Times are good for architects and engineers, according to ZweigWhite. In its “2006 Fee & Billing Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms,” the Chicago-based consulting and research group finds that the median profit margin at architecture and engineering companies is at its highest point since 2001, rising to 12.5 percent from 11.1 percent.

More good news: The AIA's Architecture Billings Index for August jumped to its highest mark since July 2005, rising to 59.5 from the previous month's mark of 51.8 (any score over 50 indicates an increase in billings). Broken down by sector, commercial and industrial projects led the way with a score of 61.4.

Washington University in St. Louis has named Bruce Lindsey, the Paul Rudolph Professor of Architecture at Auburn University, dean of the College of Architecture and the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design. Lindsey will start his new position on Nov. 10.

Aaron Betsky has been named director of the Cincinnati Art Museum and will assume his new post on Nov. 21. Betsky had been the director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, located in Rotterdam, since 2000.

Qingyun Ma, founder and design principal of the Shanghai, China, architecture firm MADA s.p.a.m., will be the new dean of the University of Southern California School of Architecture, effective Jan. 1. Ma has previously been a visiting professor at Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University in the United States, as well as at several European universities and institutes.

The Urban Land Institute has awarded Peter Calthorpe, principal of Calthorpe Associates in Berkeley, Calif., and a co-founder of the Congress for New Urbanism, the 2006 J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development. The $100,000 prize is given to a person whose career demonstrates a commitment to the highest standards of responsible development. Calthorpe is the first architect to receive the award.

A recent report from The Brookings Institution examines how land use is regulated in America's 50 largest metropolitan areas: The Northeast and Midwest generally use regulations to exclude growth, while the West uses regulations to accommodate and manage growth. In Texas, the report says, metro areas have “a regulatory order of their own … [and] an unparalleled openness to growth and development.”

The fall issue of Catalyst, a magazine for Atlanta's small- and midsize-business community, lists two architecture firms among its Top 50 Entrepreneurs for 2006. Brown Doane Architects was No. 4, and Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates came in at No. 22. All of the companies on the list, which ranks according to sales revenue growth, reported 2005 revenue of between $5 million and $200 million.

Architecture and planning firm Ayers/Saint/Gross received a design award in October from the Baltimore chapter of the AIA for the master plan it developed for Long Beach, Miss. The design, by Dhiru Thadani, director of the firm's town planning studio in Washington, D.C., was created as part of the Mississippi Renewal Forum, a post–Hurricane Katrina redevelopment charette.

In early October, Philadelphia Mayor John Street appointed architect and urban planner Janice Woodcock as executive director of the City Planning Commission, a Cabinet-level post. Woodcock, a past president of the Philadelphia chapter of the AIA, has worked as a project director for the city's Capital Program Office since 2004.