With today’s economy, it is to no surprise that the design and construction industry has slowed down, significantly. There have been numerous articles in some of the trade publications such as Architect magazine (Available: Immediately), even Architectural Record has created the Architect’s Survival Guide. I have heard that in upwards of 40% of the architectural profession is currently unemployed. So needless to say, times are scary. What do you do if you loose your job because there is currently a lot of competition for very few jobs. People are starting to get creative with their marketing efforts, such as 5 cent Architect.
On the other hand, every week I feel lucky that I still have a job and still receive a paycheck. Even though we have not had a new project come into our office for almost 10 months. I guess that is the benefit of working for a smaller architectural firm that is well established. This is not the owners first recession, so he is a little more prepared for the slow down. But we have not been totally insulated from the slow down. We had to let go two of our employees back in January, which equates to almost a third of our staff. But what makes things nerve wracking is the fact that we have submitted more qualifications statements so far this year than we did all last year. And out of 10 interviews in the past 3 months, all that work has only landed us one small job that won’t even start up for another month. I guess we are lucky to get calls to submit for work, or that there is even work out there at all. I just would like to see the management of the firm out hitting the pavement a little more instead of just wait for Request For Qualifications.
As a result of the slow down, our office has actually been taking advantage of the time to re-tool itself. First it is starting to think about a new brand. How can we reinvent ourselves? We are also updating our website to get the most current projects online. We have even updated our current CAD software to the latest version and revisited our project standards in preparation for the next project. It has even given me the opportunity to organize the AIA Ohio Affordable Green Home design competition utilizing more office time. Something that I did not expect back in December when I received the approval to move forward with the competition. I have even been given the opportunity to teach Greening Your Home seminars to local homeowners, which should put a few extra dollars in my pocket. But most importantly potentially drum up some work for the office.
I try and keep my mind off the fact that we are slow and keep myself busy with the organizations that I am involved with. I will even get back to studying for the ARE (4 more exams to go!) once the competition rolls out later this month. So hopefully I will have some better news to report within the coming weeks/months as my office prepares for a couple more interviews. Until then I will continue to absorb as much knowledge as I can with the free time I have and do my part with the marketing efforts and the occasional RFI or LEED submittal that comes across my desk.