They’re back! Positive numbers for the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) jumped up in August to 51.4 from a dismal 45.1 in July where it had been stewing in negative land for months. (Anything over 50 indicates positive growth.) Together with a sharp rise as well in Project Inquiries to 56.9 (up from 53.7), the good news seems cautiously solid. “This turnaround in demand for design services is a surprise,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. Regional averages, however, remained below the positive bar across the country indicating that firms generally are still struggling. These numbers predate the next injection of stimulus money—whatever shape it takes—which will be sure to give another jolt. Unless, of course, billings are tracking the roller-coaster antics of the stock market.
“The stock market is doing what the economy is doing which is not moving solidly in one direction, either way,” Baker said by phone. “The stop-start that we have seen over the past two years is going to stay with us. I would love to believe that these latest numbers are the start of a Grand Recovery. And maybe they are. The evidence is just not there yet to be sure.”
Tonight in New York, Gary Hustwit’s new film Urbanized will make its U.S. premiere in front of a sold out crowd at the Sunshine Theater. Hustwit has just released this trailer for the the final segment of his design-inspired trilogy which previously included Helvetica and Objectified. After New York, Urbanized heads out west to San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and more before moving back across the country in October. Check out a full listing here and don’t miss our interview with Gary Hustwit where we ask him about his film.
Sometimes it seems like our world is peopled entirely by yesterday’s and tomorrow’s Designers of the Year. But at least DesignMiami’s Global Forum for Design’s Designer of the Year Award comes with a nifty commission. This year the honor goes to David Adjaye and he will be designing a site specific installation for the entrance to the fair’s temporary structure on Miami Beach, open from November 29 through December 4.
For the fifth straight month the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has posted negative figures, with the only positive number on the chart coming from billing inquiries.
The overall number dropped from 46.3 in June to 45.1 in July (any ABI number below 50 is considered negative). AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker once again pointed to the larger economy as the source of industry woes. “The stuff that’s going on with the national level is consistent with what we’re experiencing,” said Baker, adding that given the current political situation he didn’t think another stimulus package would make it through Congress. “The politics of that is going to be tough; there’s a problem with increased spending,” he said. Even if it did, the last package didn’t really trickle down to the industry. “I have a hunch if there’s a chance it would go through, it would look a lot like the last stimulus and architects didn’t get a lot from that,” he said.
It might be the latest trend in creative modern eco-office design or, more likely, it’s a tongue-in-cheek reminder to avoid letting work take over your life. In the typical modern office with row upon row of geometric cubicles, the closest a worker might get to nature is a small potted plant, a faraway glimpse out a window, or a rainforest background on his or her computer. But a new installation in downtown Denver quite literally breaks down this man-made environment in an effort to promote outdoor activity and a connection to nature during the workday.
In case you missed the news, Dwell magazine editor-in-chief Sam Grawe (pictured) is stepping down. He had been EIC for five years and with the magazine for eleven. No word yet on why he decided to leave, but we did get this (below) statement from Dwell marketing director Nancy Alonzo, which mentions that Grawe turned down an offer to stay with the magazine as editor at large.
Since Avatar’s release in 2009 architects have coveted the lush vegetation of the habitable moon Pandora for their own digital models, and today their calls have been answered. Interactive Data Visualization, the South Carolina-based developer of SpeedTree Cinema and SpeedTree for Games—used to create Avatar’s abundant flora as well as landscaping in your kids’ favorite video games—has released a new architect-friendly format.
Sooner or later, aerodynamic trains will be zipping across the farm fields of the heartland and the Van Alen Institute wondered what cultural, environmental, and economic implications such a novel technology would bring. After revealing ten winners of its Life at the Speed of Rail ideas competition, it appears that high speed rail could one day mean larger-than-life mechanical farm animals roaming around the countryside. At least that’s the vision of Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer of Urbana, IL whose project, Animal Farmatures, reimagines farm implements as entertainment for passing riders.
Winners were announced today at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. and soon, the Van Alen will be taking Life at the Speed of Rail on the road (although unfortunately not yet by train). Stops include St. Louis’ Museum of Contemporary Art at 7:00p.m. on June 28, Houston’s James Baker III Institute at Rice University at 6:00p.m. on July 7, and Los Angeles’ Caltrans District 7 Headquarters at 4:00p.m. on July 12.
Vitra’s new ID Chair Concept by Antonio Citterio will include a mesh backrest option called Diamond Mesh, a 3-D pleated textile that allows for the air circulation of a standard mesh seat but with the comfort of an upholstered chair. Backrests are available in several heights, with optional head or lumbar supports. A complementary Silk Mesh seat upholstery is also available.
KnollTextiles recently introduced its new Ink collection, a collaboration with Pentagram partner Abbott Miller. The collection is a study in ink on paper and features three patterns: Drip, a series of interconnected letters; Drop (pictured), a striped ink-dot pattern; and Run, a “modern toile” created by guiding small ink drops across a page. All three patterns are 52 inches wide and made with 70 percent vinyl and 30 percent recycled polyester (backing).