Architects are feeling the chill of an economic recession and the effects of the U.S. subprime crisis. Despite an estimated 2.2 percent drop in GDP in 2008, a decrease in housing starts, and a reluctance on the part of banks to lend, design firms large and small are hoping to wait out the storm. Due to its dependence on foreign financing, speculative housing has been particularly hard hit, falling 5.8 percent in December from the year before. As a result, developers are going bankrupt and projects are dying.
But other sectors have slowed without coming to a complete stop. “Sometimes a break is good, since it gives us a chance to take another look at the design and maybe make it better,” says Michel Weenick, president of the Tokyo firm PAE Design and Facility Management. After a six-month hiatus, PAE is moving forward on an auction facility for trucks and construction equipment.