The financial crisis has led to the cancellation of spectacular construction projects in the previously booming metropolises of Dubai, Moscow and Abu Dhabi. Does the demise of overblown architecture spell an opportunity for sustainable building? They were certainly heady years. In cities like Shanghai, Moscow and Dubai, the urban landscape was re-invented at breakneck speed. Revolving construction cranes dominated skylines and economic growth was measured in the number of stories a building had. It was a high-stakes gamble involving money, steel and glass. Every new building was supposed to a superlative, so that it could serve as visible proof of enormous economic power. Yearnings for pomp and prestige were transformed into architecture. Some designs were reminiscent of perfume bottles, others of rockets. But now the enormous real estate bubble of the sheikhs, oligarchs and neo-capitalist financiers has burst. The international economic crisis has caught up with the nouveau-riche high flyers in the Middle East and Asia who, until recently, had gloatingly watched the collapse of the West, where one skyscraper project after the next has been abandoned. But now the brakes are also being put on one construction project after another in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Russia. To read more about the international canceled projects, go to http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,601523,00.html
Leaders in professional practices should be asking the following seven questions today. These will set the stage for a future beyond the economic dilemmas of today.
1. How does what my organization provides improve clients’ lives? Think deeply about the overt value of your services. Better, easier, smoother, happier, more peaceful, more economical — these are things people want. Can they get them from you?
2. Do my clients want less today — really? Or do they actually want more than you think they do? It is during economic down cycles that you should offer wide as well as deep services. Change to match your clients as they change. Recessions always give birth to new firms and organizations that are relevant to what’s new and what’s next.
3. Where do I want to be in three years? What’s next for your firm and in your own professional life? Most architects don’t aim too high and miss; they aim too low and hit. Stretch your thinking about potential personal and organizational futures.
4. Can I stretch a bit further? This question is the basis for many of today’s most successful professional practices. Are you just running in place? What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail? Never stop creating your future.
5. Do I value imagination over rationalization? For each situation, problem, or dilemma you face, ask a what-if rather than a who-did question.
6. Why are some firms nearly dead? Why is it that they have only an org chart and a set of financials? Where is the creativity? Don’t let the gravitational pull of life cycle take you down.
7. What am I doing about leadership development for myself? For the organization? You will likely find that in leadership development you will discover the most relevant energy and exciting strategies for your new future.
In order to read more about this story, visit http://www.di.net/articles/archive/2945/
In October, the Port Authority released a proposal for a major overhaul aimed at giving the terminal improved services and a lot more retail space. More recently, local political leaders, current retail tenants, and members of the preservation community have sought to influence the redesign, even as the Port Authority plans to begin construction late this year. “Our aim is to provide a better retail experience for people who live in the Washington Heights area,” said Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman. The plan as originally announced called for the relocation of several of the small retailers presently on site; after a mid-November meeting with community leaders, the Port Authority revised and clarified that plan, stating that rather than a single big box anchor, a number of new stores would occupy the renovated facility. To read move, go to http://archpaper.com/e-board_rev.asp?News_ID=3092
Harvard ended 2008 a little less rich. The world’s wealthiest university announced in December that its endowment had shrunk from $36.9 billion to $28.8 billion during the second half of the year. In light of that asset plunge and the general economic malaise, the school is reconsidering the scope and timing of its ambitious expansion plans. Even the 1-million-square-foot, $1 billion science complex designed by Behnisch Architekten, already under construction and originally slated for completion in 2011, is under the microscope, according to spokesman Joshua Poupore. Harvard’s dilemma reflects the hard reality that universities and other non-profits, until recently the most recession-proof consumers of design and construction services, are cutting back. To read more about this story, visit http://archrecord.construction.com/news/daily/archives/090109recession.asp