Recent economic figures from the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) revealed that summer finished on a high note with a significant rise in the demand for design services. The ABI score for the month of August jumped more than a full point from July climbing up to 53.8 from 52.7 (any score above 50 indicates positive growth). AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, sees positive growth for the industry, but remains cautious about the future. “As business conditions at architecture firms have improved eleven out of the past twelve months, it is fair to say that the design professions are in a recovery mode,” Baker said. “This upturn signals an impending turnaround in nonresidential construction activity, but a key component to maintaining this momentum is the ability of businesses to obtain financing for real estate projects, and for a resolution to the federal government budget and debt ceiling impasse.” All three regions except for the South experienced an upswing in billings. Numbers for the West (54.8) rose sharply by more than three points from July. The Midwest also made considerable improvement, jumping from 50.8 the previous month to 52.8 in August. The Northeast (54.4) remained steady, increasing by just a smidgen. The South (51.9), however, didn't fare as well falling by more than two points. All in all, the different sectors came out strong. The numbers for mixed practice indicated strong progress, surging from 56.9 to 60.1 in August. Commercial/Industrial (54.8) and Institutional (50.8) sectors remain in good shape, whereas, multi-family residential dropped down to 52.1 from 53.3 in July. Even as the ABI score shows signs of improvement in the industry, unfortunately, the project inquiries tumbled from 66.4 in July to 63.0 in August.
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Summer isn't slowing the demand for design services, according to the AIA's latest economic figures. In fact, numbers are on the rise. The AIA's Architecture Billings Index (ABI) for July increased more than a full point spike in non-residential construction activity from June's ABI score of 51.6 to 52.7 (any score above 50 indicates positive growth). Most notably, the new projects inquiry index produced positive results with a substantial increase from 62.6 the previous month to 66.7 in July. While numbers lapsed in most regions in July, the Midwest came out strong climbing to 50.8 from 48.3 in June. The Northeast fell more than a point from 55.6 in June to 54.3. The West slipped ever-so-slightly from 51.2 to 51.1. And the South dropped to 54.2. Mixed practice was the only sector to pull through and show significant progress shooting up more than four points to 56.9 in July. The other industry sectors experienced a small decline: commercial / industrial (54.2), multi-family residential (53.3), institutional (50.6). “There continues to be encouraging signs that the design and construction industry continues to improve,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, in a statement. “But we also hear a wide mix of business conditions all over the country, ranging from outstanding and booming to slowly improving to flat. In fact, plenty of architecture firms are reporting very weak business conditions as well, so it is premature to declare the entire sector has entered an expansion phase.” In spite of the industry's promising growth, the same positive trend has not been reflected in the compensation for architecture positions. AIA published its recent compensation survey, revealing minimal change in salaries since the recession in 2008. "Between 2011 and 2013, average total compensation for architecture positions—including base salary, overtime, bonuses, and incentive compensation—increased only slightly over one percent per year, barely more than the average increase in compensation between 2008 and 2011, when the construction sector was still in steep decline," the report read.
The winners of AIA Chicago’s Small Project Awards are on display through August 22 at 23 E. Madison St. “Not everyone needs a skyscraper,” reads the awards program’s tagline. The third annual Small Firm/Small Project Awards recognize quality in small Chicago architectural firms (nine or fewer licensed architects and interns) and small local projects. Projects were honored in four categories: Additions/Remodeling, Kitchens, New Construction, and Small Objects.
Numbers are staying strong. AIA's Architecture Billing Index for the month of June has revealed steady, but positive growth. The June ABI score of 51.6 reflected only a slight drop from May's score of 52.9, and still indicates a general upswing for the non-residential construction industry. More projects will likely be on the horizon. The new projects inquiry index reported a significant climb in numbers to 62.6 from 59.1 the previous month. “With steady demand for design work in all major nonresidential building categories, the construction sector seems to be stabilizing,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, in a statement. “Threats to a sustained recovery include construction costs and labor availability, inability to access financing for real estate projects, and possible adverse effects in the coming months from sequestration and the looming federal debt ceiling debate.” Across the country, the numbers were generally up with the exception of the West, which experienced a slight dip to 51.2 from 52.1 in May. It was, however, a particularly robust month for the Northeast which came out with a score of 55.6. The South also finished strong with an uptick to 54.8 from 50.9 last month in June. And even the Midwest saw progress with a score of 48.3. All sectors remain on solid footing but institutional has slowed down a smidgen: commercial / industrial (54.7), multi-family residential (54.0), mixed practice (52.4), institutional (51.8).
At the AIA’s National Convention in Denver, held from June 19–22, AN’s Emily Hooper sat down with Spanish architect Francisco Mangado, who was in attendance to receive an honorary fellowship. Mangado discussed foreboding amendments to Spain’s law of professional services that would allow engineers, or anyone deemed “competent” in construction, to design and erect buildings across the nation. The law was introduced at a council meeting of Government Ministers in April of 2013, and a final pass-or-fail decision will be reached by the end of this year. Mangado: At the moment, we are very concerned about this. There are important demonstrations in Spain against this amendment because the government wants to change the law and allow engineers to do buildings. Right now, only the architect has the capacity to design and build buildings. But now the government, in a very very wrong way I think, [has proposed this and] there is no correspondence with the kind of training of architects and engineers receive in school, to extend the possibility to design and make architecture. Of course we are complaining, not only for a professional questioning, but for cultural and conceptual consideration. Architecture is not only construction. It has to do with the city, with the values of the citizen, with the public space, with beauty, with historical and symbolic concepts, but engineers don't manage these. In the same way that I'm not prepared to make a bridge, I think the government has to realize engineers aren't prepared to design buildings. Right now we are organizing a lot of complaints. After the summer I think the country’s students of architecture will go out to the streets to demonstrate and defend the profession, even with very violent demonstrations because it’s the only way our government will understand these things. We have a government that’s a disaster. The crisis is terrible but this government is increasing that crisis. So the problem of Spain is not only this government; the former government—of socialism—was another disaster. And the conservatives are just another. So the problem of Spain is our politicians. We have a very intelligent country of people who are well prepared with the capacity to work but we have a cancer—which is called politicians. They don’t accept anything. They don’t understand anything. I studied economic science before studying architecture; I know what it means to make an economy. An economy is a very important political component. Economy doesn’t mean you manage a society as if we were just a number in a computer. It’s much more. What is happening with architecture is just another sign of how wrong they are. But we have confidence in the citizens that we will defend our position. My family created an architecture and society foundation that at the moment is considered the most important architecture institution in Spain. Because the social architectural association went bankrupt from the crisis, our association has assumed the role of organizing conferences, lectures, and defending architecture in this sense against the government. If it’s necessary to be in the street, with protest, with violence, we will be there defending architecture. AN: So, this law is an economic measure. Mangado: Exactly. They are making this because they think they are going to reevaluate the cost for doing architecture. The reasoning is the more people they have doing architecture, the less the fees. But it’s completely wrong. At the moment in Spain, there are 40,000 architects and another 40,000 students of architecture, waiting to become architects. With this enormous amount of architects they already have competition. Architecture is a relationship with society. We are making buildings to serve a society, so architects have to be keen on these kinds of questions. What also happened is the government has made the most of the academic schedule in order to prepare this law because they know that 40,000 students are on vacation and they know if these students were at university now, tomorrow they’d have 40,000 young people on the streets.
The AIA Gold Medal Award is the highest honor an architect can receive from the American Institute of Architects. Until now, the award could only be presented to individual architects, but the AIA has just announced that as of January 1, 2014 this prestigious award will be open to an individual or two individuals who have equally collaborated on the design and execution of one distinguished architectural body of work that makes a lasting statement on the theory and practice of architecture. The revision was prompted by the recent controversial campaign, led by a group of passionate young women architects, to retroactively confer the Pritzker Architecture Prize to Denise Scott Brown. Twenty-two years ago the architect was excluded from the award when it was granted to her husband and equal partner, Robert Venturi, in 1999. The Pritzker jury has refused to revisit it’s decision, denying Denise Scott Brown the award. In reference to the AIA's recent revisions to the criteria for the Gold Medal Award, AIA President, Mickey Jacob said in a press release, “This is an idea that has been percolating for several years and we feel that the decision to make this important and historic change better reflects the changing nature of architectural practice that has become increasingly more collaborative. We took a careful, measured approach to the implications that this decision will have on the award itself and we are confident that this is a positive change for the architecture profession going forward.” In the past the AIA Gold Medal has been bestowed upon world-renowned architects such as Louis Sullivan (1944), Frank Gehry (1999), Steven Holl (2012), and this year, to Thom Mayne. This year's Gold Medalist has been recognized for his outstanding designs for projects such as 41 Cooper Square in New York City, The San Francisco Federal Building, and the Giant Group Campus in Shanghai. So far, however, a woman has yet to receive the distinction.
The San Francisco Facades+ Performance conference is exactly one month away! Join the conversation and rake in up to 8 AIA LU credits per day at the conference, presented by AN and enclos, July 11 to 12, 2013. An abundance of good information, networking opportunities, and hands-on workshops are on the agenda, so don’t miss the chance to attend this year’s invaluable two-day event. The symposium on Day 1 consists of exciting presentations and discussion-based panels that investigate the ever more fast-paced development of facade technology, tackle new-fangled viewpoints on building skins, and discover ground-breaking, sustainable design practices. Ken Yeang of Hamzah & Yeang will present the morning Keynote Address, Eco-Architecture: Living Facades and Architecture and Gary Handel of Handel Architects will give the afternoon Keynote Address, Glass Without Guilt. Dialog and Tech Workshops form Day 2, which offers a rare chance to participate in comprehensive conversations with renowned design professionals in a small seminar-style setting. Participants have the opportunity to customize their specific programs to cater to their individual professional goals and interests by choosing half-day workshops from morning and afternoon sessions. Participants may also select one of six daylong workshops in which they will work closely with industry professionals on hands-on projects to build indispensable skills essential in utilizing revolutionary facade technologies. Speaker highlights include Edward Peck of Thornton Tomasetti, Claire Mazfield of Atelier Ten, and David Frey of SOM among other exceptional panelists. Take a look at the agenda and register today – Early Bird registration ends this Friday, June 14.
This week, AN accompanied members of the American Institute of Architects NY Chapter and AIA New Jersey on a boat tour of the Passaic River to examine the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the city of Newark and to discuss recovery efforts ranging from design solutions for rebuilding to resiliency strategies. Newark, like other parts of the Tri-state area, was hit particularly hard by the super storm and will serve as a point of discussion at the Post-Sandy Regional Working Group's workshop on July 9th with urban planners, developers, stakeholders, and architects from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. This expedition along the Newark waterfront will help inform the larger conversation about resiliency that has been spearheaded by the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter (AIANY) and the AIANY’s Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR), which has culminated into the Post-Sandy Initiative.
As cities across the country struggle to bring new life to aging athenaeums and cash-strapped local libraries, the AIA has honored six outstanding examples of library design in this year’s AIA/ALA Library Building Awards. In the past we have seen a Walmart transformed into a library, a controversial starchitect renovation in New York, and an interactive, LED light-show—now take a look at these honored projects. From democratic design in the nation’s capital to a stunning Beaux-Arts restoration in St. Louis and high-tech solutions in North Carolina, this year's winning projects present a range of answers to the challenges facing our fading repositories. The jury for the biannual award included Jeanne M. Jackson, FAIA, Chair, VCBO Architecture; John R. Dale, FAIA, Harley Ellis Devereaux; Charles Forrest, Emory University Libraries; Kathleen Imhoff, Library Consultant; J. Stuart Pettitt, AIA, Straub Pettitt Yaste and John F. Szabo, Los Angeles Public Library. Anacostia Neighborhood Library Washington, D.C. The Freelon Group From the AIA: The small-scale residential context provided the inspiration for the design of this new branch library, located in a low-income, underserved neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The project not only fulfilled programmatic needs but also provided a stimulus for community pride and economic development. The residential scale is reflected in the library design as a series of pavilions for program areas that require enclosure: the children’s program room, the young adults’ area, support spaces, and public meeting rooms. The remainder of the level one plan is high, open space for the main reading room, stacks, computers, and public seating areas. A large green roof structure provides shelter over all program areas. Central Library Renovation St. Louis Cannon Design From the AIA: Cass Gilbert’s grand Beaux-Arts library, now 100 years old and a St. Louis cultural landmark, was in need of a transformative restoration that would increase public access and modernize it for the 21st century. On the interior, the centrally located Great Hall is surrounded by five wings, four dedicated to public reading rooms and the fifth, the north wing, to a multistory book depository closed to the public. The transformation of the north wing truly rejuvenated the library and brought it into the next century. Old book stacks were removed, and a new “building within a building” was inserted. Now, a multistory public atrium provides an accessible and welcoming entry. The new “floating platforms” surround the atrium without touching existing interior walls. Glass-enclosed upper levels house the collection with compact high-density bookshelves. The windows of the north wall, now clear glass, bounce natural light deep into the interior and provide striking views. New York Public Library, Hamilton Grange Teen Center New York City Rice + Libpka Architects From the AIA: The center, located on the previously empty third-floor space of Harlem’s Hamilton Grange branch library, designed by McKim, Mead and White, is NYPL’s first full-floor space dedicated to teens. In an effort to attract and engage neighborhood youth, the 4,400-square-foot space challenges the norms of library design. The light-filled floor is divided into specific zones that foster small-group interaction and socialization. Visibility is maintained across the entire floor. Two programmatic elements—a 20-foot-diameter Media Vitrine and a bamboo bleacher—occupy the center of the space and work to define the seven zones between and around them. The vitrine’s open-top glass enclosure upends the notion that multimedia spaces must be dark, hyperisolated rooms. The bleacher allows views out to the street from the existing high south-facing windows and provides a sunny hang-out for a range of group sizes. Custom L-shaped lounge benches bracket this space and can be rolled away to allow for other uses and activities. James B. Hunt Library Raleigh, North Carolina Snøhetta and Pear Brinkley Cease + Lee From the AIA: An $11 million reduction in the budget for this library during the schematic design phase prompted the design, construction, and client teams to formulate a range of new ideas to maintain functionality and quality. The building would need to be highly programmed and reasonably versatile as well as comfortable and stimulating to visitors. One innovation was the introduction of an automated book delivery system (ABDS), which effectively reduced the total area of the building by 200,000 gross square feet and allowed more space for collaboration and technology. The ABDS is supported by user-friendly browsing software that matches and even enhances the traditional pleasure of browsing a collection. Oak Forest Neighborhood Library Houston NAAA + AWI + JRA From the AIA: This 7,600-square-foot modern brick and glass structure opened in 1961. Fifty years later, there was still great nostalgia for the library’s mid-century modern design, but the building no longer met the standards of the Houston Public Library system or the needs of the surrounding neighborhood. The 2011 renovations and additions respect the character of the existing library and enhance its accessibility and functionality. The original building’s restored signature green tile mosaic still graces the parking entry area on the north, but now the neighborhood is welcomed by a tree-shaded second entry and outdoor reading room framed by new dedicated adult and teen areas on the west. The original tile mosaic and globe light canopy of the old circulation desk were restored to create a toddler-sized reading nook. Each age group—from toddlers through teens and adults—now has appropriate facilities, furnishings, and technology. A new lobby and circulation space, lit by a continuous shaded clerestory, occupies the seam between old and new and unites the two entries. South Mountain Community Library Phoenix richärd+brauer From the AIA: The building integrates the varied uses of a contemporary public library with the needs of a state-of-the-art central campus library, allowing each to function both independently and collaboratively. The design is modeled after that of an integrated circuit, providing insulation between disparate functions and promoting interaction and connection between like functions and spaces. The simple massing of the building is attenuated to focus views on the surrounding mountains and provide shade and transparency. The site was once home to fertile agricultural valleys and citrus groves, and the building consciously merges interior and exterior spaces to connect to the area’s rich history. A series of rooftop monitors and light shafts flood natural light into the first-level core. The rain screen, formed of bent planks of copper, calls to mind the pattern of an abstracted bar code. Variegated cedar strips reinforce the digital aesthetic of the building. Further echoing the design of a circuit board, building systems are organized and expressed within an internally lit independent distribution soffit.
Underscoring the fragility of the economic recovery, the April AIA's Architecture Billings Index dipped into negative territory for the first time in nine months. The slump to 48.6 was significant, down from 51.9 in March (any score above 50 indicates positive growth). “Project approval delays are having an adverse effect on the design and construction industry, but again and again we are hearing that it is extremely difficult to obtain financing to move forward on real estate projects,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, in a statement. “There are other challenges that have prevented a broader recovery that we will examine in the coming months if this negative trajectory continues. However, given that inquiries for new projects continue to be strong, we’re hopeful that this is just a short-term dip.” Regional indexes reversed recent trends with the South leading at 52.6 followed by the West at 50.7. The Midwest slid into negative billings at 49.4, while the East dragged down the overall average with an index of 48.2. By sector, multi-family residential remained strong at 52.0, while institutional work hovered in positive territory at 50.1. Commercial/industrial (49.2) and mixed-practice (48.6) slumped. The inquiry index, for possible new projects, remained robust at 58.5.
DesignX presenter Skylar Tibbits, the founder of SJET, Director of Self Assembly Lab, and Senior TED Fellow, will host a hands-on lab introducing interior designers and architects to the future of additive manufacturing and programmable matter. Discover how matter programmers design materials to self-assemble when exposed to the elements. Additional topics include 4D printing and how 3D printing technology is changing. Tibbits will utilize self-assembling structures to touch base on what these changes mean for design practices. The workshop takes place on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 from 12:30 to 1:30 PM and offers 1 AIA CEU. Registration is available online.
Interested in learning how to build parametric design models using Grasshopper for Rhino3D? DesignX, in conjunction with the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, is offering a workshop on Monday, May 20, 2013 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM that focuses on fundamental concepts and mechanisms with an emphasis on professional practice. Instructors Ronnie Parsons and Gil Akos will help participants understand pertinent applications of parametric design and will demonstrate how to use Grasshopper in creative practices. Interiors, architects, and anyone seeking to find out what parametric design is and when it is useful can register and attend. The workshop fulfills two AIA CEUs.