Tag Archives: American Institute of Architects

Multidiscipline Architecture and Engineering Firms Cope Better in Shifting Markets

Press Release: April 1, 2011

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (April 1, 2011) – An expected resurgence in private spending in 2011 means that diversified architecture, engineering, planning and environmental consulting firms will be better poised to benefit from the economic recovery, say economists in the March 28 issue of The Zweig Letter, ZweigWhite’s weekly management publication.

While many design firms tried to change gears quickly in response to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, firms that were able to keep their links to the private market intact during the recession are now better positioned, Kermit Baker, chief economist with the American Institute of Architects, told TZL, and those are likely multidisciplinary, one-stop-shop type firms able to operate in several market types and geographic areas.

“You need to diversify; you need to keep your feet in several markets,” Baker said.

Six months of positive Architecture Billings Index scores show that the private market for design and construction activity is starting to pick up—namely the commercial and industrial sectors. The federal market, however, is heading in the opposite direction—92% of the federal stimulus package has now been allocated.

“Federal spending is at a plateau from which it may drop pretty steeply in the next year,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist with the Associated General Contractors of America.

David Sherrill, president of Sherrill Associates, an Edwardsville, Ill.-based land surveying, engineering and planning firm, echoed Simonson’s forecast. “We have state department of transportation work, which will be drying up at the end of this year,” he said. “I would expect all design firms will take a hit in this sector— at least two to three years.” 

Sherrill pointed to activity in the private market as a potential bright spot. “We expect moderate growth in the private sector as long as the financial district stays strong and dollars remain available to stable investors,” he said, while cautioning that he hasn’t seen any evidence of strong growth yet. “I don’t see a boom in the private sector while the public sector realignment takes place. Hang on to your pants. I’m afraid we’re still in for a rough ride for a couple more years while the entire country realigns itself to the country’s debt reality.”

For more on The Zweig Letter and to see subscription details, please visit www.zweigwhite.com.

ABOUT ZWEIGWHITE

Twice named to the Inc. 500 list of best firms, ZweigWhite is the nation’s leader in enhancing business performance for architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms. The ZweigWhite team consists of experts in business planning, mergers and acquisitions, business valuation, ownership transition, human resources management, finance, marketing, market research, project management and project delivery methods who collectively produce a comprehensive suite of products and services, including investment banking, consulting, newsletters, controlled-circulation magazines, industry reports, executive training, business conferences and more covering virtually every aspect of firm management. The firm has offices in Chicago, Ill., Durham, N.C., Fayetteville, Ark., and Natick, Mass. ZweigWhite is owned by investors Eli Global, BIA Digital Partners and MZ Ventures, with management including Mark Zweig and Ed Friedrichs. For more information, visit www.zweigwhite.com or call (479) 582-5700.

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ZweigWhite Project Management Distance Learning Gets AIA Continuing Education Approval

Press Release: March 28, 2011

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (March 28, 2011) – ZweigWhite’s first course in its new Project Management eLearning Inititative—“Managing Project Communications”—recently achieved approval by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), allowing course takers to earn AIA Learning Units that apply toward their continuing education requirements.

ZweigWhite, a premier management consulting, publishing and training firm for the architecture, engineering, planning and environmental industry, launched the Project Management eLearning Initiative earlier this year—an initiative known as distance learning that will consist of 36 project management-related courses available online.

“Our focus on project management is because we know there is more need for PM training in the A/E/P industry than any other type of management training,” says Mark C. Zweig, Founder and CEO of ZweigWhite. “Getting the AIA’s approval for our Project Management distance learning program is critical! Now architects anywhere can work to gain valuable Continuing Education Learning Units (CEUs) necessary to maintain their registrations.”

ZweigWhite’s Project Management eLearning goes beyond the usual scope, schedule and budget basics of project management by offering select insider tips and tricks from industry experts, allowing project managers (PMs) to “sit in” virtually on interviews with industry and PM leaders who know all the shortcuts and tactics to help them succeed. “It’s a rare project manager who comes equipped with full design knowledge and the necessary leadership and communication skills to manage projects,” says Zweig.

The “Course Architect” for the project management series is Stephen C. Evans, AIA, Director of Operations at Treanor Architects P.A. in Lawrence, Kansas, and former Regional Director of Operations at HOK, Inc. in St. Louis and Sr. Project Manager at HOK Sport (now called Populous) in Kansas City. Evans served as senior project manager on such major sports facilities as Progressive (formerly Jacobs) Field (Cleveland, Ohio), Bank of America (formerly Ericsson) Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.), M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore, Md.) and Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore, Md.).

Providing these courses in an online environment allows for intermittent learning, which enables a learner to start and stop whenever they want, thus learning on demand. The courses are not tied to time or distance constraints and also offer a cost savings to companies for travel expenses to seminars while alleviating concerns about time away from the office.

“Managing Project Communications,” the first eLearning course in the 36-course series is available now. Next to be released in order in April/May are Basic Accounting for Project Managers, Accounting: The Practical Application, The Project Work Plan: The Process, The Project Work Plan: The Product, Project Team Building and Facilitation Techniques.

For more information about ZweigWhite eLearning and the Project Management eLearning Initiative, please visit www.zweigwhite.com/elearning/.

ABOUT ZWEIGWHITE

Twice named to the Inc. 500 list of best firms, ZweigWhite is the nation’s leader in enhancing business performance for architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms. The ZweigWhite team consists of experts in business planning, mergers and acquisitions, business valuation, ownership transition, human resources management, finance, marketing, market research, project management and project delivery methods who collectively produce a comprehensive suite of products and services, including investment banking, consulting, newsletters, controlled-circulation magazines, industry reports, executive training, business conferences and more covering virtually every aspect of firm management. The firm has offices in Chicago, Ill., Durham, N.C., Fayetteville, Ark., and Natick, Mass. ZweigWhite is owned by investors Eli Global, BIA Digital Partners and MZ Ventures, with management including Mark Zweig and Ed Friedrichs. For more information, visit www.zweigwhite.com or call (479) 582-5700. ###

New AIA President Addresses State Of Architecture Profession

Press Release: March 8, 2011

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (March 8, 2011) — Architecture enhances people’s lives, and the emerging recognition of this effect is earning the profession newfound respect, says Clark Manus, the new president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), in the March 7 issue of The Zweig Letter.

In a wide-ranging interview in the weekly management journal published by professional services firm ZweigWhite, Manus said that more than ever architects are seen as “problem solvers.” As such, he said he relishes the role of being part of increased dialogue and dynamic about the importance of design and the importance of what design can do.

“The biggest importance is really being the voice and the face for the profession,” Manus, who is also CEO of Heller Manus Architects in San Francisco, told TZL.

Manus brought up the fact that the economic crisis has impeded the ability of many projects to take hold, which is the main challenge facing the profession. He sees the continued evolution of Building Information Modeling and the growth of collaborative approaches such as Integrated Project Delivery as the biggest trends in design, which he believes will generate a “greater benefit in the delivery of projects.”

The emergence of the International Green Construction Code, in which the AIA has been closely involved, also will shift the baseline for the design profession, he says. A model IGCC code is expected by the end of 2011. Climate change and how design professionals can help craft solutions to deal with the alterations already underway is another major trend he identified. “We’re really talking about building efficiencies,” he said.

In the interview, Manus argued that architects need to enhance their value propositions to survive and thrive in the new economy. Concepts such as evidence-based design and lifecycle analysis will consequently become more common. “The fantasy of not having quantifiable data,” he said, “is a denier of good design.”

ABOUT ZWEIGWHITE

Twice named to the Inc. 500 list of best firms, ZweigWhite is the nation’s leader in enhancing business performance for architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms. The ZweigWhite team consists of experts in strategy, mergers and acquisitions, business valuation, ownership transition, human resources management, finance, marketing, market research, project management and project delivery methods who collectively produce a comprehensive suite of products and services, including advisory, consulting, newsletters, controlled-circulation magazines, industry reports, executive training, business conferences and more covering virtually every aspect of firm management. The firm is headquartered in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with additional offices in, Chicago, IL, Durham, NC, and Natick, MA. ZweigWhite is owned by investors Eli Global, BIA Digital Partners and MZ Ventures, with management including Mark Zweig and Ed Friedrichs. For more information, visit www.zweigwhite.com or call (479) 582-5700.

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2011 Predictions Wrong: Nonresidential Construction Lagging

Press Release: February 16, 2011

Economists are pointing to a halting recovery in the nonresidential construction sector, holding back on their earlier predictions of a recovery this year. The Zweig Letter, ZweigWhite’s weekly management journal, reported in its January 14 issue that economists who follow the design and construction industries now are saying that a recovery is not expected until 2012.

According to at least one survey held by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the U.S. nonresidential construction activity will decline slightly this year, but is expected to recover in 2012, led by the hotel and retail sectors. The institute’s semi-annual Consensus Construction Forecast projects nonresidential construction spending levels to drop by 2% this year, but an increase of 5%, adjusted for inflation, is expected by 2012. The projected decline marks a deteriorating outlook. A similar survey in July 2010 pointed to a 2011 recovery.

“The key factors that have prevented an accelerated recovery include historically low lending rates for real estate projects, the lingering effects of general overbuilding and an unfavorable bond market that has hampered the ability for municipalities to get the requisite funding to build new schools and hospitals,” Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist, told The Zweig Letter. “Conditions should improve later this year and gain momentum as we move into 2012, particularly for hotel, retail, and office building projects.”

However, economist Jim Haughey, director of research and analytics with Reed Construction Data, is a bit more optimist about a recovery in the sector.

“Looking at the recent trends,” Haughey said in the Jan. 14 issue of The Zweig Letter, “nonresidential (construction) starts have picked up quite sharply from the falloff at the height of the financial problems last year…. The nonresidential construction pipeline is gradually being rebuilt. In recent credit trends, we’ve seen that investors have started buying bank real estate loans at deep discounts, and by deep, I mean as much as 50% or 60%, in some cases. This is providing the capital for a very small expansion in new project loans.”

The AIA projects construction of industrial space to fall 11.8% this year, but rise slightly in areas like health care, church and recreational facilities.

ABOUT ZWEIGWHITE

Twice named to the Inc. 500 list of best firms, ZweigWhite is the nation’s leader in enhancing business performance for architecture, engineering, and environmental consulting firms. The ZweigWhite team consists of experts in strategy, mergers and acquisitions, business valuation, ownership transition, human resources management, finance, marketing, market research, project management and project delivery methods who collectively produce a comprehensive suite of products and services, including advisory, consulting, newsletters, industry reports, executive training, business conferences and more covering virtually every aspect of firm management. The firm is headquartered in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with additional offices in, Chicago, IL, Durham, NC, and Natick, MA. ZweigWhite is owned by investors Eli Global, BIA Digital Partners and MZ Ventures, Inc.,with management including Mark Zweig and Ed Friedrichs. For more information, visit www.zweigwhite.com or call (479) 582-5700.

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