The economy has been hammering architects for a year, and now it’s the AIA that is showing the strain of the recession. The American Institute of Architects announced today that it is eliminating 33 staff positions, or 15 percent of its 203 employees, in the offices of its national headquarters, in Washington, D.C. Institute officers did not grant an interview about the staff reductions but released a general statement.

The decision came after the AIA’s board of directors began planning its 2010 budget. The institute’s revenue has dropped by 20 percent since 2008. In July, the board began drafting a new strategic plan, which solidified into a set of planning moves in September.

The statement issued today is rather oblique, stating that “our reserves are strong” and that the institute expects to continue with its mission of serving members. The areas in which staff were trimmed aren’t specified, nor are the areas where 13 new positions are to be added next year to “focus on key priorities.”

Most of the reductions came in the form of layoffs among active staff, with a few dormant positions in the mix, said Phil Simon, an AIA spokesman. The national AIA offices has not yet had layoffs in 2009, though it did have two weeklong furloughs earlier in the year.