Bubil: Architects looking for help


We in the real estate media are hooked on what we call “leading indicators.”

These include the number of building permits pulled, the number of houses on which construction has begun, the number of home resales.

An indicator that is largely ignored is the American Institute of Architects’ billings index.

Although housing starts have cooled of late across the country, the billings index is increasing, which could mean good things for construction of houses, apartment buildings and condominiums, and commercial structures in the coming months.

“We are busy,” said John Bryant of Sweet Sparkman Architects in Sarasota. “We have a lot of residential work going on, and we are doing a new wing at Fruitville Elementary.

“My colleagues on the AIA board seem to be pretty slammed at work,” added Bryant, who is president of the local chapter of the AIA. “I am hearing that firms can’t find anyone to fill jobs and are trying to get the best graduates out of architecture school.”

Demand for architectural services had been declining in recent months, but the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) went positive in May.

“The ABI reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending,” according to the AIA.

The May ABI score was 52.6, up sharply from 49.6 in April. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The score for design contracts was 52.5 in May.

“Volatility continues to be the watchword in the design and construction markets, with firms in some regions of the country, and serving some sectors of the industry, reporting strong growth, while others are indicating continued weakness,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker. “Overall, it appears that activity has recovered from the winter slump.”

The South region led the nation with an ABI of 58.1.

Lundy film is Thursday

The Sarasota Architectural Foundation will present the documentary film “Victor Lundy: Sculptor of Space” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Burns Court Cinema, 506 Burns Court, Sarasota.

Produced by the General Services Administration, the movie documents the career of Lundy, a Houston resident who began his career in the 1950s in Sarasota.

A panel discussion will follow, featuring Carl Abbott and John Howey, both fellows of the AIA, and Christopher Wilson, history professor at Ringling College.

Lundy, 91, practiced in Sarasota between 1953 and 1960 and is one of the founding members of the Sarasota school of architecture.

Lundy designed the U.S. Tax Court building in Washington, D.C., for the GSA in 1965.

Lundy was known for designing artistic spaces that were “more roof than wall.”

“I try to make architecture say something boldly, clearly, simply,” said Lundy in the film.

Tickets are $10 for SAF members, $15 for nonmembers and $5 for students. Seating is limited. Register online at SAF-SRQ.org.

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: June 21, 2014
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.