It looks like design projects may be slowing

This economy sure is hard to figure out. Construction jobs numbers (trailing indicator) keep increasing. But I am also hearing about layoffs at architectural firms, especially those focused on commercial office projects for the tech sector. Private sector projects appear to be pausing, while public projects are moving forward — a typical recessionary setup. And, of course, the bears are predicting a recession while the bulls are predicting only a 10% to 20% risk of recession.

That doesn’t leave us with much to go on. The safe bet is to assume a recession is coming and you may be laid off. Make sure you update your resume and collect work samples in case you are suddenly disconnected from the company server. It is also worth catching up with your industry contacts so that you are top-of-mind if the worst comes to pass.

Firm owners and managers are undoubtedly frantically chasing work to build up the backlog of projects in case something goes on hold. They are also reviewing their staffing plan and analyzing who fits into project teams for the type of work that is moving forward. Be sure to take a critical look at where you stand in your firm so that you aren’t surprised.

If you are still happily employed, take a moment to be thankful for what you have and see where you can offer moral support to a colleague who is less fortunate.

Sorry to be so negative. Things have been so busy the past few years (aside from 2020) that we may have let our guard down. Architecture is cyclical so we always need to be prepared.

Stay strong.


Construction Costs Continue to Rise

Supply chain delays are reducing (although I saw a report that large air handling equipment has lead times of up to or over a year) and cost increases are not as steep as in previous months.

Labor shortages continue to plague the industry and will likely continue to be an issue long into the future.

Turner’s Cost Index showed a 1.19% increase in Q2 of 2023.

RLB’s Cost Construction Report indicated a 1.56% increase in Q2 of 2023.

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Massachusetts Rolls Out Sustainability Initiatives

The Architect’s Newspaper reported on a number of initiatives rolled out by the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that will make it harder to build all-glass buildings. Similar initiatives will continue to spread across the country, which will undoubtedly have an impact on the modern aesthetic.

Fossil fuel bans, a green bank, and energy codes prohibiting all-glass buildings are coming to Massachusetts

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US and EU Eliminating Incandescent Lightbulb Use

The US and EU governments have introduced legislation that will effectively outlaw incandescent lightbulbs. The US Department of Energy will start enforcing the order over the next few months, while the EU initiative goes into effect in September.

Biden Administration Implements New Cost-Saving Energy Efficiency Standards for Light Bulbs

EU Commission adopts regulation to ban all fluorescent lighting by September 2023

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Rating Architecture Firms on Discrimination is a website where firms are anonymously rated on how well they serve the needs of their employees who are women or people of color.

Spill The Tea: How Architects Can Transform Workplace Culture and Call Out Toxic Office Environments

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On Employee Evaluations

Ugh - the dreaded employee evaluation. I’m pretty sure nobody (on either side) actually likes to do the annual review. However, they are important so Life of an Architect devoted a recent podcast episode to them.

Ep 130: Employee Evaluations