“It’s like déjà vu all over again,” AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said of the steep springtime drop reflected in May’s Architectural Billings Index (ABI). Baker was referring to the trend from 2011, when design activity took a substantial hit after an initially healthy first quarter. “But we don’t want to have a repeat of last year,” he added referring to the sluggish numbers that continued to shadow the profession through the fall. The new numbers were the worst since October and, Baker said, reflect trends in the larger economy.
With nine million dollars total in prizes up for grabs, The Mayor’s Challenge simply asks for innovations in city life, a subject that’s been a growing concern for countless architects, planners, and governments worldwide. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the competition last week calling for individual designers and teams to address urban challenges from sustainability to citizen empowerment. “Every day, mayors around America are tackling increasingly complex problems with fewer and fewer resources,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Our cities are uniquely positioned to inspire and foster the innovation, creativity, and solutions needed to improve people’s lives and move America forward.”
With just a year and a half left of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure remaining, the first of his major appointees, New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, is moving on. Under Benepe, the Parks Department was transformed on a scale that approached the early tenure of Robert Moses. Since his appointment in 2002, the commissioner oversaw the largest expansion of waterfront parks like Brooklyn Bridge Park, embraced public-private partnerships as seen on the High Line, and distributed more than $250 million in Croton Water Filtration funds to small pocket parks throughout the Bronx.
As North America’s largest interior design conference, Neocon is a great place to scout interiors trends. Here are a couple themes AN spotted during this year’s opening days. Video conference calls are an integral part of day-to-day office work for a growing share of businesses. Elegant office design and high-tech compatibility seemed to dovetail in many of the new products on display at Neocon. Read More
On Monday at the Society for Information Display’s Display Week trade show in Boston, Corning Inc. launched their new high-performance, paper thin, cost effective, and fully flexible Willow Glass. Capable of being manufactured with efficient roll-to-roll processing, like that used for newsprint, and processed at up to 500° C, Willow glass is sure to usher in a new wave of development in displays, lighting, and flexible solar cells. Read More
As part of ongoing subtle austerity measures, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced Monday that as part of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000, they will transfer ownership of 12 lighthouses to willing non-federal-government organizations. Eligible state or local governments, non-profit corporations, historic preservation groups, or community development organizations have 60 days to file a letter expressing interest in the properties. If no suitable taker is found, then a public auction will take place. The measure is part of President Obama’s initiative to save $1.5 billion in federal money by reducing overhead costs of maintaining federal real estate, and the GSA claims that they are on track to save $3.5 billion by the end of the year. Read More
“The Energy Tour” is a music video and performance tour premiering at the AIA 2012 convention, happening now in Washington D.C. Produced by YKK AP America, the video introduces the new YUW 750 XT unitized wall system, part of the company’s enerGfacade product line.
Part advertisement, part SNL Digital Short, part amateur YouTube upload, the video features two Ohio State students in suits rapping about new YKK AP products, “Listen up the saving starts now,/ Come and roll with us and we’ll show you how./ To minimize costs and reduce heat gain,/ What they say is we’ll make it rain.”
YKK AP America has used YouTube before, including a “Building a Better Tomorrow, Today” video competition and another enerGfacade product release video, both in 2010. With a simple beat and scenes of dancing architects excited about energy efficiency, this new video is a novel, youth-oriented addition to advertising for the design community.
For the past five months things were looking up for the Architecture Billings Index. Until now. Granted, the index was merely teetering on the positive side of the spectrum at 50.4 for March (any score above 50 reflects an increase), so it didn’t have far to drop into the negative territory of 48.4 for April. Despite the five-month positive stint, throughout the period AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker urged cautious optimism in what has clearly been a tepid recovery. In a statement released today, he said that the decline in demand for design services is not surprising considering continued volatility in the overall economy. “Favorable conditions during the winter months may have accelerated design billings, producing a pause in projects that have moved ahead faster than expected,” he said.
The results are in and the winners of the 31st annual Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers were announced on Friday. The recipients of the 2012 awards are: Jorge Arvizu, Ignacio del Rio, Emmanuel Ramirez, and Diego Ricalde, MMX Studio, Mexico City; Jimenez Lai, Bureau Spectacular, Chicago; Sean Lally, WEATHERS / Sean Lally, Chicago; Seung Teak Lee and Mi Jung Lim, STPMJ, Brooklyn; Michael Szivos, SOFTlab, New York; and Koji Tsutsui, Koji Tsutsui & Associates, San Francisco and Tokyo. Formerly the Young Architects Forum, the League Prize is considered one of North America’s most prestigious awards for young architects.
Welcome to AN‘s live Facebook Live Stream chat on sustainability which took place on Wednesday, April 18 from 3:00 until 4:00 p.m. EST. “What is Green, Anyway” covered what exactly makes a project green, how effective green standards are, how sustainability is driving design (and whether it should), and where green design is heading. AN’s West Coast Editor Sam Lubell was joined by Angela Brooks, partner at Brooks + Scarpa, John Stein, president of Kirei, a green materials company, and Eric Corey Freed, principal at organicARCHITECTURE to discuss the issues and take your questions.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by and joined the discussion! (And don’t forget to like AN’s Facebook page to stay up-to-date with the latest architecture and design news.) Special thanks as well to our panel of experts.
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has registered promising gains since late last fall, and, according to the AIA’s latest report on March billings, the ABI continues to find its footing in positive territory—but just barely. The overall March score was 50.4, indicating slight growth in demand for services (any score above 50 reflects increase in billings) but less growth than the previous month (the ABI was 51.0 in February).