Editor’s Desk: Western Determination

The Resiliency of the Architecture Industry

As we shift from pandemic to endemic, from remote working to shared offices, from pain to promise, trades and professionals across the world are finally breathing a sigh of relief.  The architecture industry has weathered the storm and come out on the other side ready to navigate the settling seas. The architecture industry has shown incredible resiliency throughout the pandemic, including now as the world tilts back to normal.  While the lingering effects of the pandemic continue to bruise the industry, strong growth patterns for architecture billings pave the road to the future.  Backlogs are averaging around 7.2 months, as of the first quarter of 2022, with the Western United States being the most robust region.  Additionally, unemployment is down and job growth is up, and while the future remains a little shaky, the overall outlook is generally optimistic. 

         Unfortunately, the ubiquitous supply chain woes that plague other industries also have their claws in the design field.  These challenges include higher costs of materials, longer lead times, and less availability of specific items.  These issues have led to architects needing to pivot to alternative materials and methods, increasing estimated project design costs, and implementing stricter contract clauses with clients regarding pricing and scheduling.  According to the February 2022 AIA Architecture Billings Index, eight out of ten architecture firms say that the impact of supply chain disruptions on projects at their firm is more serious now than one year ago.  Let’s not even get into inflation, which is absolutely out of control right now. 

         If there’s anything that the COVID-19 pandemic taught us as an industry, it’s that your ability to adapt will make or break you.  From the looks of the 2022 Architecture Billings Indexes so far, it appears that the majority of Western architecture firms have not only adapted, but they have prevailed throughout these continuing challenges.  I’m not going to naively determine that the readers of Architectural West have been unscathed by the pandemic, but Western designers possess a special determination, a grit, that undoubtedly helped the industry stay afloat.  I look forward to seeing our readers, and the industry, continue to climb.

Marcus Dodson

editor & publisher

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