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

About the author

Drawing upon original ideas and extensive personal and professional experience in the field, David McFadden crafted this article to explore the untapped potential of making historic architectural masterpieces more sustainable. After working at various design practices—both full-time and freelance—and launching his design firm, David identified a significant gap in the industry. In 1984, he founded Consulting For Architects Inc. Careers, an expansive hub designed to align architects with hiring firms for mutual benefit. This platform enables architects to find impactful design work and frees hiring firms from the time-consuming cycles of recruitment and layoffs. David’s innovative approach to employer-employee relations has brought much-needed flexibility and adaptation to the industry. As the Founder and CEO, David has successfully guided his clients and staff through the challenges of four recessions—the early ’80s, early ’90s, early 2000s, the Great Recession, the pandemic, and the current slowdown due to inflation and high-interest rates.

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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