Over 300 professionals and students from design, health and relief organizations gathered in December at New York's Van Alen Institute to honor the finalists of an international design initiative to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa that was launched by Architecture for Humanity. Designers were challenged to develop schemes for a fully-equipped, mobile medical unit and HIV/AIDS treatment center that could be used for testing, prevention and treatment of the disease, as well as to provide basic healthcare services.
More than 530 teams representing 51 nations answered the call. An international jury of architects and medical professionals met in New York to select four finalists and eight honorary mentions. The finalists included a professional firm from Denmark; a team of students from Troy, NY; faculty members at the University of Dortmund, Germany; and two young architects from Paris, France. Unlike other design competitions where a cash prize is awarded, Architecture for Humanity and exhibition sponsor Virgin Atlantic gave the winning designers an opportunity to develop and refine their ideas into working prototypes. Virgin Atlantic donated flights to South Africa, allowing every team member from the four teams to meet for a one-week workshop with African-based architects, doctors and NGOs.
Cameron Sinclair, executive director of Architecture for Humanity, said that money raised from the $35 submission fee (waived for entries from developing countries), donations and additional fundraising activities will be used to build one or more prototypes of the winning concepts. Once developed, it is hoped that refined versions of these cost-effective and mobile designs can be built for Africa and replicated in other regions around the world.
Modest Recovery Expected
The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association (BIFMA) International recently released the latest office furniture industry forecast prepared by the economic consulting organization, Global Insight (formerly DRI-WEFA). The forecast anticipates a 5.6 percent increase in shipments to $9.4 billion for 2003, as compared to $8.9 billion realized in 2002. Further improvement is expected in 2004 with shipments expected to top $10.5 billion.
The latest forecast assumes a short, but successful first-quarter altercation with Iraq will put a drag on first quarter economic activity. Once success is realized, economic confidence returns and a recover begins in earnest. A cautious corporate investment outlook and weak office construction will restrain office furniture shipments, while rebounding employment and corporate profits will stabilize demand and contribute to shipment growth in the second half of 2003.
After-tax corporate profit growth is expected to accelerate in 2003, but not at the pace or to the level expected just three months ago. Stronger business sentiment and an improved business investment climate should contribute to more vigorous profit recovery in 2004. Likewise, service-sector employment has recovered somewhat, and growth is expected to continue through 2004. However, employment growth will not reach the rate that characterized the late '90s, limiting its upside contribution to office furniture demand during the next few years.
Established in 1973, BIFMA International is a non-profit trade association of furniture manufacturers and suppliers addressing issues of common concern.
Healthcare, Housing Are Hottest Markets
Healthcare and housing are forecast to be among the hottest markets for design and construction firms in 2003. Other markets expected to be hot in 2003 are K-12 schools and water and wastewater. This is one of the findings included in 2003 AEC Industry Outlook, a new report from ZweigWhite.
According to the report, the strong residential construction market should continue into 2003. With mortgage rates bottoming out, residential construction may be hard-pressed to match the record levels achieved in 2002, but it should maintain its high level of activity. High-end single-family, multi-family for sale, and senior housing segments should be especially strong in 2003.
Healthcare construction, coming off an excellent 2002, is also expected to continue to do well in 2003, particularly with larger projects. "The needs are high, money isn't as scarce as it is in some sectors, and private healthcare organizations aren't as negatively influenced by a down economy and stock market as other markets," says Jerry Guerra, author of the report.
The 2003 AEC Industry Outlook is available from ZweigWhite for $125, plus $4 shipping and handling. For information, call (508) 651-1559 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Zweig-White is a source of management consulting, information and education for the design and construction industry.