYOTO, Japan – Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Hiroshi Nakaso
speaks at an International Association of Deposit Insurers’
conference in Kyoto – 0025 GMT.
TALLINN – Estonian Central Bank to hold its Financial Stability
news conference.


AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – ECB President Mario Draghi gives a
keynote speech at the conference “De Nederlandsche Bank 200
years: central banking in the next two decades” organized by De
Nederlandsche Bank in Amsterdam – 0900 GMT.
STOCKHOLM – Swedish Riksbank will release the minutes of April
monetary policy meeting – 0730 GMT.
MADRID – ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio speaks at a
conference on Banking Union organized by Master in Banking and
Financial Regulation/Center for Banking Studies, University of
Navarra in Madrid – 1615 GMT.
SASKATOON, Canada – Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz
speaks to the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership in
Saskatoon – 1845 GMT.
WELLINGTON – Reserve Bank of New Zealand announces Official
Cash Rate (OCR).


BERNE – Swiss National Bank (SNB) Chairman of Governing Board
Thomas Jordan and President Jean Studer speaks at the SNB’s
General Shareholders Meeting in Berne – 0800 GMT.
AMSTERDAM – ECB Supervisory Chair Daniele Nouy speaks on
supervision at DNB conference on “Central banking in the next
two decades” in Amsterdam – 0830 GMT.
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – Bank for International Settlements
(BIS) General Manager Jaime Caruana speaks at a conference in
Amsterdam to mark the 200th anniversary of the Dutch central
bank – 1330 GMT.
CALGARY, Canada – Canadian Finance Minister Joe Oliver delivers
a speech to the Calgary chapter of the Economic Club of Canada -
1400 GMT.


BONN, Germany – ECB President Mario Draghi speaks at the joint
conference of the coalition party groups of the German
government in Bonn, Germany – 1430 GMT.
FRANKFURT – ECB Executive Board members Vitor Constancio,
Benoit Coeure and Peter Praet speak at the conference “Financial
integration and stability in a new financial architecture”
jointly organized by the ECB and the European Commission in
Frankfurt, Germany.
NEW YORK – Former Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan speaks
before the Economic Club of New York.
PARIS – Bank of France Governor Christian Noyer holds news
conference on “The stakes for economic and monetary policy – the
situation in France and the euro zone” – 0800 GMT.


WASHINGTON – Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA)
Annual 2014 Washington Policy Summit (to May 2). Federal Reserve
Chair Janet Yellen speaks on the third day of the conference -
1230 GMT.
DUBLIN – Central Bank of Ireland Conference on “Macro to Micro
- A New Era in Financial Statistics”.


WASHINGTON – U.S. Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market
Committee (FOMC) announces decision on interest rates.
TOKYO – Bank of Japan monetary policy meeting.


BRUSSELS – Eurogroup meeting.


Enquiries to customer help desks — double click on
for telephone numbers.


NOTE: The inclusion of diary items does not necessarily mean
that Reuters will file a story based on the event.

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April 21, 2014

Cyrus ill, postpones U.S. tour, resumes in August

by MESFIN FEKADU AP Music Writer

The Clinton Herald
The Clinton Herald

Mon Apr 21, 2014, 07:37 AM CDT

NEW YORK — Miley Cyrus is postponing her U.S. tour while she recovers from an allergic reaction to antibiotics, but will resume her performances in August.

Cyrus’ representative tells The Associated Press that the singer will resume the U.S. tour Aug. 1 in Uniondale, N.Y.

The new dates will include seven rescheduled shows and two additional stops.

The European leg of the tour is still scheduled to kick off May 2 in Amsterdam.

Cyrus’ rep says the singer suffered from a sinus infection last week during her “Bangerz” tour and had “an extreme allergic reaction” to the antibiotic cephalexin on Tuesday.

Cyrus canceled several shows this week as a result.

Existing tickets for the 21-year-old singer’s U.S. tour will be honored at the new date.

Text Only

The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa. All rights
reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,
rewritten or redistributed.

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Hearing the actors at the outdoor theater in Ashland sometimes means leaning in, straining to hear. Now, audiences may be in luck. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival will install a new sound system in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre in time for the opening of the 2014 productions in June. Described as state-of-the-art, the system includes new microphones, speakers and sound control “designed to
enhance the voice, bringing clarity, articulation and projection
throughout the venue,” according to the festival. Moreover, the theater’s assisted-hearing devices should improve, too.

The system comes from Berkeley-based Meyer Sound, which has installed an enhanced sound system for amplified events in the legendary Concertgebouw hall in Amsterdam. In Ashland, the new system should provide even coverage throughout the theater.

“The last several years we have received increased numbers of audience comments about the difficulty hearing the words in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre,” OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch said. “There are numerous reasons for this, and as a language-based, classical theater, we know that hearing the words is an absolute must.”

Venues with Meyer Sound products include the Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley, SFJAZZ and Jazz at Lincoln Center, as well as Vienna’s Musikverein, Oslo Concert Hall and Moscow’s Svetlanov Hall.

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Five-and-a-half years and hundreds of group tasting sessions later, Bonventre soon will rate his 10,000th beer, a feat only 30 people in the world, six of them Americans, have achieved. He is not the site’s top user — a Danish man has more than 33,000 ratings — but Bonventre is among the elite.

“I’d call him a 1-percenter of RateBeerians,” says Goldschmidt, who joined the site in 2002, just two years after it was founded. “He rates like a madman, at a faster pace than I ever have, and travels for beer more than any other American rater.” Actually, Bonventre’s current rank among the site’s 333,000 members puts him in the top one-hundredth of 1 percent.

Bonventre became interested in beer in 1993 while stationed in England. The variety of colors and flavors of the stouts, India pale ales and cask bitters in British pubs showed him there was more to beer than Bud Light and other American pale lagers. Soon he was incorporating beer into occasional weekend trips throughout Europe, which naturally led him to Belgium.

Bonventre estimates he’s been there more than 30 times, often enough to befriend brewers such as De Struise’s Urbain Cotteau and to develop a love for gueuze, the dry, vinous Belgian style whose intense sourness challenges most palates. “It’s more interesting to drink beer on its home territory,” he explains. “Particularly the lambics and gueuze from the Senne River valley.”

Luckily for me, that didn’t stop him from popping the cork on a nine-year-old bottle of 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze, which he drew from a converted wine refrigerator packed with a hundred other dusty bottles. He uses a special oversize suitcase with an embedded GPS tracker chip for these souvenirs from trips overseas.

Since joining RateBeer, which the analytics firm Similar Web ranks as one of the top beverage sites on the Internet, Bonventre has logged beers from six continents and 145 countries. “I didn’t start living until I retired from the military,” he says. During his time in the Air Force, Bonventre spent 15 years working 100-hour weeks as a flight surgeon and then another five years traveling in Europe and Africa, doing humanitarian work. “There was no free time but a lot of alcohol,” he chuckles.

Kidding aside, Bonventre is skilled at using beer as a social lubricant, a tactic he saw deployed with great success with delegations at international conferences while in the military. It remains useful in his current position as a senior conflict adviser in USAID’s Bureau for Africa, where beer helps him break the ice when working on projects with members of disparate organizations. “People will talk to one another about beer all day,” he says. “Even if they come in with preconceived notions of the other agency, after a while they realize, ‘Hey, that other guy actually is human just like me, and we could work together.’”

Drinking on the job helps, of course, but Bonventre has rated most of his 10,000 beers during his off-hours, at a rate of 150 to 200 per month. Most of those he sampled on weekends, at tastings or on organized trips with his local RateBeer group. A typical tasting is a marathon affair, with each member drinking a few ounces of up to 30 beers over as many as 12 hours. At RateBeer’s Winter Gathering in February in Asheville, N.C., Bonventre visited 12 breweries in three days and attended two “bottle share” events, during which hundreds of RateBeer users from around the world offered each other samples from their personal collections.

Bonventre also travels on his own for beer, often to festivals, where he might taste 100 beers in a single weekend. Consider last year’s month-long vacation to New Zealand, where he sampled 200 brews, many at Wellington’s Beervana festival, which featured 70 breweries. Bonventre’s flexible work schedule allows for long-weekend trips to beer destinations as distant as Amsterdam or Brussels. About a dozen times since retirement, he has flown overnight on Friday, hit a beer festival on Saturday, explored beer spots in the city on Sunday and flown back on Monday. “You’re not there long enough to adjust to the local time,” he says. “Three-day weekend in Europe? Why not?”

To be sure, Bonventre is more than a casual drinker, but he insists that the quest for a new beer never feels like a chore. It could be one if he aspired to break into RateBeer’s top 10, dominated by Scandinavians averaging around 25,000 ratings each. “I hope I never get to 25,000,” he says wryly. “That would be spending too much time on this hobby.”

Nevertheless, he has other beer-related goals, many of them driven by Ratebeer’s statistical features. He is the site’s leading “place” reviewer, with more than 1,300 bars, stores and breweries logged. His next objective, to help fill in the blank spots on a world map showing where beers he has rated are produced, is to review a beer and place in every European country.

But Bonventre’s primary interest in RateBeer — and in beer in general — is social. He could skip the plane tickets and trade beers by mail, as many RateBeer users do, but he’d prefer to meet people other than the post office clerk. When traveling, he always posts a message to the local RateBeer forum. Without fail, he says, someone enthusiastically responds. Consider the man in Moldova who picked him up from the airport and took him on a tour of Chisinau bars and breweries. “We drove to a castle in Transnistria and had to bribe the Russian army to re-enter Moldova safely,” he remembers. “They would only take cold, hard cash — not beer.”

As someone who also logs beers (the old-fashioned way, in notebooks), I wondered how Bonventre balances documenting his discoveries with his desire to engage with others. “The social aspect always wins,” he answers, “even if I miss recording some rare beer I’ll likely never see again.”

His approach is not necessarily the norm. “A person who is new to RateBeer might be going for the most beers, or looking for the strongest or rarest beer they can find,” he says, “but at some point hopefully it dawns on them that it’s the search for those things that is the interesting part, and that people are more important than numbers.”

It should come as no surprise, then, how Bonventre plans to celebrate reaching his milestone. Technically, he tasted his 10,000th beer in January, but he’s keeping a backlog of ratings until three other RateBeer users — in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark — who are poised to reach the 10,000 mark this spring can catch up. Each rater is working with a hometown brewery on a commemorative beer to be tapped simultaneously at a trans-Atlantic party sometime in late June.

Bonventre’s local celebration will be a public event at Bluejacket, where his beer, tentatively dubbed “Gene Turns 10K,” was brewed in early February. He invited Terry Hawbaker, head brewer of Pizza Boy Brewing in Enola, Pa. — whose beers impressed him when Hawbaker worked at the now-defunct Farmers’ Cabinet in Alexandria — to brew with Bluejacket’s Bobby Bump, Josh Chapman and Greg Engert. “Gene’s a fantastic example of what real craft beer connoisseurship and enjoyment is all about,” says Engert, adding that he hopes to set up a video link to the parties in Europe and procure the other raters’ brews for the event.

The beer they created reflects Bonventre’s appreciation for low-alcohol, farmhouse-style saisons and sour ales. Just 4.9 percent alcohol by volume, it was brewed with two souring agents: lactobacillus bacteria and brettanomyces yeast. Flaked oats and rye were added to a base of Pilsener and pale malts to provide body and complexity to an otherwise simple beer. Three types of hops — French Aramis, Chinook and Citra — impart fruit, earth and spice characters. The resulting dry, acidic beer should be the perfect summer thirst-quencher.

Some is now in wine barrels that once held chardonnay from Grgich Hills Estate and cabernet franc from Larkin Wines. Both of those barrel-aged versions, and the original beer, will continue to condition for two more months.

Now Bonventre’s only challenge is choosing which of the three to drink for his official 10,000th rating. But the other two will be in good company. Within a few days of that event, when he catches up on the backlog of his tastings since January, he’ll already have passed another milestone: 11,000.

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Founded by renowned architect Hugh Hardy, the New York firm and its two predecessors have designed dozens of arts venues over five decades.

In the past two years alone, H3 has produced an award-winning black-box performance space atop New York’s Lincoln Center Theatre, a new building at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and a Brooklyn home for the Theatre for a New Audience.

“The performing arts are kind of the backbone of our practice,” H3 partner Geoff Lynch said from its Manhattan office.

He had just returned from Colorado Springs, where H3 plans a visual and performing arts center at the University of Colorado.

Soon Lynch will come to Greensboro, where H3 will apply its talents to the planned $65 million Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts.

H3 rose to the top when a community task force pondered a list of potential designers.

Hardy firms have tackled such high-profile projects as renovations at Radio City Music Hall, New Amsterdam Theatre and New Victory Theater in New York.

“There’s not a firm in the last 50 years that has had more involvement with building performing arts centers,” said Walker Sanders, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, which partners with the city on the project.

Tanger Center planners aim to open it in mid- to late 2016 on land bordered by North Elm and East Lindsay streets and Summit Avenue. It will connect to the planned Carolyn and Maurice LeBauer City Park.

Greensboro Coliseum Director Matt Brown, who will manage the Tanger Center, is preparing contracts to be reviewed by the City Council and a committee of private donors, who have pledged more than $35 million to the project, Sanders said. The council expects to consider the design contract in May.

Once H3 receives a contract, it will dive into design details.

Lynch came to Greensboro in October 2012, for a public work session called a charrette. H3 drew on public feedback to create preliminary ideas.

They envision a building of about 100,000 square feet, with a 3,000-seat theater to host touring Broadway shows, concerts and comedians, and local events including Greensboro Symphony concerts.

To Lynch and H3 project architect Mercedes Armillas, it represents more than a theater.

“By working on these buildings,” Lynch said, “you feel that you are not just creating a great place for a show, but that you are building a great community, building lively streets, building downtown, adding restaurants and street life to neighborhoods.”

He and Armillas point to the transformation of the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, where Hardy and H3 have done work over nearly 25 years.

“There’s a nightlife, there are new restaurants, there is activity on the street, there are cultural events all over,” Armillas said.

In 2012, the Brooklyn Academy of Music there opened the Hardy-designed Richard B. Fisher Building. The seven-story, $50 million building includes a 250-seat auditorium, rehearsal studio, classrooms, green roof garden and offices.

Then last fall, Theatre for a New Audience opened its $40 million Polonsky Shakespeare Center nearby, with a 299-seat Elizabethan courtyard-style theater for Shakespeare and classic drama.

“It has flexibility to support six or seven stage and seating configurations, which means that for a smallish theater like ours, we are not locked into one configuration,” Managing Director Dorothy Ryan said.

Its subscriber base has tripled. “There is typically a ‘honeymoon’ when you open a new facility because everyone wants to see it,” Ryan said by email. “So I don’t know if these numbers will be sustained, but we are off to a very good start.”

Lincoln Center in Manhattan long has bustled with performing arts and patrons. But it lacked a small theater for emerging playwrights and more intimate performances.

H3 designed the 112-seat Claire Tow Theatre complex to sit above Vivian Beaumont Theatre — literally. The $42 million project won a state award from the American Institute of Architects.

They didn’t build it directly on the roof.

“It was like creating a bridge, almost, above the existing building,” Armillas said. “It was quite an interesting challenge to do that in the middle of New York City.”

The Tanger Center’s challenges are not quite as dramatic.

Its requirements “are very much a combination of many other projects,” Armillas said. “It doesn’t fit any one mold but is more of a hybrid of so much that we have done in the past.”

They want to create a building that will promote activity all day, not just for a few hours at night.

The lobby’s design will be key to the building’s success, Lynch said. He envisions a glass wall opening onto a three-story lobby that can be used for corporate and school events, educational activities and parties.

“We want it to be not just a great place to walk into a half-hour before the show, or have a drink at intermission,” Lynch said. “It will be this great public place and an indoor-outdoor space, so that outdoor space and the lobby feel like one place.”

A giant video screen on the building exterior could project indoor performances. An exterior plaza could be used for festivals.

Its interior will house a theater of about 3,000 seats, some removable to accommodate smaller audiences and certain events.

Seats will be divided among the orchestra or main level, a grand tier or lower balcony and a balcony.

The sight lines need to allow patrons who watch a symphony concert, a lecture, a Broadway or comedy show “feel like they are close to the stage,” Lynch said.

“Finding ways to make this hall very flexible, that can be transformed in a night or just a few days … will be one of the challenges,” he added.

H3 will collaborate with other theatrical, acoustical, engineering, architectural, construction, cost estimating and landscaping companies — and with designers for LeBauer Park.

“We look forward to getting started,” Lynch said.

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In this series, we will be interviewing different game developers from around Southeast Asia to see how they got into the game industry, what kind of games they make, and what their favorite games are.

Our first subject is Bari Silvestre, CEO and one-man indie development team behind Keybol Games from the Philippines. Bari has achieved indie fame due to the success of his game called “Pretentious Game” on iOS and Google Play. Here is our interview with Bari:

Bari Silvestre, CEO of Keybol Games

Q: How did you get started into games? When did you start Keybol Games?

In 2009, I was trying to earn some money with my blog about Flash game walkthroughs. I decided to create my own games so I can get links to my blog. They were room escape games and it was a good way to learn what players want. One of my games that year, “I Hate This Game” which is similar to the recent hit 100 Doors made the frontpage of Newgrounds (a popular Flash game portal) for 2 weeks with 500,000 plays.

I was so inspired from then on that I decided to learn how to make games in other genres. I made a platformer and it was sponsored by Newgrounds for little money and I was really happy to make something from it. In 2010 I discovered FlashGameLicense (a marketplace for Flash games) where I sold most of my games.

Q: What are the favorite games you played growing up?

In the 1990s I played every Mario, Megaman and Sonic game. I also played Street Fighter and King of Fighters in arcades.

Q: What was the first game that you made, and how did it do in the marketplace?

The first game I made was very crappy. It’s my first time to code and I got it from a tutorial in the web. It is a one screen room escape game that was pretty buggy. My first games have little to no impact during those days as they were really niche.

Q: How did the idea for “Pretentious Game” come about?

It was inspired by a flash game “I Saw Her Standing There”. We, the developers at FlashGameLicense were very surprised at its success and very high score in gaming sites. Somebody said, “What a pretentious game!”

The term stuck in my mind and I thought I could make my own pretentious game. Then came Ludum Dare 23 and I created a minimalist game with squares and “Pretentious Game” was born.

Q: How has Pretentious Game performed since its release? Can you share any download stats for iOS and Google Play?

The game now has 420,000 total downloads in AppStore and PlayStore. But the reception is what I really like. First the web versions were one of the ten showcased in Casual Connect Seattle 2012. Then in 2013, the sequel flew me to San Francisco for Casual Connect again. The highlight was winning Director’s Choice award and getting nominated in Best in Storytelling. I have also traveled to Japan and Amsterdam because of the game.

Making it to international events is huge for someone like me who grew up in a simple family. The game getting reviewed in top gaming sites like RockPaperShotgun, TouchArcade, PocketGamer and many others also means a lot to me. And of course, the player reviews are very positive.

Q: “Pretentious Game” was published on mobile via the French publisher Bulkypix. How did the deal with Bulkypix come about?

Working with Bulkypix is a great experience and I learned a lot. In fact I am working with them again with another game.

Q. What are you working on now?

I am working on Rubpix, a sliding block puzzle game which will be also published by Bulkypix. The game will have Kotaku-featured 4×4 pixel art by David Stoll. It will also be one of three indie games that will be presented in the Game Slam event at Casual Connect Singapore 2014. I am also doing an idle game, World Eater Idle with an artist I found in IGDA Manila.

Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of running a game development studio in Philippines?

Both the game development and gaming community is very supportive and inspiring. I don’t see any disadvantage as of now.


Gabby Dizon himself is a game developer. He has been making games since 2003 and is fascinated about entrepreneurship, especially in Southeast Asia.

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