Cusato draws a sharp contrast between today's exiles from Wall Street—whose careers there may well be finished, given the implosion of high finance—and out-of-work architects. However bad the recession gets, "there will still be buildings. The job still exists," she points out.
Intern architect Cheung's career has already bounced back. A mere three weeks after losing her job with the restaurant and residential design firm, she was hired by a firm that had just landed several hotel projects in China. The new job "has been really busy," she says. "Like till 11 at night every day."
Fredlund in Minnesota hasn't given up hope. "When the banks start to release their money, and companies are getting confident they can expand, it's going to come back hard. Really hard," he predicts. In mid-January, he had two promising interviews, one for a sales job with a building products manufacturer, the other to be an owner's rep. He looks forward to early next year, when?fingers crossed?he should be able to get started on a $5 million church project. The contract is signed and in his pocket. The church just needs to raise more money.
Several people who were interviewed for this article asked ARCHITECT not to name their former employers so they might maintain good relationships with them, and so as not to alarm current and potential clients. The editors have complied with this request.
FIRMS FEEL THE SQUEEZE (AND CLAM UP)
Just before the February issue went to press, we contacted 15 prominent firms to ask how they're withstanding the economic storm?and whether they've "adjusted their staffing," to use the current euphemism. Most wouldn't talk. ("You may not speak to anyone," said a helpful staffer at Gehry Partners in Los Angeles—before ARCHITECT's name was even mentioned.) A few firms, however, did agree to submit statements.
"Historically, Moody•Nolan's strongest markets have been higher education, healthcare, and government/institutional. Fortunately, these have been the least impacted by the downturn in the economy. Consquently, our staffing has remained stable, and in fact has grown slightly, during the past six months."
"As concerns our staffing levels, Cannon Design has not experienced layoffs to date directly related to the economic environment, merely the normal fluctuations that reflect staff resignations, recruitments, and performance deficiencies to be expected in a firm of over 800 people."
"We haven't had to lay anybody off. We've been very fortunate and continue to be fortunate."
Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects
"Although these are challenging times, this is also a period of opportunity for our firm. ... We have thus responded to the economic downturn aggressively, expanding our marketing efforts, improving our internal operations, and focusing continuously on delivering quality work for our clients, many of whom have been loyal to our firm through similarly difficult times."
EMPLOYMENT UPDATES FROM THE ARCHITECTS
Paul Johnson (as of Feb. 20):
I just started a temporary drafting position at a pipe detailing company. They somehow have plenty of work and I am grateful to help. I am still searching for something in an architectural firm, though. I tried several out-of-state firms, but realized pretty quickly that even outside of Arizona, jobs are very scarce. I have had a few more interviews, but again, the available positions hinge on the illusive next project. I have had one seasoned [local] architect approach me about a partnership in his very small firm. He contacted me after I emailed him with my mini portfolio and resume.For the most part, though, things are the same as they were when we talked last. I am hoping that this new drafting position along with my side work will bridge us into a full time, more suitable position ... and I am remaining optimistic. This whole thing has been a huge learning experience ... and while I wouldn't wish it on anyone, I actually feel that it has been a positive experience.
Larry Fredlund (as of Feb. 21):
[Fredlund has started a job as a sales rep for Pella.] In this newly created Architectural Sales Rep. position, my job is to work directly with architects so they understand Pella a little better and understand the pros and cons of various window types and manufacturers, to help them write or review specifications when needed, and, where called on, to help contractors and sales reps get permission to bid Pella on projects where an architect or designer is leading. ... Please consider spreading the word to your architect contacts ... Larry is at Pella as a resource for them.
Fredlund can be reached at email@example.com.
Michelle Krochmal (as of Feb. 23):
I've had a few interviews and am waiting to hear back from a couple of companies. However, I have a personal project moving forward that is keeping me very busy. I am buying a fixer upper house with my husband. I am currently working on the architectural drawings for the house. It should be done this summer. For the time being, I am going to continue searching for a part-time job only. However, if a really interesting position comes in, I will of course apply for it regardless.
Scott Gustafson (as of March 2):
I started at a new job on the 19th in Denver. The firm is called JoeArchitect (www.joearchitect.com). I had interviewed with them in November. They primarily do dental offices (and very nice ones I think) but also do other residential and commercial projects.