Category Archives: International

NAHB Unveils New Map Tool for Endangered Species

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At the NAHB Board of Directors meeting last week, the association unveiled an important new member benefit for builders, developers and others who want to know more about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plans to step up the “listing” process for endangered and threatened plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The interactive species finder map allows members to search by state and county to determine the status of the more than 1,400 species currently protected by the ESA as well as the status of 700 additional species whose listings are now in the planning stages. The NAHB Environmental Issues Committee touts this new member benefit as an “early warning system” for builders who might want to reconsider how to develop a specific property or whether to even purchase it based on its likelihood of being designated as an endangered animal’s critical habitat. State and local home builders associations may also find it helpful to know what listings are in the works for their market areas so that they can begin putting resources together for comment letters and other tools to address proposed listings and habitat designations. Importantly, the new map tool also includes a set of Frequently Asked Questions designed to explain how the ESA works and explain some of the related terminology.

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Today’s house plan photos are those of Archival Designs’ Award Winning Luxury House Plan, Blanchard.
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Study Seeks ‘Right’ Rate of Return for Energy-Efficient Features

A newly published special study on HousingEconomics.com addresses the question of what the appropriate rate of return should be for judging the cost effectiveness of a particular energy-saving feature in a home. While NAHB has a policy that classifies a change in building codes as cost effective if it returns at least 10% in energy savings in the first year, other approaches — for example, those pegged to the current rate on a fixed-rate mortgage — assume a much smaller rate of return will do. NAHB’s economists argue that the common practice of using the current mortgage rate to discount energy savings is unrealistic, fails to account for buyers’ borrowing constraints and doesn’t reflect the way that consumers actually evaluate alternatives when deciding on which features to include in a new house. The article presents evidence from three different sources about rates of return that more realistically reflect household decision alternatives, all of which are in the same neighborhood as (though slightly higher than) the 10% return in NAHB’s current policy. Meanwhile, it argues that the current mortgage rate of 4% is far too low of a benchmark against which to compare utility savings because doing so will result in some features being classified as cost-effective that are clearly priced higher than the market will bear. While NAHB surveys have shown that most home buyers do care about energy efficiency and are very interested in features of the home that can lower utility bills, home buyers on average say they need to save 14% of the upfront cost per year to make an investment in energy efficiency. This aligns with survey responses indicating that consumers are willing to pay about $7,100 up front to save $1,000 annually in utility costs. The study therefore concludes that the right rate of return to use when trying to judge the cost effectiveness of a particular energy-saving feature needs to be in the 11% and higher range if it is to accurately reflect housing market behavior — very near to what is dictated by NAHB’s policy on Cost-Effective and Affordable Energy Codes and Standards.

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NAHB Mourns the Passing of Senior Life Director Dan Coleman
NAHB’s leadership was sorry to learn just before our Spring Board of Directors Meeting of the passing of Senior Life Director Dan Coleman, from Victoria, Texas. Dan earned Builder of the Year honors from the Builders Association of Victoria in 1970, and the following year served as that BA’s president. He was a managing partner of Coleman Roth Homes for a number of years before becoming a manager at Zarsky Lumber and eventually rising to the post of president and CEO of that company, where his father had worked before him. Dan was also president of the Lumbermen’s Association of Texas in 1979 and was named Lumberman of the Year for the state of Texas in 1984. He served his country as a member of the Air Force during the Korean Conflict, and was a frequent traveler who over his lifetime managed to visit all 50 U.S. states as well as places on at least four other continents. Dan passed away on May 25, at the age of 82. Our thoughts are with his wife, daughter and grandchildren at this difficult time.

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Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 to 14,814 sf, and Newport classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 sf.  Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs offered.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one could be just for you!

Diving Into Balcony Pools

The 24-story high indoor pool on Geekologie , is not the only hotel in this gravity-defying trend. These “hanging” pools allow swimmers to soak in the world around them, and they’re particularly handy for architects that want to provide swim-friendly amenities for clients short on space — especially in big cities. Take a dip in the Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong Kangqiao’s swimming pool past the break , and see other amazing, floating pools that require an adventurous spirit. pool1.jpg

Sky-high, glass-bottomed pool

The Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong Kangqiao’s indoor swimming pool is perched atop the 24-story building. While that itself is not so unusual for a big city natatorium, the part of the pool that protrudes from the building and suspends swimmers in mid-air, is. Singapore firm Chan Sau Yan Associates constructed the glass-bottomed pool, which allows swimmers and pedestrians to gaze at each other. The view is incredible — if you don’t have a fear of heights.

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Residential, cantilevered pool

This Spanish residence is made entirely of precast beams — it’s cantilevered lap pool that rests on top of the house, included. The elongated swimming pool was inspired by a Hemeroscopium, which defies physical limits. As the designers explain it:

“For the Greek, Hemeroscopium is the place where the sun sets. An allusion to a place that exists only in our mind, in our senses, that is ever-changing and mutable, but is nonetheless real. It is delimited by the references of the horizon, by the physical limits, defined by light, and it happens in time.”

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Floating balcony pool

Mumbai’s twin residential towers, dubbed the Aquaria Grande, isn’t building its balconies so people can feel the wind through their hair on a warm summer night. The 37-story building will feature the outdoor patios so residents can practice their backstroke. The planned complex is currently undergoing construction, which includes these amazing, three-sided balcony pools.

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Curvy, transparent pool

The InterContinental Dubai Festival City is home to a curvy, transparent pool that extends beyond the edge of the hotel, overlooking Dubai’s skyline — full of incredible, contemporary architecture. If you want to feel like a vacationing Spider-Man, this is definitely where you should book a room.

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Rooftop, saltwater pool

Melbourne’s Adelphi hotel provides guests with a 9-story, 25-meter, heated, saltwater pool that allows swimmers to peer down at the street through the clear Perspex floor. It juts over Flinders Lane in the Australian city’s central business district.

Suspended, urban pool

The Hilton Hotel in Auckland, New Zealand has a pool that is dramatically suspended between two buildings. The heated, outdoor lap pool features an underwater viewing point for adventurous swimmers and spectators. It’s a lovely, aqua oasis in the midst of the city’s concrete jungle.

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Hanging infinity pool

These stunning Indonesian infinity pools are located at the Ubud Hanging Gardens resort in Bali. The large-scale, multilevel, curvaceous pools mirror the surrounding hills, making it a peaceful, tropical retreat. Guests even have a scenic view of the ancient Pura Penataran Dalem Segara temple. There are 38 private pools in total, each one accessed via an aerial ropeway. It sounds a little frightening, but the panoramic, nature-filled view seems totally worth it.

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Breezy, cantilevered pool

They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and this Dallas pool at the Joule Hotel is no different. It extends eight feet over the side of the building, on the tenth floor. A Plexiglas wall provides a killer view of the city. The hotel describes it as “breezy sophistication,” although we know a few fraidy cats who might disagree.

 

Suspended diving pool

Having a green roof wasn’t enough for these homeowners. They took swimming to the next level by adding a cantilevered pool with a walk-the-plank-style diving board. If you’re a wobbly sort, we suggest living vicariously through these daredevil occupants instead by looking at the nifty picture.

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Sky pool

DCPP Arquitectos designed the Sky Condo for a developer who hasn’t started constructing yet, but their plans for the 20-floor tower in Lima immediately caught our attention. The Mexico City-based firm wanted to create transparency between the interior and exterior, so an entire facade of the building is see-through. “We believe that an apartment shouldn’t lack exterior spaces; this is why our main space in each apartment is the exterior public area which contains the pool and a series of terraces that bring dynamism to the whole tower,” the architects indicate on their website.

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Death-defying pool

The Devil’s Pool in Victoria Falls — between Zambia and Zimbabwe — was created the old fashioned way: by Mother Nature. Hundreds of feet above the Zambezi River, this terrifying, naturally formed swimming pool creates a cringeworthy illusion. Swimmers appear as though they’ll be carried over the edge of the cliff by the current, but there’s a trick to the madness. Mirror writer Clive Andrews explained it in his 2003 account:

“I’m perched precariously on a slippery rock jutting out of the Zambezi. Just a few feet in front of me the mighty river cascades over the Victoria Falls, plunging 100 metres into the gorge below.

No matter how many times my guide, Vincent, insists that it’s safe to dive in, I just can’t see what’s going to stop me being swept over the edge and pureed on the jagged rocks at the bottom.

But it’s taken me nearly an hour of stumbling over boulders in temperatures of more than 40oC to get to Devil’s Pool and I’m not going to give in. So I grit my teeth and take the plunge — after Vincent jumps in first, of course.

The current takes hold immediately, carrying me towards the edge. But, before I can be dragged to a watery grave, I’m stopped by a natural rock wall just beneath the surface. As well as saving my life it allows me to peer over the edge and down into a deafening explosion of rainbow-coloured spray. A truly incredible sight.”

Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.   Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 14,814 sf.  Our Newport classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 sf.  Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs offered.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one could be just for you!

Mardi Gras Around the World!

“Mardi Gras” (pron.:/ˈmɑrdiɡrɑː/), “Mardi Gras season”, and “Carnival season”, in English, refer to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday. The day is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday, from the word shrive, meaning “confess.” Related popular practices are associated with celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent.

Traditions

Popular practices include wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades, etc. Similar expressions to Mardi Gras appear in other European languages sharing the Christian tradition, as it is associated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins.

In many areas, the term “Mardi Gras” has come to mean the whole period of activity related to the celebratory events, beyond just the single day. In some US cities, it is now called “Mardi Gras Day” or “Fat Tuesday”. The festival season varies from city to city, as some traditions consider Mardi Gras the entire period between Epiphany or Twelfth Night and Ash Wednesday. Others treat the final three-day period before Ash Wednesday as the Mardi Gras. In Mobile, Alabama, Mardi Gras-associated social events begin in November, followed by mystic society balls on Thanksgiving, then New Year’s Eve, followed by parades and balls in January and February, celebrating up to midnight before Ash Wednesday. In earlier times parades were held on New Year’s Day.  Other cities famous for Mardi Gras celebrations include Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Barranquilla, Colombia; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; Quebec City, Canada; Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico; and New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.

Carnival is an important celebration in Anglican and Catholic European nations. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the week before Ash Wednesday is called “shrovetide”, ending on Shrove Tuesday. It has its popular celebratory aspects as well. Pancakes are a traditional food. Pancakes and related fried breads or pastries made with sugar, fat and eggs are also traditionally consumed at this time in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mardi Gras in Dakar, Senegal

Mardi Gras in Marseille, France

Mardi Gras in Binche, Belgium

Belgium

In the Belgian city of Binche the Mardi Gras festival is the most important day of the year and the summit of the Carnival of Binche. Around 1000 Gilles dance throughout the city from morning until past dusk, whilst traditional carnival songs play. In 2003, the “Carnival of Binche” was proclaimed one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Brazil

Carnaval is the most famous Brazilian holiday. During this time period Brazil attracts 70% of its tourists. Variations in carnaval celebrations are observed throughout the multitude of Brazilian cities. Yet, a commonality observed among them is the incorporation of samba into the celebrations. The southeastern cities of Brazil have massive parades that take place in large sambadromes. The largest carnaval celebration in Brazil and the world occurs in Rio de Janeiro, where two million people are found celebrating in the city. The city of Salvador also holds a large carnaval celebration.

Germany

The celebration of Mardi Gras in Germany is called Karneval, Fastnacht, or Fasching. Fastnacht means “Eve of the Beginning of the Fast”, and is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday.

The most famous parades are held in Cologne, Mainz, and Düsseldorf on the Monday before Ash Wednesday, called Rosenmontag.

Italy

In Italy Mardi Gras is called Martedí Grasso (Fat Tuesday). It’s the main day of Carnival along with the Thursday before, called Giovedí Grasso (Fat Thursday), which ratifies the start of the celebrations. The most famous Carnivals in Italy are in Venice and in Viareggio. Italy is the birthplace of Carnival celebrations, having its origins in the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia. The Italian version of the festival is spelled Carnevale.

Netherlands

The Netherlands also has a festival similar to Mardi Gras. It’s called Carnaval and is similar to the Venice Carnival. The origin of the word Carnaval is ‘Carne Vale’ which means Goodbye to the meat in Latin. It marks the beginning of the sacred period that leads to Easter.

The real festival is held in the southern part of the Netherlands in the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg, and in eastern parts of Twente and Groningen.

Sweden

In Sweden the celebration is called Fettisdagen. It comes from the word “fett” (fat) and “tisdag” (Tuesday). Originally, this was the only day one should eat semlor. These are now sold in most grocery stores and bakeries preceding the holiday, and up until Easter.

United States

Mardi Gras 2010 celebrants in the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the traditional colors of purple, green, and gold. While not observed nationally throughout the United States, a number of traditionally ethnic French cities and regions in the country have notable celebrations. Mardi Gras arrived in North America as a French Catholic tradition with the Le Moyne brothers, Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, in the late 17th century, when King Louis XIV sent the pair to defend France’s claim on the territory of Louisiane, which included what are now the U.S. states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

The expedition, led by Iberville, entered the mouth of the Mississippi River on the evening of March 2, 1699, Lundi Gras. They did not yet know it was the river explored and claimed for France by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1683. The party proceeded upstream to a place on the west bank about 60 miles downriver from where New Orleans is today, and made camp. This was on March 3, 1699, Mardi Gras, so in honor of this holiday, Iberville named the spot Point du Mardi Gras (French: “Mardi Gras Point”) and called the nearby tributary Bayou Mardi Gras. Bienville went on to found the settlement of Mobile, Alabama in 1702 as the first capital of French Louisiana. In 1703 French settlers in Mobile established the first organized Mardi Gras celebration tradition in what was to become the United States. The first informal mystic society, or krewe, was formed in Mobile in 1711, the Boeuf Gras Society. By 1720, Biloxi had been made capital of Louisiana. The French Mardi Gras customs had accompanied the colonists who settled there.

Knights of Revelry parade down Royal Street in Mobile during the 2010 Mardi Gras season.

In 1723, the capital of Louisiana was moved to New Orleans, founded in 1718. Mobile’s Cowbellion de Rakin Society was the first formally organized and masked mystic society in the United States to celebrate with a parade in 1830. The idea of mystic societies was exported to New Orleans in 1856 when six businessmen, three who were formerly of Mobile, gathered at a club room in New Orlean’s French Quarter to organize a secret society, inspired by the Cowbellion de Rakin Society, that would observe Mardi Gras with a formal parade. They founded New Orleans’ first and oldest krewe, the Mistick Krewe of Comus. The tradition in New Orleans expanded to the point that it became synonymous with the city in popular perception, and embraced by residents of New Orleans beyond those of French or Catholic heritage. Mardi Gras celebrations are part of the basis of the slogan, Laissez les bons temps rouler, (Let the good times roll) and the nickname “Big Easy”. Other cities along the Gulf Coast with early French colonial heritage, from Pensacola, Florida to Lafayette, Louisiana, have active Mardi Gras celebrations. In the rural Acadiana area, many Cajuns celebrate with the Courir de Mardi Gras, a tradition that dates to medieval celebrations in France.

In the last decade of the 20th century, the rise in producing commercial videotapes catering to voyeurs helped encourage a tradition of women baring breasts in exchange for beads and trinkets.

Today’s home design photos of those of Archival DesignsCharleston House Plan.

Choose from more than 400 house plan designs that we offer in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 14,814 sf.  Our Newport classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 sf. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer.  Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one could be just for you!

The Art & Worth of the Residence | Another Dimension of Passion Investing?

In Alain de Bouton’s exceptional book, The Architecture Of Happiness, he argues that the idea of home relates to our own prized internal song. The concept of home, or residence, can be anywhere, but it must serve as a refuge “to shore up our states of mind,” and we need rooms “to align us to desirable versions of ourselves, and keep alive the evanescent sides of us.”

If this is indeed the case, the concept of residence has grown into a full-blown Wagnerian-like opera from a prized internal song. In a recent (August 31, 2012) article entitled, “Overpriced Real Estate? Well, Maybe It’s Art” James B. Stewart discusses the surge in New York real estate pricing where high-end luxury condos, apartments and wholly owned residences have been listed and often sold for multiple millions, the justification being that historically or artistically significant real estate could realistically be considered art.

Mr. Stewart provides both sides of this idea, as many high-end brokers think this is nonsense—they believe real estate is real estate—yet others believe, due to the unusual singularity of a residence often created by great architects and interior designers, that a property could indeed be considered art.

Adding fuel to this emergent UHNW trend are observations and facts quoted by Sophie Doran, in Luxury Society (September 3, 2012). In her well-documented article called, “Luxury Real Estate Prices Reach All Time Heights,” she writes, “Back in December 2011, an unfurnished duplex in London’s Bulgari Hotel and Residences was purchased privately for approximately £100 million, as a second penthouse unit in the development was listed at £69 million pounds.”

“More recently, records have been set in Hong Kong—where an apartment fetched $61 million—and Miami, where an island property overlooking the azure waters of Biscayne Bay sold for $47 million. In New York, a Manhattan penthouse was listed in late July with an asking price $100 million, following a slew of record-breaking trophy apartment sales in the city.” Ms. Doran continues to discuss the many extremely high-end residence sales in London, Dubai, and Hong Kong.

Choose from more than 400 house designs and house plans. We offer house designs in a wide range of styles and sizes.  Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English Manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and colonial house plans.  Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 13,600 sf. Our Newport Classic house designs range from 1500 to 5000 square feet. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world.  Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer. Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one plan could be just for you!

India Celebrates the Arrival of Spring in Living Color

“A day filled with luster and gaiety, a day to smear our dreams with a splash of vibrant, frenzied colors. Holi Hai! A spring of unbounded fun and frolic!” — from the poem, “Happy Holi”

Hallelujah! It’s finally spring — time to ditch those dark, drab winter woolens and break out the Crayola-bright spring wardrobe.

And in India and Nepal, it’s also time to smear friends and neighbors with color — until they look as bright and festive as the season itself.

The Hindu faith has many quiet, solemn rites and rituals. But Holi, the spring Festival of Colors, is anything but. Celebrated at the end of winter, on the last full moon day of the lunar month (usually in March), Holi is about unfettered joy and exuberant frolic.

Holi is a time to revel in the beauty of spring — a time for bonfires, playful pranks, and pelting others with colored powder and water.Standards of polite behavior are relaxed. The rigid structures that separate ages, genders and social castes are loosened. Holi is a time to revel in the beauty of spring — a time for bonfires, playful pranks, and pelting others with colored powder and water.

When Ram Krishnan was a child growing up in India, “Holi was associated with all the silly things — throwing colors at each other, filling water pistols with colors,” he says.

Red was the dominant Holi hue. “You’d see people walking around, powder in hand,” he recalls. “Sometimes you’d ask permission” before throwing powder at those you’d meet. “If you wanted to be gentle, you’d put some on their forehead. If you wanted to be crazy, you’d throw it on their whole body.”

But Holi isn’t just about pranks and red powder, he notes. The holiday also has ancient religious significance in Hinduism.

For some, Holi celebrates the divine love of Lord Krishna and Radna. For others, Holi celebrates Kamedeva, the Hindu god of love.

Lord Krishna and Radha

Krishnan, who has lived in Minnesota for four decades, now appreciates Holi primarily as an agricultural celebration. “To me, it is a harvest festival — the beginning of the harvest season,” he says.

  • Color and Culture

In India, immersion in color goes much deeper than a single tradition or a once-a-year festival. Vibrant hues are part of the culture’s DNA.

“India’s people believe that bright colors are synonymous with life, joy and positive energy,” according to the color and design blog Colour Lovers. “Holi is a day to celebrate these concepts.”

According to Colour Lovers, different regions of India have customized the Holi celebration in their own unique way. In some regions, people give each other boxes of sweets or brightly colored flowers. In others, youngsters pay respect to their elders by sprinkling colors on their feet.

The Holi tradition of smearing people with colors grew out of its supposed medicinal benefits. The spring season, when the weather changes, was believed to cause fever and colds. The colors used to celebrate Holi were originally derived from the blossoms of spring trees and from herbs prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors.

But over the years, the colors of Holi have taken a very different direction. As spring-blossoming trees became scarcer, and the celebration itself became more commercial, the natural colorants came to be replaced by industrial dyes, many containing toxic chemicals that have been linked to asthma, skin diseases, eye irritation and temporary blindness. With Holi colors sold loosely by roadside vendors, it was difficult to know what chemicals were going into those festive powders.

In recent years, several organizations have worked to improve Holi safety, teaching children how to make their own Holi colors using natural resources. Some commercial companies, such as the National Botanical Research Institute, have begun to market herbal dyes, so that celebrants can enjoy Holi’s colorful traditions without health risk.

In the U.S., Indian communities continue to celebrate Holi, Krishnan says, although “it’s mostly a non-religious holiday these days. Typically, it’s a time for fun – for dancing, music, food and fireworks.” Indian children in the U.S. love Holi, just as Krishnan did when he was a child growing up in India. “Young kids don’t know why they’re having fun,” he says. “They just are.”

  • Holi in Pop Culture

You don’t have to visit India in the springtime to get a glimpse of Holi. The colorful celebration has popped up repeatedly in Western pop culture.

Several music videos have borrowed Holi imagery of people throwing colored powder, including Linkin Park’s video for “The Catalyst,” Ke$ha’s “Take It Off,” Scooter’s “Behind the Cow,” and Regina Spektor’s “Fidelity.”

Holi has also made cameos in a handful of American movies and TV shows. The 2007 indie film Outsourced tells the story of an American call-center salesman assigned to go to India to train his replacement. There he discovers that to successfully train the new workers, he must first learn about their culture. The catalyst for his change in attitude: a Holi celebration. Outsourced became a TV series in 2011, and the episode “Todd’s Holi War” marked Holi’s first appearance on American network TV.

The Holi festival was featured as a RoadBlock challenge in the reality show, The Amazing Race, while the cable TV show, Bollywood Homicide, also included an episode that climaxed at a color festival. And TV political talker Keith Olbermann shows clips from Holi festivals on the “Time Marches On” portion of his previous nightly news show, Countdown, on The Current.

Have you got a special holiday that is celebrated where you live? Please tell us about it, upload photos and share your stories on our facebook page.

Choose From More Than 400 House Designs and House Plans We offer house designs in a wide range of styles and sizes. Some of our more popular house designs include European-inspired Georgian and Palladian homes, English Manor house plans, Tuscan-style Italian villas, French chateaux, and Colonial house plans. Our Tuscan-style villas range from 1800 sf to 13,600 sf. Our Newport Classics house designs are gentrified New England-style cottages that range from 1500 to 5000 square feet. Our starter castles, mansions and estate homes are designed in the grand tradition of some of the most impressive homes in the world. Please feel free to search our house designs or browse our photo gallery to get a sense of the many styles and types of house designs we offer. Our plans have been built around the globe, from Canada to Dubai, and one plan could be just for you!

Last but hopefully not least, it’s good to actually see my name associated once again with Archival Designs.  I have been blogging for them for the past year, and today decided it was time to sign my name to the blog.  See you Monday!