The Architect Newswire is an aggregation of news from media outlets around the world, intended to keep you abreast of all of the industry’s important developments. The stories we feature are not reported, edited, or fact-checked by Architect’s staff. 

LOS ANGELES TIMES
Unemployment down

Unemployment news from the U.S. Department of Labor continues to improve. Jim Puzzanghera reports that last week’s 366,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance is the lowest figure since May 2008. “It looks like Christmas is coming after all this year for the economy,” Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi’s New York chief financial economist Chris Rupkey says. “Initial jobless claims have tumbled the last two weeks in a way that suggests more Americans are finding work.” Rupkey says that jobless rates for the past three months translate to a 3.5 percent annualized growth rate for the economy. In early 2009, more than 600,000 per week were filing for unemployment.

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INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES
Fitch forecasts stable 2012

Fitch Ratings is forecasting a stable outlook with modest gains in construction during 2012. Roland Li reports that residential housing starts should increase by 6.7 percent and commercial construction should grow by 4 percent. Public construction spending will be flat as the 2009 stimulus spending comes to an end. “Prices for raw building materials are expected to remain high, but not increase,” Li writes.

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LAWRENCE JOURNAL WORLD (KS)
Lawrence heading for low

Lawrence, Kan., has been maintaining building permit records since 1956—and has never seen a year with fewer than 100 new single-family homes start construction. Chad Lawhorn reports that may change, since only 89 permits have been issued through November. That’s 35 percent lower than 2010. The worst years on record are 2008 with 102 units and 2009 with 110 units. Apartment construction is another story—with 2011’s 355 units under construction well ahead of the 220 units permitted in 2010. Construction value has also been up—totaling $100.6 million in 2011 versus $80.7 million a year earlier.

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MOUNTAIN VIEW VOICE (CA)
Google pays for planning staff

Internet behemoth Google is expanding so fast that they’re paying Mountain View, Calif., $255,000 so the city can hire enough planning staff to keep their projects moving along. Daniel DeBolt reports that the City Council approved the acceptance of that figure by a 6-1 vote, with only Mayor Jac Siegel dissenting. “I read it first thinking, no offense to Google, but you're buying our town, putting people in our city hall,” Siegel says. “What happens when next week Synopsis comes in and says, ‘I want to give you money?’ ” Google projects slated for next year include a new 18-acre campus and numerous smaller projects. “You pick any office building out there and they are probably doing improvements,” planning director Randy Tsuda says.

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NAPLES DAILY NEWS (FL)
Architects chosen for Chico’s office building

Locally based Gora/McGahey Architects will design a new office building for Chico’s FAS at their 60-acre headquarters campus in Fort Meyers, Fla. The Naples Daily News reports that the Florida Green Building Coalition will certify the 140,000-square-foot office building under their Green Commercial Building Standard.

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THE NEW YORK OBSERVER
Foursquare’s new offices under way

Location-based Internet company Foursquare has begun construction on a new 56,000-square-foot space in New York City’s SoHo. Daniel Edward Rosen reports that Echo Design + Architecture is designing the offices, which will use Foursquare’s “badge” as a theme to “reflect the corporate identity,” according to architect Ajay Chopra. “The badges represent Foursquare’s identity in many ways, and we sort of captured that through the space,” Chopra says.

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TAMPA BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL (FL)
Rojo Architecture hires

Tampa, Fla.–based Rojo Architecture has added three new staff. Mark Holan reports that Jose Calle and John Greenland will be new project managers while Jamie Inskeep will work in corporate and hospitality interior design. “While we are busy working, there is still growth necessary to confirm the recession is over,” principal Jonathan Moore says. “We’re happy for our growth and we are hopeful for market improvements in 2012.”

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ROCHESTER BUSINESS JOURNAL (NY)
Gardner PLUS’ new VP

Rochester, N.Y.–based Gardner PLUS Architects has promoted Todd Martin from senior project manager to vice president. Troy L. Smith reports that the 25-year career veteran has been at the firm since 2003. “The continued growth and longevity of our firm is a pledge to our clients,” firm president Dave Gardner says. “Our commitment is not just for one project. Rather it is to build a partnership that will last and evolve like the buildings we create. I have chosen Todd to continue and honor that pledge.”

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SMART PLANET
Michael Graves reworks hospital rooms

The 2012 Richard H. Driehaus Prize winner, Michael Graves, is applying his design savvy to medical environments. Sun Joo Kim reports that he’s also using his own knowledge of hospitals gained while spending months in hospitals dealing with his sudden paralysis starting in 2003. “They didn’t make big mistakes,” Graves says. “They just made the most frustrating mistakes you could ever imagine and made your cure more difficult. Your room should make it easier for the doctors and the aides and the patient. But instead it does just the opposite.” His line of products for Stryker aims to change that.

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CURBED NY
Breaking NYC’s grid

The Architectural League’s Gregory Wessner spoke at The Museum of the City of New York before a panel that selected finalists for an ideas competition, called “The Unfinished Grid.” Dave Hogarty reports that “Wessner pointed out that the establishment of the 1811 Manhattan grid plan predated skyscrapers, subways, and automobile traffic—all things that are today integral to Manhattan's identity. Eight finalists were chosen from more than 120 entries. They can be seem online or at the museum through April 15.

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