KB Home execs Jacob Atalla and Dan Bridleman, creators of KB Home ProjeKt. Photo credit: Steve Spatafore
KB Home execs Jacob Atalla and Dan Bridleman, creators of KB Home ProjeKt. Photo credit: Steve Spatafore

It started, like so many of the best things we experience in life, as a couple of folks sharing ideas and a handshake.

KB Home and BUILDER then engaged in a discovery process in June 2017 that evolved from a conversation about what a "healthy home of the future" might look like and behave into that home itself, the KB Home ProjeKt, on display 18 months later at Inspirada, in Henderson, Nev.

The initiative claimed a disproportionate amount of time and bandwidth from a team at KB, and a number of partners, including architects KTGY, landscape architects Anderson Baron, and a number of key sponsors.

If a value were to have been assigned to the energies, the practical hours, and the relentless pursuit of new solutions for this home, and what could be learned from it, the real price of that home, at 3131 Biancavilla Ave, Henderson, Nev., would range somewhere in the multiple millions of dollars.

Whether ProjeKt's development occurred by freak of accident during the particular time-period it did, or not, its completion defined a new moment for home builders, separating decades of past design and functionality features in new homes with a bright line into a future where a home plays a more active role in the health and well-being of its residents.

The KB Home ProjeKt, in its intent and in its ultimate real-world construction, proved an important--potentially existential--point, not only for KB, but for all of its manufacturing, construction, design, engineering, and associated partners, and for residential construction itself. There's no going backwards on the healthy home. The days when that notion was some sort of futuristic leap of the imagination, have come and gone now.

The project serves to crystallize a moment that changes home builders' value proposition forevermore. Here's why.

KB Home vp sustainability Jacob Atalla leads a "learning lab" presentation at KB Home ProjeKt. Photo by Steve Spatafore
KB Home vp sustainability Jacob Atalla leads a "learning lab" presentation at KB Home ProjeKt. Photo by Steve Spatafore
  1. This KB Home ProjeKt investment in beginning to discover what home buyers want regarding how their homes actively engage in their health, is at the same time an investment in understanding what all of us need on that scale. Homes--all homes--will need to be a bigger, more active, more engaged part of people's way of self-serving their health and well-being. This project draws a line in the sand on that, and there's no going back. What starts out as an opportunity-area to move into fast quickly becomes a risk-area for being slow to the draw. That process has now begun.
  2. Secondly, this fundamentally, and profoundly changes what we mean by building science. Building science, to date, has largely focused on issues of structural and systematic durability, function, aesthetic features, and resilience, given sudden or long-term changes in backdrop. Now, building science has an added, non-negotiable job: to marry environmental data and sensitivities to the bio data and human sensitivities of those living in the home. This means, to a large extent, builders and their partners are entering into a new service-centric era of their business model development.
  3. Thirdly, to bend the cost curve that will migrate this new ability--to make homes play a more active role in their residents' health and well-being scenarios--new operational and construction models and processes go without saying. Unless there's a profound and fundamental pivot toward prefabricated, fully-integrated offsite engineering, procurement, architecture, personalization, and production, home builders will find themselves out of the game of making healthy homes attainable to their spectrum of buyers at many price points.
  4. Fourth, and finally, an ecosystem--the members, scope, and extent of which we're only beginning to grasp--is the only way transformations so profound, i.e. the change from homes as a "safe haven" to prosper, to homes as an actively engaged, seamless partner in our health, can happen. Traditional building know-how, basic architecture, classic engineering now weave inescapably with microprocessor and sensor development, software programming, medical and biological knowledge, information modeling, and, in everything, user experience design and engineering. Structure and systems--separate though they may be, are becoming increasinly entangled, just like hardware and software in the rest of the world. Further, innovation can not ultimately live, survive, or exert its impact if it occurs in isolation. The ecosystem--and having agency and efficacy in it-- is essential for home builders to stay in the game.

We believe home builders will be part of the game.

So, we celebrate the KB Home team, its leadership from the firm's corporate headquarters in Los Angeles, to its regional offices in Las Vegas, and BUILDER's other partners in the ProjeKt. We did something few other residential construction initiatives set out to accomplish in the past 18 or more months, and stepped on to an altogether new learning curve that has us trying to figure out the difference and kinship between wellness and well-being at home.

Here's the gist of some words I shared with the team and guests the day we unveiled ProjeKt to builders a little over three weeks ago in Las Vegas:

For me, for you, for us, this is a moment of passion.

In the 1500s, Queen Elizabeth I, was quoted as saying, “i bathe once a month, even when i dont need to.” Thank you for that, your royal highness. Now, we’ve learned the No. 1 most important factor in a person’s health is his or her home. Our own research at BUILDER for this project bears out just how much we value home functionality and systems in our health, wellness, and well-being.

I know the terms "wellness" and "well-being" tend to be used interchangeably. I’ll admit it, though, i quibble over exact meanings. My dad, who, were he with us, would have been 94 today (born Feb. 18, 1925), was a doctor. As a surgeon, and in a long post-clinical career, his entire life’s work was the wellness of others.

My mom, on the other hand, was a nurse and—for seven kids, my sister and five brothers—a teacher. Her focus, with passion equal to my dad’s was on well-being, and precision. “I’m curious,” she would say if she heard the words wellness or well-being misused in a sentence. “I wonder if you can find out the difference, so that i will know next time.”

So, I'd look them up. Wellness is a status, of being healthy. Well-being is a state of mind, of feeling peace of mind, wholeness, prosperity, and soundness. One is a physical condition, the other is a mental, emotional, spiritual experience. Each, though, ties directly to health. Body and mind connect. I owe my parents a debt of gratitude today for why I'm here, what my own passions are, and how they tie to health, wellness, well being, homes, and learning.

And we may each owe thanks to our parents, to their parents, and the millennia of ancestors who first—maybe a half a million years ago—began efforts to solve this issue. They started creating structures, with primitive technologies, for safety, health, and better odds of prospering, first by preventing some sort of premature demise.

Beginning that long ago, human, cognitive, souls started the progression. Homes. Safe homes. Sustainable homes. Smart homes. Healthy homes. And all of he above.

And we here, each and everyone of us owes a heartfelt thank-you to the leadership at KB Home, Dan Bridleman and Jacob Atalla, and KB’s Las Vegas division, led by Brian Kunec, for putting a stake in the ground. They brought together literally hundreds of trusted, courageous partners, who moonlighted for 18 solid months, committing to do something that had never been done before. They invested the resources and set ProjeKt in motion to explore uncharted bounds of wellness and well-being in our homes. Homes, that is, for all of us. Not just wealthy buyers, but normal, everyday new-home buyers.

Wonder why i call this a moment of passion, for all of us here?

We stand today on the backs of many who came before us in this journey to blend technology, structure, systems, and passion in ways that value ourselves, our communities, and our planet. And, although we may be a half million years along in the journey—and despite this shining Valentine of a home before us, that shows how far we may have come to #wheretomorrowlives, theres still so much to learn.

Yet you, and the team at KB, and the teams of all the partners continue to invest, trust one another—although outcomes are not clear at the start—and climb up the learning curve. And why?

For our children, your children, their children. Others, who may look back one day, many years from now, at these innovations, and recognize they had to happen. For well-being. For wellness. And for the reason we so often choose to do what we do. Love. This day, this valentine of a home, and this big transfer of ideas and knowledge makes this your moment of passion.

KB Home Regional President Brian Kunec and SVP chief technology officer Dan Bridleman. Photo by Steve Spatafore
KB Home Regional President Brian Kunec and SVP chief technology officer Dan Bridleman. Photo by Steve Spatafore

In the countdown to our unveiling ceremony on Feb. 18, I got to talk with Dan Bridleman about the endeavor he and Jacob brought to BUILDER in June of 2017. He reminded me of a line, a line of music, and a lyric that may have been one of the very last songs recorded collectively by The Beatles, on Abbey Road, on July 23, 1969. The End.

"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

A good reminder for us all! Thank you, Team KB Home ProjeKT!