Working in Brazil: The Pros & Cons

View of Rio De Janeiro. Image © SCIENTIFANTASTIC

In this article, which originally appeared on AIArchitectSara Fernández Cendón discusses the opportunities and challenges for US architects who are taking advantage of Brazil’s development boom, particularly in the wake of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and in preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Until Brazil was selected to host the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympic Games in 2016, only three countries had hosted both events back-to-back. Successful bids for either event are usually equal parts proof that the country already has what it takes and a promise that it will do whatever else necessary to make things run smoothly.

In Brazil’s case, the “promise” part has generated a handful of projects for architectural firms around the world; Populous is responsible for conceptual design a stadium in the city of Natal, for example. And some observers believe that World Cup building delays could generate a rush of last-minute opportunities for foreign construction professionals. But even if these two headline-grabbing events haven’t been fully planned and designed by foreigners new to Brazil, the country is evolving into an emerging market for American architects, built on its intense thirst for upgraded commercial and transit infrastructure.

How Will the Shutdown Affect Architects?

Capitol Rotunda. Image Courtesy of Architect of the Capitol

The President, Mickey Jacob, FAIA has just released the following statement on the US government’s historic shutdown: “The design and construction industry is slowly recovering from one of the worst economic crises in modern history. The last thing we need is the self-inflicted wound that can potentially further damage the .” To find out just how the shutdown could affect you, check out the AIA’s FAQ page here.

A Delightfully Candid Interview with Chicago’s Lifetime Achievement Winner: Stanley Tigerman

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Stanley Tigerman, an outspoken force on the architecture scene, was recently bestowed (much to his amazement) ’s highest honour: the Lifetime Achievement Award. “I’ve done some damage to them and I’m aware of it. I’ve challenged them…” he explains to Meg Graham of Grid. “So that they then turn around in a way and turn the other cheek and give me this award does not go unnoticed by me. And I’m thrilled by it.” You can find the full, wonderfully entertaining interview, in which he discusses the award, keeping up in a digital world, and getting older (without becoming “ridiculous”),here

AIA Puts Resiliency on the Agenda: “Resilience Is the New Green”

At the Clinton Global Initiative (l to r) Robert Ivy, FAIA; New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu; Cameron Sinclair, co-founder ; Former U.S. President Bill Clinton; Martyn Parker, Chairman Global Partnerships at Swiss Re; Alex Karp, co-founder Palantir; Judith Rodin, Ph.D, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. Image Courtesy of AIA

The AIA has decidedly found its latest buzz word: Resiliency.

Just this week at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, former-president Bill Clinton announced the American Institute of Architects’ participation in the 100 Resilient Cities Commitment: an initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation to provide 100 cities with “chief resilience offers,” responsible for developing and financing new, resilient urban infrastructures. So far, over 500 cities have requested to participate; on December 3rd, the Rockefeller Foundation will announce the winning cities.

Along with Architecture for Humanity, the AIA will then train those cities’ resilience officers, “architects in their communities,” by creating “five Regional Resilient Design Studios that build on our profession’s collective expertise in helping communities recover in the wake of major disasters.”

But the “resilience” doesn’t stop there.

AIA Investigates Home Design Trends in Second Quarter

Courtesy of

The AIA Home Design Trends Survey is out for the second quarter of 2013. Since early 2012, business conditions have steadily been trending upwards, and within the past year alone, architects have reported a recovery in nearly every construction sector. Taking into consideration the “strong levels of inquiries for new projects, the growing levels of project backlogs, and the uniformly strong readings from firms across all regions of the country,” workloads for architects are predicted to stay strong for the next quarters and future market conditions will only improve.

For more on the AIA’s findings, keep reading. 

AIA Compensation Survey: Architect Salary Increases Minimally from 2011

Exhibit 1.1 via AIA

Though most architecture firms have benefited from a steady upturn in the over the past few years, architect salaries remain low. According to U.S. Census Bureau, architecture firms have experienced a 11 percent increase in revenue from 2011 to 2012. Despite this, as reported by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the average total compensation for architecture positions—including base , overtime, bonuses, and incentive compensation—has increased only slightly over 1 percent per year between 2011 and 2013. This 1 percent is barely more than the average increase in compensation between 2008 and 2011, when the construction sector was still in steep decline.

AIA Presents 2013 Educational Facility Design Excellence Awards

Sandy High School; Sandy, Oregon / Dull Olson Weekes – IBI Group Architects © Josh Partee

The American Institute of Architects () Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) has selected five educational and cultural facilities for this year’s CAE Educational Facility Design . The award honors educational facilities that the jury believes should serve as an example of a superb place in which to learn, furthering the client’s mission, goals and educational program while demonstrating excellence in architectural design. 

The 2013 CAE Educational Facility Design Award winners are:

AIA Construction Forecast Predicts Brighter Prognosis in 2014

Via Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon.

With slower than expected activity in the nonresidential construction sector in the first half of the year, the projections for growth in spending have been scaled back.  Led by the hotel and retail project categories, the commercial sector looks largely unchanged, but a noteworthy drop in demand for institutional projects has caused participants in the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast , a survey of the United State’s leading construction forecasters, to reduce projections for spending to a 2.3% increase in 2013, with next year’s projections raised to 7.6%.

The Architecture of Incarceration: Can Design Affect the Prison System?

Pelican Bay State Prison © Jelson25

On July 9th, 30,000 prison inmates across California took part in a hunger strike to show solidarity with those incarcerated in Pelican Bay State Prison, a ‘Solitary Housing Unit’ in which prisoners are incarcerated – some supposedly for years at a time – in solitary confinement.

Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) and its founder Raphael Sperry have made it their mission to make sure that architects are not complicit in designing prisons, even going so far as to form a petition asking the AIA to forbid members from designing execution chambers, ‘supermax’ prison facilities or solitary confinement facilities, as part of their statement that “members should uphold human rights in all their professional endeavors.”

At ArchDaily we have already questioned whether it may actually be beneficial for architects to design prisons, rather than allowing them to be designed by less-trained people who could end up designing a space that is even less humane. Now, an article on Blouin Art Info seems to take a similar position: rather than retreating from the business of prison design altogether, architects should try to encourage prison design that facilitates rehabilitation rather than emphasizing punishment.

June’s ABI Reflects Consistent Industry Growth

June ABI via Calculated Risk

The (ABI) remained positive again in June after the first decline in ten months in April. 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. The American Institute of Architects () reported the June ABI score was 51.6, down from a mark of 52.9 in May. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 62.6, up sharply from the reading of 59.1 the previous month.

Key ABI highlights and details on the construction industries remaining threats after the break…

AIA Selects 12 Projects for National Healthcare Design Awards

Kaleida Health, Gates Vascular Institute and UB Clinical Translational Research Center; Buffalo, New York / Cannon Design © K C Kratt Photography

Showcasing the “best of healthcare building design and healthcare design-oriented research,” the American Institute of Architects () Academy of Architecture for Health (AAH) has unveiled the 2013 recipients of the AIA National Healthcare Design Awards program. Each project is said to exhibit conceptual strengths that solve aesthetic, civic, urban, and social concerns as well as the requisite functional and sustainability concerns of a hospital. See them all, after the break.

AIA Elects Elizabeth Chu Richter, FAIA, for 2015 President

Courtesy of  for President, Facebook Page

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reports that it has elected Elizabeth Chu Richter, the CEO of Richter Architects in Corpus Christi, Texas, to serve as the 2014 AIA first vice president/president-elect and 2015 AIA president.  James Easton Rains, Jr., FAIA, and Thomas V. Vonier, FAIA, will each serve as vice president from 2014 through 2015; James P. Grounds, AIA, will be the Institute’s Treasurer.

Chu Richter’s statement: “I’m hoping that my leadership will help bring the AIA into a more member-focused future, building greater public engagement and understanding, while also refining the Institute’s leadership structure and operation focus. More than ever, the repositioned AIA will be highly valued and globally relevant in its service to society in building a better world.”

AIA 2013: Top Ten Lessons of Leadership by General Colin Powell

© ArchDaily

“It’s not where you start in life, it’s where you end up and all the places you went in between.” – United States General

For the closing keynote speaker of the stimulating, three-day “Building Leaders” convention in Colorado, the American Institute of Architects () selected one of America’s most admired public figures to share wisdom and insight to becoming a great leader.

General Colin L. Powell, a first-generation American born from Jamaican immigrants in 1937, is the epitome of the American dream. Starting life in the South Bronx, Powell paved his way to becoming a highly respected, four-star general in the United States Army and the first African American to serve as Secretary of State. A natural storyteller, Powell effortlessly captivated the audience of architects with a series of experiences and lessons he had learned throughout his lifetime of service.

General Colin Powell’s top ten lessons of leadership after the break…

AIA 2013: Citizen Architect

Cameron Sinclair at the 2013 AIA National Convention in Denver © ArchDaily

“When you build a beautiful building, people love it. And the most sustainable building in the world is the one that’s loved.” – Cameron Sinclair, Co-founder of Architecture for Humanity

Cameron Sinclair is a man who sustains his passion for helping improve the world, one project at a time, by tapping into the skilled enthusiasm of like-minded architects from all over the globe. Since the co-founding of his non-profit organization with Kate Stohr in 1999, Sinclair and his interdisciplinary teams of citizen architects have provided shelter for more than two million people worldwide.

Under his leadership, Architecture for Humanity’s infectious mantra has inspired thousands to join its cause every year, allowing the organization to expand at an unbelievable rate and become the exemplar of public interest design. Considering this, it is no surprise that Sinclair was selected to be the keynote speaker on day two of the 2013 AIA National Convention.

Keeping the momentum from yesterday’s inaugural speech, where founder Blake Mycoskie shared his success story of “doing well by doing good,” Sinclair urged architects to hold close the true value of their profession.

Learn what Cameron Sinclair believes to be the ‘true value of architects’ after the break.

AD Interviews: Mickey Jacob, President AIA 2013

Since we’re in Denver for the AIA National Convention, we seized upon the opportunity to interview Mickey Jacob, FAIA, managing principal at Urban Studio Architects and the President of the AIA for 2013. We sat down with Jacob to get his opinion on some important issues facing the architecture profession today.

On this year’s conference theme (Building Leaders), Jacobs explained, “I want to create better opportunities for architects to take on leadership roles, and once we do, we elevate the public awareness of the importance of architecture.” He also gives his advice for students and emerging professionals, encouraging young architects to, “share your creativity, share your energy, share your leadership ability.”

AIA 2013: Conscious Capitalism and the Future of Business

AIA president Mickey Jacobs © ArchDaily

Thousands have flocked to the Mile High City in Colorado to attend the American Institute of Architects (AIA) . The three-day event was enthusiastically kickstarted this morning by AIA president Mickey Jacobs who honored Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects with the 2013 Architecture Firm Award; highlighted this year’s theme of leadership; and featured words of advice from TOMS founder and chief shoe giver, Blake Mycoskie.

Learn TOMS Founder Mycoskie’s top advice for architects after the break. 

AIA Honors Joint Creativity by Revising Gold Medal Award Criteria

Perot Museum of Nature and Science designed by the 2013 Winner: Thom Mayne of Morphosis

In the wake of Pritzker’s refusal to retroactively acknowledge Denise Scott Brown’s role in Robert Venturi’s 1991 Pritzker Prize, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Board of Directors have voted to expand the prestigious Gold Medal award’s criteria to include either an individual or two individuals working together in a collaborative partnership. In order to be considered, partners must have created a singular body of distinguished architectural work.

Improving Residential Market Leads to Larger Homes and an Increase in Property Enhancements

Paschke Danskin Double Loft, Rhode Island / 3six0 Architecture © John Homer Photography

According to the AIA, The American Institute of Architects, the American housing market is at its strongest growth level since 2005. As the once struggling residential market continues to improve, the size of homes is also growing in both high-end and custom homes as well as in additions to existing homes. Data from the Home Design Trends Survey reveals that preferences for accessible spaces in homes – such as open-space layouts and single-floor design – is also on the rise.

To see the survey’s findings and to learn more about today’s housing market, read on.