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Positive Signs of Growth Reflected in Steady ABI and Higher Intern Employment Rates

For the eight consecutive month, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is reflecting a steady upturn in design activity. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. Although the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the March ABI score was 51.9, down from a mark of 54.9 in February, this score still reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). In addition, the new projects inquiry index was 60.1, down from the reading of 64.8 the previous month.

“Business conditions in the construction industry have generally been improving over the last several months,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.  “But as we have continued to report, the recovery has been uneven across the major construction sectors so it’s not a big surprise that there was some easing in the pace of growth in March compared to previous months.”

Key ABI highlights and details indicating higher employment rates for intern architects after the break...

PKO Bank / Robert Majkut Design

© Szymon Polański © Szymon Polański © Szymon Polański © Szymon Polański

Anting Culture and Sports Activity Centre / Atelier Z+

  • Architects: Atelier Z+
  • Location: Anting, Jiading, Shanghai
  • Architects: Zhang Bin, Zhou Wei
  • Design Team: Wang Jiaqi, Lu Jun, Li Ying, Li Qin, Zhuang Sheng, Guo Yue
  • Area: 16171.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2010
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Atelier Z+

Courtesy of Atelier Z+ Courtesy of Atelier Z+ Courtesy of Atelier Z+ Courtesy of Atelier Z+

end…Link Beauty Salon / Yasunari Tsukada Design

© Stirling Elmendorf © Stirling Elmendorf © Stirling Elmendorf © Stirling Elmendorf

New York City Preserves Public Housing by Leasing Infill Land

For the past four decades, as cities faced financial pressures, high-rise public housing met its decline.  Cities throughout the country demolished public housing that was failing financially and socially, like Chicago's Cabrini-Green Housing Project whose demolition was completed in 2011, to make way for mixed use developments that encouraged economic and social diversity by way of the HOPE VI Program. This strategy resulted in the uprooting and relocation of former residents who faced uncertainty throughout the process.  

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) stands out among housing authorities in the United States due to its size - 179,000 units in 2,600 buildings across the city - and the fact that the buildings are relatively well maintained.  NYCHA has avoided resorting to demolitions to deal with its issues, instead resorting to special police services that costs NYCHA a purported $70 million a year.  Over the past decade NYCHA has been underfunded by approximately $750 million causing backlogs in necessary repairs.  

To address the mounting costs of public housing, New York City's Mayor Bloomberg has proposed an infill strategy that would attract developers onto NYCHA land and create a new layer of commercial space and residential units in public housing developments.  The goal over the next five years is to develop methods of preservation for the housing development and promote mixed-use and mixed-income developments to generate income for NYCHA.  

More on the plan after the break.

The Lighthouse 65 / AR Design Studio

  • Architects: AR Design Studio
  • Location: Hill Head, Fareham, United Kingdom
  • Architect in Charge: Andy Ramus
  • Area: 180.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2011
  • Photographs: Martin Gardner

© Martin Gardner © Martin Gardner © Martin Gardner © Martin Gardner

'Neither Cloud Nor Rock' Installation / Raum Architects

Raum Architects shared with us their recent project titled 'Neither Cloud nor Rock', an art installation for the National Institute of Agricultural Research in Nancy. The piece covers an exterior area intended to people who work there, opposite to the restaurant. It protects researchers from rain and sun. The object floats, clinging to the trees, and moves with them. More images and architects' description after the break.

UK Survey Reveals Gap Between Large and Small Practices

recent survey by the RIBA of over 2,100 UK practices revealed there is now a widening gap between 'massive' and 'micro' practices, with a 'squeezed middle' in between, as reported by BD.

This was the first mandatory survey of its members conducted by the RIBA, and gives a glimpse, for the first time, into the workings of every chartered UK practice. The RIBA's executive director of membership and profession Richard Brindley described the findings as a "tale of two professions operating in different universes". The polarized profession is most damaging to the practices in the middle; those of 10-50 employees which are large enough to have costly overheads, but not large enough to absorb them.

Large practices, employing 50 people or more, include just 3% of practices, but, thanks to their size, include 40% of registered architects. At the other extreme are practices of 10 employees or less, who account for 53% of practices despite employing a meager 10% of architects. The survey found that the majority of practices employs fewer than six people.

Read on for more results and analysis of the survey

New Cervelló School / BCQ Arquitectura

Courtesy of BCQ Arquitectura
Courtesy of BCQ Arquitectura

Courtesy of BCQ Arquitectura Courtesy of BCQ Arquitectura Courtesy of BCQ Arquitectura Courtesy of BCQ Arquitectura

Living with Sun Light / MOVEDESIGN

© Yousuke Harigane
© Yousuke Harigane
  • Architects: MOVEDESIGN
  • Location: Fukuoka, Japan
  • Architect in Charge: MOVEDESIGN
  • Designer: Mikio Sakamoto
  • Area: 154.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2010
  • Photographs: Yousuke Harigane

© Yousuke Harigane © Yousuke Harigane © Yousuke Harigane © Yousuke Harigane

Wuxi Masterplan: Mixed Use Building Complex Proposal / ATENASTUDIO

ATENASTUDIO, in collaboration with Archmaster studio, has developed a masterplan for a new district in WuxiChina, which takes a 200,000 sqm buildable zoning lot to present two main keywords which are the base of all design choices and that can be defined as generator elements of all the project: landscape and waterscape. The intention is to emphasize to the maximum the presence of water making it become a diffuse system, introducing it inside the area and in every part of the project, and using it as if it was a “3D liquid material”. More images and architects' description after the break.

Soekarno Hatta International Airport Terminal 3 Winning Proposal / Woodhead

Woodhead recently won the commission against three other international design, engineering and contractor teams to be the lead designer of architecture and interiors for the new 380,000m2, 25 million passenger Terminal 3 at Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Jakarta. The terminal is for Garuda’s expanding international and domestic fleet of aircraft and is a model of efficiency and comfort overlaid with the curation of Indonesia’s unique cultural and environmental experiences for passengers. Construction is due to be completed and the new terminal building fully operational by the close of 2015. More images and architects' description after the break.

Hu Huishan Memorial / Jiakun Architects

  • Architects: Jiakun Architects
  • Location: Anren Town, Sichuan Province, China
  • Architects: Liu Jiakun, Luo Ming, Zhang Tong, Sun En
  • Area: 52.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2009
  • Photographs: Iwan Baan

© Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan © Iwan Baan

University of Oregon Spring 2013 Lecture Series

With programs in both Eugene and Portland, the University of Oregon's School of Architecture and Allied Arts recently launched their Spring 2013 lecture series which began early this month with Neri Oxman of MIT's Media Lab, and concludes May 16th with University of Oregon's Judith Sheine's lecture in Portland. The lectures take place in Portland, Eugene, or in both cities, depending on the lecture. The full list of remaining lectures can be viewed after the break. 

UNSW Alumni Park Competition Entry / ASPECT Studios

ASPECT Studios, in collaboration with Choi Ropiha Fighera, Barbara Flynn Grounds, ARUP, Deuce Design and People for Places and Spaces, was recently selected as one of five finalists by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in a design competition for Alumni Park. In an effort to reconnect the University’s spatial hierarchy and movement patterns, the architects provide clearly articulated wayfinding and circulation routes with the new 2ha ‘Social Spine’. More images and architects' description after the break.