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Posts Tagged ‘2010’

The new year offers us all a time for reflection and looking forward. It’s a time to make new promises to ourselves and begin on the adventure of self improvement. There was once a time when I would habitually make new year resolutions; this year I’ve thrown the need for an annual resolution by the wayside. The reason – there seems to be so many changes on the horizon of 2010 that I don’t dare complicate life further by yet another change.

Here’s how my new year is shaping up so far: last month I invested a lot of time into my professional hobby, chocolate making. It paid off and now I have new opportunities and much more experimentation ahead of me. I have no idea where it will lead, but it will be a tasty traverse. And while we’re on the subject of chocolate, my chocolate making teaching career (a term a use lightly) with Taste of Chocolate is full speed ahead. By the time I’m through, all of Boston will be expert in truffle making.

I have a good friend with a great idea for an apparel accessory of sorts. We’ll be working together to explore the possibilities.

And lastly, my real job, we’re entering the frontier where many design firms have gone before (many within the past year) – we’re down to a 4 day work week. It was a move that was made with much thought and preparation. And a move which should strengthen our position as we come out the other (hopefully short lived) end. With this thoughtfulness will come many new marketing initiatives for 2010, including a new website.

2010 will be nothing less than exciting. It is because of the inherent change built within changes already underway that I find no need for a 2010 resolution. But to the rest of you – good luck fulfilling the new and improved you.

Image credit: Flickr user Amir K.

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This week is Build Boston week in, well, Boston. Sponsored by the Boston Society of Architects (Boston’s local AIA chapter), it’s a week where architects from New England and beyond converge upon the city for a crash course in everything of interest in the profession and pick up their much coveted learning units along the way.

On Wednesday I had the pleasure (or was it self-inflicted torture) of sitting in on McGraw Hill’s 2010 Construction Outlook presented by VP of Economic Affairs, Robert Murray. I say torture only because of the often depressing data that was presented. The good news is things are getting better, the bad news – many of the things that are getting better are merely presenting in lower negative numbers. For example, in 2010 commercial building starts are expected to be at negative 4 percent, in 2009 that number was negative 43 percent.

Here are some  highlights I took away:

  • There’s lots of talk about new urbanism, smart growth and transit oriented development. As I enjoy the benefits of urban living every day I think these are all great things. However, the data is showing that it’s still the big box stores and single family residences that are getting built. I think it’s going to take a stronger economy before developers and banks are flush enough to return to funding more creative urbanistic projects.
  • Residential construction will start rebounding first, composed primarily of single family and small scale multi-family housing. This could be a nice boost for single architects that have decided to set up shop on their own after a layoff. Sole practitioners and/or small firms are more nimble by nature and can reap more from small fee jobs than the big firms can, putting the smaller guys at an advantage for long term success.
  • Having the knowledge and experience working with sites in need of environmental clean-up will be a strong competitive advantage as we see growth in spending resulting from stimulus funds distributed to the EPA, Corps of Engineers and DOE ($17.8 billion). In most cases previous matching requirements for cities and towns to take advantage of these funds will be waved. Money for the 2nd round of stimulus dollars needs to be allocated by March 2010.
  • Now is the time to be looking at transit oriented development as these projects will likely start breaking ground in 2011. However, as I stated in my first point, we need to look at ways to make these successful without relying on big box stores. To make TOD truly livable we need to be thinking lifestyle retail and take the gamble that this market too will come back. In Massachusetts we have Westwood Station as one of our TOD projects that has been put on hold. Robert noted that while this project started out incorporating a mix of lifestyle retail with a couple anchors, the developers are now looking to bring in more big box stores to help lift the project off the ground.

These are just some of the takeaways from 30 data laden pages of slides that were presented. If you’d like a copy of the presentation send me an email and I’ll be happy to share the document with you. Vconyngham [at] gmail [dot] com.

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