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Economics for architects: 1 of 5 firms look to IT

Economic downturn hurting Architects across the US – but information technology and BIM in particular may be the biggest victims.


The recent economic downturn seems to be hurting the architecture market hard. A recent AIA-Architect economics report card for architectural billings and inquiries reached a record low. The AIA (American Institute of Architects)-produced economic outlook index dropped to 36.2 in October, marking the steepest decline in the 15-year index’s history. 

Addressing the Downturn

Most architecture firms are responding to the downturn in one of several ways. The AIA-Architect report notes that only 1 out of every 5 firms is looking to investments in new technologies (information technologies) as a way of changing as a direct result to the downturn. A drop in IT investments at this time will likely slow BIM (building information modeling) adoption at a time when the industry at large is moving forward.

Part of the drive towards BIM is also directed at addressing “green design” which is more easily managed with BIM applications than with traditional CAD software. Interestingly, the AIA-Architect report didn’t specifically ask for this within its queries and only 26 percent of firms are responding to the downturn by addressing a broader set of services — of which “green design” may fit into. 

As firms look to address the downturn more than half (64 percent) are trimming expenses, which likely includes layoffs, reduced hours and pay and cutting back on all unnecessary expenses. Still, 51 percent of firms are looking at improving operational efficiencies — of which better utilization of information technologies should naturally fit. Into that bucket BIM should go! 

To read the full report go here.

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