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Architects face a ‘new normal’ but will recover as business slowly improves

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Architects face a ‘new normal’ but will recover as business slowly improves

| architects, architecture jobs, jobs, recession | May 16, 2011

“Big Tent” event brings together economists, designers in half-day session

Gary H. London

Architects and other designers need to readjust their careers to match the “new normal” in real estate development, according to local economist Gary London.

“The past is not prologue,” London says. “Virtually every understanding we’ve had about the built environment prior to the recession has changed.”

Those include smaller homes, less square footage per employee in offices, the Internets impact on stores and shopping and reduced manufacturing.

London said the upshot of these changes is that architects and others in related fields need to think of their career futures differently “because the environment will be different.”

“The job market will come back for them, but at the same, slow pace that the industry is expected to come back,” he said.

London will make these points at a half-day session sponsored by various architectural and design groups from 8 a.m to noon Saturday at the New School of Architecture and Design, 1249 F St. in downtown San Diego.

Organizers call it a “Big Tent” function, because it includes many design-related organizations and professionals all meeting in one place.

“The industry is 40 percent unemployed,” said architect Jack Carpenter, who is organizing the event. “The new economy is barely getting off the ground, and we know it is going to be different than it was.”

He said architects and others in the construction business will have to get used to working on smaller projects and, in housing, on apartments and town houses, rather than single-family homes.

“One thing we’re going to be talking about is expanding your portfolio,” Carpenter said. “You have to understand the new technology, construction management and other areas people might migrate into.”

Besides London, economist Alan Nevin also is scheduled to make a keynote speech. Panels will follow that include changes in governmental rules and regulation, new approaches to mixed-use development, legal changes affecting developers and financing issues.

Source:  San Diego Union-Tribune

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About the author

After working at various design practices on a full-time and freelance basis, and starting his own design firm, David McFadden saw that there was a gap to be filled in the industry. In 1984, he created an expansive hub for architects and hiring firms to sync up, complete projects, and mutually benefit. That hub was Consulting For Architects Inc., which enabled architects to find meaningful design work, while freeing hiring firms from tedious hiring-firing cycles. This departure from the traditional, more rigid style of employer-employee relations was just what the industry needed - flexibility and adaption to modern work circumstances. David has successfully advised his clients through the trials and tribulations of four recessions – the early 80’s, the early 90’s, the early 2000’s, and the Great Recession of 2007.

2 Responses to "Architects face a ‘new normal’ but will recover as business slowly improves"
  • Jeff Van Fleet May 17, 2011

    I agree that the industry has changed. My firm has traditionally served architects and engineers but when the downturn hit we had to identify new markets for our services. We chose to capitalize on the fact that design and construction make up only 10-15% of the total lifecycle cost of a building. We discovered that there were many opportunities to help owners discover ways to manage the other 85-90% by implementing tools and procedures for improved facility management. I have seen evidence that things are starting to turn and am excited to see what the future holds

  • Tosin Oyeyemi May 18, 2011

    Generally, the scene of the world is changing. The changes, sometimes dramatic, affects not only building industry and built environment – of which architecture is the genesis, but all aspects of human endeavours. Therefore, to hold its place, architecture cannot afford to be reactionary conservative; architects and allied professionals have to be part, in fact, the ‘architect’ of changes management. How then, can we become innovative managers?

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