If there ever was a year of living dangerously, 2009 was it. In the aftermath of the economic crash, residential architect’s January/February 2009 issue featured “Word on the Street,” a snapshot of how 10 firms were coping with dwindling projects and budgets. As they girded for the worst, most firms painfully pared staff and slashed expenses.

As a new year begins, we checked in to see how those architects fared in 2009 and how they see 2010 shaping up. All made tough decisions and survived what was likely the worst year of their careers, but they lamented the breakup of talented teams, networks, and business relationships. Some firms have moved from holding on to holding steady, and there are incremental increases in activity.

Consumer confidence is up, judging by a perkier custom home market. Until lending thaws, though, few foresee a quick uptick in developer-led projects for 2010. Architects are starting to exhale, but their fingers are still crossed.