Building on a new landscape: Architects still waiting for glimpse of recovery
By Bea Quirk CHARLOTTE — While the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) released data this month suggesting “an early signal towards a recovery for the design and construction industry,” local architects are skeptical of its optimistic conclusion. The Architecture Building Index, a leading economic indicator of construction activity, recently reached its highest level since August 2008. But the 46.1 rating means there still is a continuing decline in the demand for design services. Phil Kuttner, CEO of the Charlotte firm Little, said local architects have been struggling with “a longer drought than any of us have experienced. I’m optimistic things may pick up by the third quarter (of 2010), but it won’t be a sudden uptick — it will get better only gradually.” Dave Crawford, executive vice president of AIA North Carolina, feels Charlotte’s pain. “Everyone wants to see a glimmer of hope, and the AIA is trying to put a positive spin on things,” he said. “But it’s a rough ride.” A major reason for the pessimism in Charlotte is that local architects have been hit harder by the recession than their state and national counterparts.