More ripples from the building slump
Carl Luckenbach is one of the best known and busiest local architects. In recent years, his firm designed three new Ann Arbor District Library branches, the South Forest parking structure, and the planned underground parking structure next to the main library. Yet after his contract to design a new main library was canceled last winter, "there just wasn't enough work to keep everybody busy," he says. So in May he laid off his entire eight-person staff, then rehired five "on a more flexible basis. They all know if we run out of work, they may be furloughed off for a time."
"In the commercial and office [sectors], there's not much work," agrees architect Mark Rueter, "and residential has all but dried up." But at least one local architectural firm can count its blessings. "We've been lucky because we specialize in renovating existing buildings," says Mike Quinn of Quinn Evans. The firm has landed two jobs, renovating a library in San Francisco and a courthouse in Alabama, that are getting federal stimulus money.
Still, Quinn takes nothing for granted. "We've had a longer run of good times than normal," he says. "We expect a longer recession than normal."
[Originally published in August, 2009.]