Karen Duckett, AIA, has attended pre-proposal meetings for public projects such as libraries and schools for years, usually encountering representatives of the same 15 or 20 Atlanta-area firms. Not anymore. At a recent meeting, 90 firms showed up, most seeking work to make up for the dearth of private sector projects. “The private sector is way, way down. Those firms that do development—residential, multifamily, commercial—they’re really hurting,” says Duckett, president of Atlanta-based, 20-person Duckett Design Group.
Architects from Miami to San Antonio confirm Duckett’s report: firms in the southern U.S. are seeing a major downturn in private-sector projects and increased competition for public-sector and institutional work.