Friday, August 6, 2010

The “Great Recession” has certainly taken a toll on Architecture Firms …..

I did a previous post about the closing, earlier this year, of Rink Design, a long-time, well-known, well-regarded Architecture firm in Jacksonville, FL. Jack Diamond, the senior principal of Rink Design Partnership, has since opened a new firm, Diamond Architectural Group.

I certainly don’t know how many Architecture firms have closed their doors altogether or taken their businesses into bankruptcy and reorganized (and remained open), since the “Great Recession” began impacting the A/E/C industry in late 2007 (and, for some, a bit earlier than that.) But, I do know that many Architecture firms in the U.S. (and elsewhere) have seriously downsized their staffs.

I was doing some “International” Architecture research today and decided, for whatever reason, to Google “Architecture firm closes” …. and, as you might have guessed, quite a number of “architecture-firm-closes” articles came up. I’m going to mention a few of those:

The End of Sienna Architecture
Posted by Brian Libby, January 15, 2009
In today's Oregonian it was my sad duty to report on the closing of Sienna Architecture Company. Originally known as JKS Architecture before a 1990s name change that accompanied a new focus on urban infill, Sienna has operated in Portland for almost 58 years. As recently as last summer, the firm employed 45 people in its local office and 9 more in Seattle. But unfortunately, an October cut in staff couldn't stem the tide.

A Once Eminent Firm Meets a Bitter End
By John Gallagher, January 28, 2010
The legacy firm of famed midcentury Modernist Minoru Yamasaki has closed its doors amid a sea of recriminations and debts. Yamasaki Associates, based in Troy, Michigan, eight miles north of Detroit, was shuttered on December 31. It laid off its remaining full and part-time staff—about 10 employees—and left behind a welter of lawsuits and unpaid claims. The owner, businessman Ted Ayoub, a non-architect who had bought the firm in 2007, is reportedly traveling in the Middle East and has not been available for comment.

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 | Posted by robin
Birmingham Architecture firm HKW Associates closes its doors. 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.

Architectural firm that shaped Newark and N.Y.C. skylines closes after 104 years
Published: Thursday, March 25, 2010
An iconic architectural firm that helped shape skylines in New York City, Newark and the nation’s capital has closed after more than a century designing skyscrapers, symphony houses and sports arenas. Grad Associates, responsible for such landmark structures as the Essex House Hotel, a 40-story Art Deco tower built in 1930 on New York’s Central Park South; the Raymond Commerce Building, the 1929 Art Deco tower that at one point was New Jersey’s tallest structure and the Department of Defense’s Forrestal Building complex in Washington, D.C., shuttered its doors at Two Gateway Center in Newark on Feb. 21. The architectural giant — which had 135 employees at its height in the 1980s, was the victim of the dearth of commercial projects during the Great Recession.

Cubellis, One of Boston’s Largest Firms, Shuttered
By C. J. Hughes, December 4, 2009
Cubellis, a top-earning international architecture and engineering firm headquartered in Boston, has closed. The 23-year-old firm, which has 12 offices, including one in Dubai, told its employees of the shutdown the day before Thanksgiving, according to the Boston Business Journal, which first reported the news. In 2008, the firm came in 60th out of the U.S.’s 250 most-successful firms, with revenues of $51 million, according to a survey by Architectural Record.

Victim Of Economy, City Architecture Firm Closes After 62 Years
September 25, 2009 | By Lorraine Mirabella
Baltimore architectural firm Cochran, Stephenson & Donkervoet will close Oct. 2 after 62 years, a victim of a recession that has hit hard in the housing and health care sectors. The firm, which at its peak employed more than 100 people in Baltimore and three other cities, has been reducing staff and office space for several months and now employs 35 to 40 people in Baltimore and Dallas, with about two dozen in Baltimore. "This was not an easy decision for the stockholders," said Chairman Tom Spies. The company "did succumb to the country's current economic crisis, the disappearance of funding options for senior living developers and extreme caution in the health care sector," areas in which the firm specializes.

By: Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson, May 24, 2010
The Rise and Fall (and Rebirth) of CSD
How could one of Baltimore’s oldest and largest architecture firms suddenly collapse? Ed Hord remembers Sunday, Sept. 6, 2009, as a particularly sunny day in Baltimore. The senior principal of design firm Hord Coplan Macht (HCM) was at home when he received a phone call from Tom Spies, then the senior vice president of CSD Architects. Hord and Spies were practically neighbors—in business and in life—with offices blocks from one another and homes in the same bucolic neighborhood north of the city. HCM and CSD were not exactly competitors, but they did share a healthy rivalry; over the years, Hord and Spies had developed a kinship in the small pond that is Baltimore architecture. When Spies said he needed to talk, Hord told him to come right over. (Part of CSD has since been merged into HCM.)

Green prehab Architecture firm calls it quits.
May 26, 2009
Green prefab architecture firm Michelle Kaufmann Designs is calling it quits, a victim of the credit crisis and broader woes in the economy. In a letter sent over Memorial Day weekend, Kaufmann told clients the firm would close by the end of this week. She confirmed the news in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. Kaufmann, who worked for Frank Gehry and Michael Graves early in her career, was a pioneer in the so-called modern prefab movement of recent years. She was also one of the first architects to make a persuasive case that prefab design, which reduces construction waste and damage to building sites, among other benefits, was in a number of ways synonymous with sustainability. After launching her own firm in Northern California in 2004, she oversaw an office that grew to include two dozen staffers, operated its own factory outside Seattle and completed more than 40 prefab houses, most of them on the West Coast. The firm developed several house templates and also offered lighting, sinks and other products on its website.

Architecture firm RTKL closes down sports group led by Turner
Published December 01, 2008
The slowdown in sports construction has forced architects to lay off designers and support staff. The most noticeable cuts came at RTKL in Los Angeles, which eliminated its sports and public assembly group led by Ron Turner, a company vice president. Turner, an industry pioneer whose 30-year résumé includes designing Staples Center, Safeco Field and Paul Brown Stadium, and three other architects in the sports division were let go in mid-November, confirmed Thom McKay, an RTKL vice president in Baltimore. The firm hired Turner in August 2005.

Architectural firm closes doors: Citing the ailing national economy, BSW ceases operations.
By Robert Evatt Tulsa World, Okla. Date: Thursday, August 28 2008
Publication: Tulsa World (Oklahoma)
BSW International Inc., a Tulsa-based architectural firm that specialized in restaurant, retail and lodging design, has ceased operations. CEO Bob Workman said Wednesday that the weak national economy caused work to dry up, making it impossible to continue. "The economy is a lot worse than people give it credit for," he said. "Architects are like canaries in a coal mine when it comes to the economy." Most of the 110 employees in the company's offices in Tulsa at 1 W. Third St; Tampa, Fla.; Irvine, Calif.; Dallas; and Phoenix were laid off. A skeleton crew will remain to connect clients with other architectural firms and help former employees find jobs.

Architect Lagrange's Firm Files For Bankruptcy; Lucien Lagrange Himself To Retire.
Jul 16, 2010 1:00 pm US/Central
Renowned Chicago architect Lucien Lagrange is retiring and his firm is filing for bankruptcy. Among the projects in which architect Lucien Lagrange was involved was the renovation of the Blackstone Hotel at Michigan and Balboa avenues. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Friday that Lagrange's firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to debts of between $1 million and $10 million. Lagrange told the newspaper that he had run into financial trouble because he is owed more than $1 million for a project in Saudi Arabia that has not been built. Lagrange was the go-to guy for several buildings in Chicago, most of them upper-bracket condo towers. Among them is the Park Tower with its Hyatt Hotel and luxury condos at 800 N. Michigan Ave., which became the city's 11th tallest building when it was completed in 2000.

And, from across the Atlantic Ocean ....

Prominent architectural firm, Murray O’Laoire Architects, closes
By Ciara O’BRIEN, Friday, March 26, 2010
One of Ireland's best-known architectural firms Murray Ó Laoire has gone into liquidation, with the loss of more than 120 jobs. The company cited cumulative bad debts, the difficult market and problems in getting paid on time for the collapse of the business. "The firm is unable to meet its current financial obligations as a result of cumulative bad debts and the ongoing difficulty of securing profitable work as well as the increasing difficulties in getting paid on time, or at all," it said in a statement. Murray Ó Laoire has offices in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Slovakia, Russia, Germany, Libya, Barbados and Abu Dhabi. The company employs 127 people, with the majority of its staff based in Ireland. All offices will be shut as the firm goes into liquidation, including its design and the international subsidiaries. A creditors' meeting will be held in the coming days. In September Murray Ó Laoire let 40 of its staff go, as the slowdown in the building sector affected its business.

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