Showing posts from category: construction
After Sandy, the lifeguard stations on New York’s beaches were destroyed. But these new versions are built to withstand a storm–and might be a model for how to think about building better for the future.
Garrison Architects has created a plan to introduce net-zero energy, flood-resistant, modular structures along the beaches of Coney Island, Staten Island, and Rockaway Beach
Jim Garrison is a busy man. Just before Christmas, his architecture firm got a call from New York City officials asking if he could design and build nearly 50 lifeguard stations and other beach structures to replace the ones wiped out by Sandy. The one catch: The new units needed to open to the public in five months, on Memorial Day weekend, the symbolic start to summer.
The new structures will be constructed in a factory offsite, and later installed into site-specific support structures and access ramps on the beaches. Relying on quick-to-install modular structures in the future might serve as the foundation for the reconstruction of whole neighborhoods (as opposed to throwaway, temporary trailers).
When Garrison Architects needed shop drawings done so the contractor could begin fabrication, they called Consulting For Architects (CFA) to find them an architect to execute the drawings. “Within 24-hours, we closed the deal with Garrison Architects and a talented CFA Consultant who started this week.” stated CFA owner David McFadden.
Since then, “it’s been a wild ride,” Garrison told me over the phone on Tuesday. After 40 days worth of 16-hour planning sessions, Garrison Architects emerged with a plan to introduce net-zero energy, flood-resistant, modular structures along the beaches of Coney Island, Staten Island, and Rockaway Beach. He says his designs are not only economical and aesthetically interesting– but could help lay new groundwork for the way that cities respond to climate change-related disasters in the future, by relying on quick-to-install modular structures that serve as the foundation for the reconstruction of whole neighborhoods (as opposed to throwaway, temporary trailers).
Better lifeguard stations are nice, but their design could also help lay new groundwork for the way that cities respond to climate change-related disasters in the future
He says the initiative is the first time he can think of that any American city is “confronting the reality of starting to build infrastructure that can deal with these enormous storms and can live beyond them.”
Garrison’s designs for new lifeguard stations, comfort stations, and beach offices include a number of features that make them both flood-resistant and sustainable: they’re elevated above the new FEMA storm surge numbers, and they rely on photovoltaics, solar hot water heating, and skylight ventilators as part of a net-zero energy system. The wood siding was salvaged from boardwalks wiped out by Sandy.
The project also involves relandscaping the beaches, reintroducing dunes in certain places to help protect the shore, and eliminating boardwalks. “The waves basically just roll under [boardwalks] and sometimes take them away with them,” Garrison says.
The new structures will be constructed in a factory offsite, and later installed into site-specific support structures and access ramps on the beaches. According to a briefing by Garrison’s firm, “New York has only a handful of modular buildings, such as low-income trailer housing or modular classrooms, most of which essentially qualify as manufactured boxes on chassis, not unique designs. Our modules are a premier example of cutting edge modular building practices and sustainable design solutions for the future.”
The new buildings are elevated above the new FEMA storm surge numbers, and they rely on photovoltaics, solar hot water heating, and skylight ventilators as part of a net-zero energy system. The wood siding was salvaged from boardwalks wiped out by Sandy
What’s perhaps more impressive than the speed of the design is the way the city’s bureaucracy got out of the way to let the project unfold under tight deadlines. “I’ve never seen anything like it on [the city’s] part,” Garrison says (and he’s been designing buildings in New York for more than three decades).
Garrison hopes that the project serves as a model for disaster rebuilding efforts in the future, when it’s possible that Sandy-strength storms will be the norm. “Next time it hits, can we mobilize [modular design] as disaster housing? And I mean good stuff–not FEMA trailers that make people sick, stuff people can really live in for the long term?” Garrison wonders. “This is a way to build in an era of congestion, ecological challenges, and the need for permanence.”
Credit Zak Stone
Zak Stone is a staff writer at Co.Exist and a co-founder of Tomorrow Magazine.
aia, architect, architects, architecture, architecture critic, architecture jobs, built environment, construction, Consulting For Architects, Design, Engineering, Green Architecture, Green Built Environment, Landscape Architecture, Sculpture
beach offices, Co.Exist, comfort stations, Coney Island Beaches, David McFadden, flood-resistant, Garrion Architects, Hurricane Sandy, lifeguard stations, Modular, modular structures, net-zero energy, new york city, photovoltaics, Rockaway Beaches, Solar, Solor Technology, Staten Island Beaches, sustainable design, Tomorrow Magazine, Zak Stone
The City Council has unanimously approved plans to redevelop the historic Pier 57 at 15th Street and the Hudson River, turning the eyesore into an urban, cultural and retail hub.
The approval clears the way for construction to begin at the pier, which has served as a dock for ocean liners, a former MTA bus depot and a holding pen for rowdy protesters arrested at the 2004 Republican National Convention.
WITHOUT ‘PIER’: An artist’s rendering of Pier 57 after a City Council-approved restoration that will create 425,000 feet of retail space.
Calling it “a major victory for Manhattan’s West Side community,” Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn said the pier will provide “a new, sorely needed source of revenue” for the Hudson River Trust, which oversees the pier.
“Soon they will transform Pier 57 from an unused waterfront space into an innovative hub, a culture of recreation and public market activity, all located within a restored historic structure,” said Quinn, whose district encompasses the pier.
The plan calls for creating roughly 425,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space built from re-purposed shipping containers, designed by Young Woo & Associates — the same firm that designed Dekalb Market in Brooklyn, also built from old shipping containers.
It will be an “incubator for cutting-edge local and international brands and merchants,” the company said.
It will also feature an amphitheater and a marketplace area made from old airplane fuselages and 160-square-foot “incuboxes” — small spaces for local merchants, artists and start-up companies.
There will also be educational components, such as cooking schools, art galleries, photography labs and music-recording studios. The Tribeca Film Festival will use the 100,000 square feet of outdoor space as a permanent venue.
A 141-slip marina and water-taxi landing space will surround the pier. Construction will begin in October, the company said.
The approval comes after years of wrangling by developers and community activists and after a more elaborate design — a $330 million proposal from real-estate developer Douglas Durst — was killed in favor of the less expensive plan offered by Woo’s company.
The now rusted pier was built in 1952 from three concrete slaps floated down the Hudson River.
“Today’s approval brings us one step closer to transforming Pier 57 into a recreational, cultural and retail center that will provide yet another great destination for the Hudson River Park community,” Hudson River Park Trust President and CEO Madelyn Wils.
Via NY Post [email protected]
architect, architects, architecture, architecture critic, architecture jobs, construction, Consulting For Architects, Engineering, Sculpture
architecture, Christine Quinn, City Council, David McFadden, Dekalb Market, design, Douglas Durst, Hudson River Trust, jobs, Madelyn Wils, MTA, Pier 58, recession, Republican National Convention, shipping containers, tribeca film festival, unemployed architects, Woo’s company, Young Woo & Associates
Online job ads for architects up 20% over year
Online job advertisements for architects rose 20 percent during the last 90 days compared to the same time period in 2012, according to Wanted Analytics, a firm that tracks online job ads. There were a total of more than 16,000 architect jobs advertised in the past 90 days.
New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Houston topped the list of metropolitan areas with the most job ads for architects.
“Autodesk AutoCAD” was the most commonly required skill in architect jobs. In the past 90 days, 5,500 jobs required CAD skills, representing about 35 percent of all hiring demand.
The most commonly required skills in architecture jobs include:
Autodesk REVIT Architecture
Oral and written communication skills
Watch a new CCTV America video from the AIA.org website that highlights 7 consecutive months of gains in the industry
Temporary hiring takes center stage
U.S. temporary employment jumped by 20,300 jobs in March, compared with the previous month, and the year-over-year growth rate ticked up, according to seasonally adjusted numbers released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, the number of temp jobs added in February was revised upward by 22,000 jobs.
Year-over-year growth in temp jobs had been decelerating since November. However, the number of temp jobs rose by 6.4 percent year over year in March, up from the 5.3 percent increase in February.
Further, the U.S. temp penetration rate rose to 1.94 percent in March from 1.93 percent in February.
However, the U.S. added fewer jobs overall in March than February. Total non-farm employment rose by 88,000 jobs in March compared with an increase of 218,000 in February – Sending a clear signal that firms are exercising caution, temporary hires outpaced permanent hires for the same period.
The U.S. unemployment rate still fell to 7.6 percent in March from 7.7 percent in February. The college-level unemployment rate, which can serve as a proxy for professional employment, was unchanged from February at 3.8 percent.
In other industries, construction added 18,000 jobs in March. The BLS reported construction has added 169,000 jobs since September.
Click on the chart below to enlarge.
Click on the chart below to enlarge.
This post is a composite of articles from Staffing Industry Analysts and AIA.org websites
aia, architect, architects, architecture, architecture jobs, construction, David McFadden, Hiring trends, recession, starting a business, Uncategorized, unemployed architects
architecture, Architecture billings index, AutoCAD, Autodesk, bentley microstation, BLS, business, construction industry, construction spending, design, Houston, jobs, Los Angeles, New York, recession, Revit Architecture, San Francisco, unemployed architects, Washington D.C.
When it comes to sourcing the right interview candidates, I’ve never been keen to use recruiters. But I recently changed my mind.
My company, Metal Mafia, has an excellent candidate screening process, a super training program, and a very successful team of employees to show for it.
But hiring has always been a difficult task for me because each time I get ready to hire, it takes me forever to find the right type of candidates to even get the screening process started.
Despite the fact that I carefully consider where to advertise for candidates–I try to maximize the search dollars and get a good mix of potential applicants–it always takes me a long time to find people suited well to the company, and therefore, even worth interviewing.
I’ve tried everything from placing ads on large job boards like Monster.com, to smaller specialized job boards that cater to sales hires or fashion jobs, to local university boards where I can post for free (or close to it). Each time, I experience the same slow crawl toward finally finding the right person. It has taken me up to five months to find the right kind of hire in the past. So in November when I decided I needed to think about hiring for the new year, I was not optimistic.
For me, recruiters have traditionally been out of the question because I figured they would be a waste of time and never be as good at sending me the right people for the job as I would be in reviewing resumes myself. They’re also too expensive for my small budget. But as I got ready to place my job ads again, one of my senior staff members came to me and offered me the name of a fashion recruiter she knew and thought could help. I was skeptical, but I called her anyway, figuring listening would cost me nothing.
The recruiter convinced me she would do a thorough job, but I still hesitated because of the price. I do not have large sums of money to devote to the hiring process, and by my calculations, when all was said and done, using the recruiter was going to cost me three times as much as my usual techniques. On the other hand, the recruiter would only charge me if she found someone I decided to hire, which meant I was risking nothing, and could always come back to my original methods. I bit the bullet and signed up, reminding myself “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
The recruiter sent me the resumes of 10 entry-level candidates. I screened six by phone, met three in person, and found the right hire–all in a month. The cost suddenly became much less, because I saved so much time in the process, and because I got a pool of applicants who were decidedly better to choose from than in the past. Even more interesting, perhaps, was an insight the right candidate shared with me during the interview process. When I asked why she had chosen to work with a recruiter rather than post on job boards, she said “because recruiters make sure your resume gets seen, while submitting via the Internet is like sending your resume into oblivion.”
If most people these days are thinking like my new hire, the recruiters will clearly have the best selection of candidates every time. Looks like I’ve got an essential new hiring strategy.
Vanessa Merit Nornberg: In 2004, Vanessa opened Metal Mafia, a wholesale body and costume jewelry company that sells to more than 5,000 specialty shops and retail chains in 23 countries. Metal Mafia was an Inc. 500 company in 2009. @vanessanornberg
architect, architecture, architecture jobs, construction, Consulting For Architects, David McFadden, Design, Freelancer tips, Hiring trends, Interior design, jobs, recession, unemployed architects
aia, architecture, David McFadden, design, jobs, unemployed architects
Community Board 3 voted in favor of a plan to turn seven city-owned acres just south of the Williamsburg Bridge into a 1.7 million-square-foot mixed-use development.
After more than 40 years, the massive Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Project in the Lower East Side moved one important step closer to becoming a reality Tuesday evening when Community Board 3 unanimously voted in favor of the plan.
The project calls for turning five fallow city-owned lots, totaling seven acres and lie just south of Delancey Street near the Williamsburg Bridge, into a 1.65 million-square-foot mixed-use development made up of 40% commercial and 60% residential. The residential portion of the development will be comprised of roughly 900 apartments, half of which will be affordable. All together this would be one of the biggest redevelopment projects in Manhattan on city-owned land in years.
The community board approved the plan under the condition that the affordable housing be permanent instead of just for 30 to 60 years as had been suggested earlier. The city agreed to the stipulation. Affordable housing has been a major stumbling block for the project in the past. Previously, many in the community insisted that 100% of the apartments be affordable. Most now accept that some market rate apartments are needed to make the project financially feasible.
The vote is just the first step in a complex public approval process, known as the Uniform Land-Use Review Procedure, which is expected to be completed in the fall. The City Council and mayor have the final approval. If the project is given the green light, the next step would be for the city to issue a formal request for proposals to find a developer to take on the project.
“Over the course of the last three years, it has been made abundantly clear that the issue of permanent affordability was one of, if not the, highest priority for this community board and Lower East Side residents,” said City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents the area, in a statement.
Aside from affordable housing, the community was also very concerned about remaining actively involved in the Seward Park development.
“Last week, the city agreed to create a task force to ensure that this community remains involved as this process moves forward,” said Ms. Chin. “This unprecedented move by the city will ensure that your voices continue to be heard in the request for proposals process and beyond. In addition to providing oversight and accountability, this task force will work to ensure that affordable housing is built and that is it built first.”
While the issues over affordability and community involvement have been settled for now, new concerns have emerged. Some residents would like to see a school added to the development and others would like to make sure that the retail space will not go to a big-box store.
The plan will now move to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for his review and recommendations.
The pace of purchased new homes fell to a 313,000 annual pace, the slowest since October. Though an analyst says there are signs of life in some regions, “we’re not seeing a broad-based recovery.”
(Bloomberg) – Purchases of new homes in the U.S. unexpectedly fell in February for a second month, a sign the recovery in the housing market may be uneven.
Sales dropped 1.6% to a 313,000 annual pace, the slowest since October, from a 318,000 rate in January that was weaker than previously reported, figures from the Commerce Department showed Friday in Washington. The median estimate of 78 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for 325,000.
Sales of new homes are struggling to gain momentum amid increasing competition from foreclosures, which are hurting all property values. Nonetheless, a pickup in hiring, growing incomes and mortgage rates near a record low are making all houses more affordable, which may help underpin the market.
“There are signs of life in the market in certain regions, but we’re not seeing a broad-based recovery,” said Michelle Meyer, a senior U.S. economist at Bank of America Corp. in New York, who forecast a 310,000 sales pace. “Builders are still competing with existing inventories. The spring selling season should show some modest improvement, but it will be limited.”
Economists’ estimates ranged from 310,000 to 350,000. The rate for January was previously reported at 321,000.
The recent slowdown in demand has pushed up the amount of time it takes to sell a new house. There were 150,000 new houses on the market at the end of February, matching the prior month’s record low. The supply of homes at the current sales rate climbed to 5.8 months’ worth from 5.7 months in January.
Purchases, tabulated when contracts are signed, fell in two of the four U.S. regions, led by a 7.2% drop in the South. Sales fell 2.4% in the Midwest and rose 14% in the Northeast and 8% in the West.
The regional breakdown affected prices as demand fell in the South and Midwest where homes are less expensive and rose in the Northeast and West where they are costlier.
The median sales price increased 6.2% in February from the same month last year to $233,700, Friday’s report showed.
New-home sales have lost their ability to forecast the broader market as demand shifts to previously owned houses. Purchases of existing homes are calculated when a deal closes about a month or two later. New properties made up almost 7% of the market last year, down from a high of 15% during the last decade’s housing boom.
Existing-home purchases eased to a 4.59 million annual rate last month from a 4.63 million pace in January, the National Association of Realtors reported this week. Even with the decline, January and February sales marked the strongest start to a year since 2007.
Home foreclosures remain a concern for builders. Filings fell 8% in February, the smallest year-over-year decrease since October 2010, as lenders began working through a backlog of seized properties, RealtyTrac Inc. said last week.
“February’s numbers point to a gradually rising foreclosure tide,” Brandon Moore, RealtyTrac’s CEO, said in the statement. “That should result in more states posting annual increases in the coming months.”
To hold down borrowing costs like mortgage rates, Federal Reserve policy makers last week said they will continue to swap $400 billion in short-term securities with long-term debt to lengthen the average maturity of the central bank’s holdings, a move dubbed Operation Twist.
The National Association of Realtors’s affordability index climbed to a record high in January, underpinning demand. That may be why builders are gaining confidence.
Builders this year have broken ground on homes at the fastest pace since October to November 2008, according to Commerce Department figures released this week. Permits for construction climbed to the highest level since 2008, the same report showed.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of builder confidence in March held at the highest level since June 2007. Sales expectations climbed for a sixth month, according to the March 19 report.
Ryland Group Inc., which builds homes with an average price of $255,000 in 13 states, said it has a positive outlook for 2012.
“We finished the year on a strong note, entered the year optimistic and still feel fairly optimistic today,” Larry Nicholson, president and CEO at the Westlake Village, Calif.-based company, said March 6 at an investor conference. “The good thing about the traffic we are seeing is it’s new traffic. We feel a lot better than we did a year ago. Hopefully, we can keep this trend up.”
‘Like’ CFA’s Facebook page for job openings for architects and interior designers
Check out CFA Founder/CEO David McFadden’s about.me profile!
architecture, architecture jobs, construction, Hiring trends, jobs, recession, unemployed architects
bank of america corp, business, economy, housing, pace builders, Real Estate, sales pace
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill has recently added a new landmark to the skyline of Kuwait City: the Al Hamra Firdous Tower, now the tallest building in the country, peeks through the clouds with its quarter-mile-high torqued form. Unless record height is achieved, ‘supertall’ skyscrapers rarely sustain attention these days, but SOM’s latest tower has received notice for its unusual appearance. The Al Hamra Firdous Tower is the only skyscraper with an asymmetrical exterior; the structure wraps around like a robe, choosing to conceal or reveal depending on one’s angle of approach.
The Al Hamra Firdous Tower is notably constructed with malleable concrete as opposed to traditional steel. At ground level, curving concrete buttresses interlace to create stunning structural nets that again conjure allusions to fabric. The crisscrossing forms evoke the structural integrity of the Gothic as well as the latticed, exposed steel arms of architecture at the dawn of the industrial revolution.
In SOM’s design, 500,000 tons of concrete weave upwards to form a folded, monolithic tower culminating with a sharply asymmetrical, winged crown. The exterior of the ‘robe’ embraces the shiny, smooth façade of other buildings of its class, but its interior aspires to project a different image. Not only is this partially enclosed facade paved in lusterless concrete, but the windows also appear deeply set and unevenly coffered, casting a pattern of shadows on the matte surface that not only suggest the designs of Middle Eastern textiles but also make the building appear massive.
In doing so, the design refuses to fully conceal its core material and recalls a more vernacular building practice. With an unexpected turn to concrete, the Al Hamra Firdous Tower respects its site and innovates accordingly, creating an impressive building to match its own impressive views.
All images © SOM
architecture, construction, Design, modern architecture, modern buildings, new buildings, skyscraper, som
al hamra, Al Hamra Firdous Tower, Kuwait City, middle eastern textiles
Last spring, developer Related Cos. became disenchanted with the design of the first phase of Hudson Yards, the gargantuan project on top of a train storage yard along the Hudson River.
The original design of Hudson Yards had three straight boxy towers.
“I could tell that Stephen wasn’t in love with it,” recalls Jay Cross, who oversees the project for Related, referring to the developer’s chairman, Stephen Ross. “He felt he wanted the buildings to be more dramatic. And we found that the marketplace was looking for bigger buildings.”
That made for a busy summer for Related and its architect William Pedersen, one of the name partners at the firm Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. The result, which was recently unveiled, is an improvement in terms of the interactions of the buildings if not in the aesthetics of the buildings themselves.
With 26 acres and more than 12 million square feet of potential developable space overtop Hudson Yards competes with the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site as New York’s current, highest-profile development effort. Related has signed a deal with handbag-maker Coach Inc. to move its headquarters into 600,000 square feet in the south tower.
A new rendering shows two jagged towers
Kohn Pedersen’s original first-phase design called for three boxy steel office towers, the shortest one in the middle, along the east side of the site. Each building had the same square-jawed look of consternation: renderings showed stacks of long, plain blocks of steel and concrete arrayed to look like a cubist abstraction, or a screenshot from Tetris, the old block-stacking video-game. In between was to be four stories of retail space centered around a large glass box with a cyclone-shaped structure.
The design wasn’t terrible. But it wasn’t the sort of arresting, statement-making architecture that one would expect a next-big-thing type of project. KPF’s early designs for the buildings were like Buckingham Palace bobbies: standing straight and erect, faces constant, but not saying much of anything at all.
The new plan for phase one, recently unveiled, describes a much different composition. The 30-story middle building is gone. New renderings show two jagged towers—the more northerly one 67 stories and sloping diagonally toward the city, the other, 51 stories and angled towards the Hudson—that slash through the skyline. Connecting the two buildings will be eight stories of retail and trading-floor space.
Hudson Yard’s New look Slideshow
The two office towers are disappointing as stand-alone buildings. Like most modern office towers they are brash and arrogant instead of being noble and poised. Their form is shard-like: all harsh angles with a jaggedness that evokes crystals or canyon rock formations.
But the new design helps make up for this in the way the office buildings interact. The mirror-image slopes of the two buildings, which would regard one another differently from nearly every angle of viewing, give viewers the sensation of two dancers in the midst of a paso doble. The southern building, which would house Coach, is, sensibly, the female of the pair —slightly shorter, with the atrium manifested as a slit in the dancer’s ball gown, giving a glimpse of a flash of leg underneath.
Mr. Pedersen talks frequently of the “responsibility of tall buildings” to interact rationally with the urban context around them. The towers, through their interplay, emphasize the presence of a long, open, park space—set to run east-west from the towers to the river—that will go in between them.
“The buildings have to be able to, by their internal biology, create social connections,” Mr. Pedersen says. “Too many buildings around the world have independent, sculptural shapes. The effect here is to connect the building directly to the city.”
This intent is certainly palpable in the design. And if Related eventually ends up landing another signature tenant for the north tower, the plan will be realized, and the two buildings will go ahead and dance their way around the fabric of the city’s newest cluster of statement-making skyscrapers.
architect, architects, architecture, architecture jobs, buildings, construction, Design, Hiring trends, jobs, modern architecture, modern buildings, new buildings, recession, unemployed architects
KPF, Related Companies, William Pedersen
October ABI up 2.5 pts to 49.4
* New projects index up 3 pts to 57.3
* AIA says demand for architects’ services volatile
* New projects index up 3 pts to 57.3
* AIA says demand for architects’ services volatile
A leading indicator of U.S. construction activity rebounded in October, the AIA said on Wednesday.
The architecture billings index rose 2.5 points last month to 49.4, according the American Institute of Architects. Any reading below 50 indicates an overall decrease in demand for design services, a predictor of construction spending nine to 12 months in the future.
A separate index of inquiries for future projects rose 3 points to 57.3. That measure is more often above 50 as clients reach out to multiple architecture firms.
October’s rebound was encouraging, but demand for designs remains volatile, the group said. Conditions in various regions range from improving to poor and are likely to continue that way in coming months, the AIA said.
Conditions are strongest in the U.S. Northeast and weakest in the West.
A depressed construction market has been a headwind for manufacturers of construction machinery and components that make up buildings’ infrastructure, such as electrical, cooling and security systems.
Analysts who cover industrial stocks have called the billings index as important an economic indicator as the monthly industrial data from the Institute for Supply Management.
Most diversified industrial companies get at least some revenue from the nonresidential construction sector, which includes office buildings, retail and warehouse space, and institutional buildings such as schools and hospitals.
Companies exposed to the sector include Honeywell International Inc , Tyco International Ltd , Ingersoll Rand , Eaton Corp , Caterpillar Inc , Deere & Co and Terex Corp .
European companies such as Siemens AG , Schneider Electric SA and lock maker Assa Abloy are also significant players in the sector.
Scan with your Smartphone to “Like” CFA on Facebook!
aia, architects, architecture, architecture jobs, construction, Hiring trends, jobs, recession, starting a business, Uncategorized, unemployed architects
AIA Billing Index
Architects, along with land planners and civil engineers, are involved in the beginning stages of a project, so they are among the first to feel a recession — and a recovery.
It’s too early to say whether a recovery is at hand. But the downward spiral could be over, some industry experts say.
“It seems we are pulling out of it,” Farmer said. “We’re seeing increasing revenues, and we’re starting to see a little bit of profit.”
What’s more, the American Institute of Architects, after seeing five consecutive monthly declines in activity, reported a sudden upturn of activity in August in its billings index.
The index provides a nine- to 12-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending, or a glimpse into the future of commercial construction activity.
“Based on the poor economic conditions over the last several months, this turnaround in demand for design services is a surprise,” said Kermit Baker, chief economist of the architects’ trade organization.
“Many firms are still struggling, and continue to report that clients are having difficulty getting financing for viable projects, but it’s possible we’ve reached the bottom of the down cycle.”
The index is centered on 50, with scores above 50 indicating an aggregate increase in billings and scores below indicating a decline.
In July, the index score was 45.1, the steepest decline in bbillings since February 2010, the trade organization reported. But the index reversed in August, shooting up to 51.4 percent.
Despite the recent upturn, “the extent of the (previous) decline was pretty serious,” Baker said, attributing the low index numbers to nervousness about the U.S. and global economies.
Architectural billings were improving at the end of 2010, showing stability and modest growth in the beginning of 2011, Baker said.
“There was a general sense the economy was improving and then … (the numbers) dropped off the end of the table and turned dramatically.”
Many projects are still on hold, Baker said. “Others are moving slowly and in fits and starts.”
Source: Richmond Times Dispatch