In January, Minneapolis-based Cuningham Group Architecture submitted a proposal for a public elementary school in Austin, Texas. It expected to be one of ten competing firms, says firm principal Tim Dufault, AIA; instead, it was one of two dozen. Similarly, it expected little competition for an elementary school in suburban Albuquerque—a project that ultimately drew 32 proposals.
Traditionally, public schools are not the most sought after commissions, due to low budgets and little room for unique designs. That so many firms are now pursuing these types of commissions reflects a hard reality: the public realm is one of the only sectors with a pulse right now.