AIA Emphatically Urges Looser Credit, Notes 30% Drop in Architectural Employment Since 2008

AIA Emphatically Urges Looser Credit, Notes 30% Drop in Architectural Employment Since 2008
Construction at 1 WTC, by ShinyThings VIA Flickr. Used under Creative Commons

The AIA has issued a “comprehensive look yet at the built environment’s role in economic recovery, highlighting six specific policy steps that will generate jobs and help grow the American economy.” Coming on the eve of President Obama’s major jobs initiative, the report cites George Mason University economist Stephen J. Miller in arguing that every $1 million in new construction spending supports “28.5 full-time, year-round-equivalent jobs.”

Miller and the AIA blame tight credit markets blocking potential progress in this area. The publication, “The Built Environment’s Role in the Recovery,” is issued with this problem in mind. “We’re putting these recommendations forward now because it’s time for the Administration and Congress to get real about creating an environment in which people are willing to lend and borrow,” said AIA President Clark Manus, FAIA, quoted in a recent AIA press release. “When credit flows to worthy projects, it unleashes the job creation potential of the American economy.”

The six policy steps addressed include:

- Support Recovery in Private Lending Markets

- Re-establish the Build America Bonds Program

- Establish a National Infrastructure Bank

- Jumpstart Green Construction and Schools

Pass a Surface Transportation Bill that Maintains Current Levels of Funding

- Repeal the Three Percent Withholding Rule for Government Contracts

In recent years, the AIA has pressed for government advocacy and financial incentives for “green” issues as they relate to the built environment, but these issues are notably absent here. The pressing issue regarding “sustainability” is no longer educating clients about the worth of green investment, and steering them toward environmentally responsible choices. Indeed, it seems as if our field’s two biggest “green” concerns have rolled into one compounded problem: we’re not just at a loss for client investment in sustainable design, we’re at a loss for client investment… period. Advocating for recovery in commercial real estate finance (reminding us that a rising tide carries all boats) and reminding the Obama administration of their stated commitment to improving American infrastructure (which, conveniently, now includes environmentally-friendly schools) is certainly one way of helping to reverse our field’s dire economic circumstances (according to the publication, architectural services employment has dropped 30% since 2008). Then again, if we as a field had consistently demonstrated our value as professionals, of which we insisted expertise in “sustainability” was a part, then we might not be as bad of a mess as we are now. As the AIA continues to advocate for our profession it should also redouble it’s efforts to cultivate best practices. After all, our economic security is principally founded not on public awareness of our practice but on our competence as professionals and the value of our services.

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Cite: Samuel Jacobson. "AIA Emphatically Urges Looser Credit, Notes 30% Drop in Architectural Employment Since 2008" 20 Sep 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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