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Architects: region will bounce back strong

Many in the industry are confident in a solid pipeline of projects.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. February 18, 2021
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As a group, Tampa Bay area architects feel pretty good about the regional development-related economy for 2021.

The industry confidence is particularly relevant because architects are often brought in early in the development process, with projects often being completed one to three years after the architecture firm begins work. The optimism, displayed in the AIA Tampa Bay’s Voice of Architecture Economic Outlook 2021 survey, is tempered only by multiple comments from respondents lamenting the myriad work from home challenges.

Chief among those concerns is the loss of creativity — in a creative field — that stems from working in isolation. “Although we have functioned efficiently working remotely, as a senior architect, I am concerned that mentoring of younger staff is not occurring as it should,” one respondent wrote in the comment section, summing up a few other responses. “Architectural design is a ‘team sport’ and that has been made more challenging with the remove work environment.”

While that issue lingers, industry executives believe there will be a strong pipeline of development projects, particularly in the health care and industrial sectors. “Niche health services, like cancer treatment centers and clinics, halted new construction,” wrote one survey respondent, “but existing and new hospital projects have sprouted and have given us a nice backlog to coast steadily."

Demand will be lower somewhat for projects involving office space and historic preservation, the survey reports, according to a statement. Hotel and related tourism projects might also be slow to come back. “A few of our larger hospitality projects have been put on hold,” wrote one respondent. “Projects that could have made us hire more people.”

Two key findings in the survey, sponsored by Hancock Whitney Bank, are in expected demand and the area’s development-related economy in 2021. On the former, 70% of respondents expect demand for architectural services in the region to increase in 2021. That’s down only 7 percentage points from last year’s pre-coronavirus predictions. On the latter, 71% believe the Tampa Bay development-related economy will be “excellent” or “good,” with only 29% forecasting it will be “fair,” the report states. No respondent predicted it will be “poor” or “very poor.”

Of the 104 architect-respondents in the survey, 85% were either principals or managers. “Most architects will be extremely busy this year, which points to significant construction-related growth well into 2022,” says Peter Hauerstein, president of the board for AIA Tampa Bay and an architect at Sol Design.  “The economy in the Tampa Bay area is proving to be much more resilient than in many other cities, and this is a great place to be an architect right now.”





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