green shoots? how about full on growing plants.
right now... it feels.... busy - at least at my firm. we're winning a lot of opportunities, hiring people, looking to expand our offices. yes, it smells like growth (or bacon. though i really don't understand the attraction).
anecdotally, the whole of the architectural market in the u.s. seems busy. or at least busier than we've seen in a long time. hiring is up - perhaps way up over the past year. the best graduates are fielding multiple offers in town and the job placement rates are the highest they've been in a while at our local universities.
this kind of optimism doesn't extend to the full profession yet - there's still some de-leveraging going on in the market, especially in very specific sectors that seemed to have (to most people) weathered the initial brunt of downturn - science and technology at university level is one area where we've seen layoffs over the past few months at a broader level. and there's plenty of global warning signs - the pain in spain is... well, beyond any real joking around.
but overall, it's a far busier spring than we've seen in a long time. it's truly a good thing.
as we generally ramp up (and pray the knuckleheads in washington don't rain on our parade) there's some interesting questions for the profession over the next year:
is this rebound 'genuine' (see the most recent aia architecture billings index - it's above the mendoza line of 50, but has slipped compared to recent months. and, overall, it's not growing at the rate a 'roaring recovery' would seem to indicate (and the economy itself isn't quite growing as fast as we'd all like).
are mergers and acquisitions 'done' or out on the side for a while? or will we see further consolidation and growth of the biggest firms as the mid-sized firm continues it's long steady decline?
are we about to see a radical shift to it being an 'employee's' market? multiple offers for some of the best talent; lots of lateral or upwards moves (firm to firm, people who've left the industry coming back) on the increase, etc. and, if so, how will employers react?
will we see 'the middle' - firms between 20 and 100 people - grow and thrive or be caught between more nimble, smaller firms and the crush of trans-global giants?
there's nothing's scientific in these ruminations - that's up to the real researchers. but if the early signs around these parts hold for everyone else, hang on to your rotrings and let's all get back to work...
Central to the blog is a long running interest in how we construct practices that enable and promote the kind of work we are all most interested in. From how firms are run, structured, and constructed, the main focus will be on exploring, expanding and demystifying how firms operate. I’ll be interviewing different practices – from startups to nationally recognized firms, bringing to print at least one a month. Our focus will be connecting Archinect readers with the business of practice.