Tag Archives: economy

Unwelcome news

The report came out today that HKW, the architecture and planning firm founded in Birmingham in 1994, is shutting its doors due to economic circumstances brought on by the recent recession. Many architecture firms not just in Birmingham, but around the country, are in precarious states as the construction and design industries appear to be among the last to benefit from improvements in the economy.

A strong design community depends on lots of competition, constantly raising the bar. HKW will be missed.

[image of Boy Scouts of America Building, which was a 2005 winner of the American Institute of Architects Merit Award; photo taken by Timothy Hursey]

Architects Get Creative in a Grim Economy

I’ve stumbled on a couple stories recently–architects doing really creative things since there’s no architecture work out there. Something like 30% of architectural positions have simply disappeared in the last year–a devastating number. Most of the rest of us still standing are hanging on somehow, but I’m impressed/jealous/a little depressed by those designers who’ve taken completely new paths.

Some (former) architects who now sell ice-cream with architectural themes have a business cleverly called Coolhaus–a reference of course to Rem Koolhaas, one of my personal favorite super-star architects. I actually had him on a crit back at the GSD in the early ’90s when he was still unknown to most except a cultish following in design schools. Unfortunately this tasty looking ice cream is on the west coast, but in case you’re in Southern Cal sometime, you can track their whereabouts on twitter.

I’ve not heard of similar efforts here in Birmingham to combat the current crisis in architectural employment with some fun, original–and money-making ideas inspired by architecture but in a totally different business.

What if tomorrow a third of all lawyers were fired? Or teachers? Yet again I am reminded of the fact that architects are expendable in the US today, but oh how unattractive our world would be without us…now, would anyone stop on 2nd Avenue North in Birmingham for architectural advice if we were giving it at 5 cents like in Seattle?

Image courtesy of Coolhaus website!