Return to site home page


Slow, Steady Growth Expected



Slow, Steady Growth Expected

A new research report published by ZweigWhite forecasts that the design and construction industry will grow at a slower pace overall than the general economy in 2004.

"The design and construction industry typically does not adhere strictly to the growth curves of the overall economy," says Jerry Guerra, author of 2004 AEC industry Outlook: Strategy and Insight for Design & Construction Firms. "The Census Bureau tells us that the value of total construction put in place grew in 2001 and 2002, despite all the turmoil of the general economy. And it appears as if 2003 will end up as another year of small gains for the industry, with growth of total construction in the one to two percent range."

But while conditions are improving markedly for the overall economy, it will take some time before architecture, engineering and construction firms fully realize the effects of that improvement as a whole, Guerra says. The report notes that the Congressional Budget Office predicts a nearly four percent increase in the Gross Domestic Product during calendar 2004. However, the design and construction industry is likely to see another year of one to two percent growth.

"Industry analysts expect the design and construction industry to be healthy overall in 2004, but a number of factors are likely to restrain the industry's growth," Guerra says. "Hot markets in recent years, such as single- family housing and education construction, may cool off slightly in 2004. Meanwhile, it's going to take time for struggling markets such as manufacturing and office buildings to fully recover, particularly if the pace of employment growth doesn't pick up."

The 2004 AEC Industry Outlook reports that the general tenor of the design and construction industry is one of optimism heading into 2004. In an exclusive survey conducted in conjunction with the American Council of Engineering Companies for the 2004 report, more than two-thirds of AEC firm leaders said they believe that the worst of the economic downturn has passed. For an industry that has seen some sectors post record-breaking numbers in the midst of an economy recovering from recession, that optimism seems well founded.

An executive summary of the report, which details the report's answers to 10 pressing questions that the design and construction industry faces in 2004, is available by contacting Wendy Wagner at:

Emotion Key in Hospitality Design

While such factors as price and location are important to the hospitality industry, the emotional aspect of staying at a memorable hotel or resort appears to be one of the most critical elements in a project's success, according to a survey of hospitality industry participants.

The survey of 250 industry executives, consultants and suppliers, by the Irvine, CA-based interior design firm of Style Interior Design, Inc., underscores the importance of emotion in terms of what people see, feel and touch when they stay at a hotel, resort or other hospitality property.

Greg Currens, principal of Style Interior Design, said that while the survey (developed by Eliant, Inc.) was not intended to be a scientific sampling, it does point to some interesting thoughts and ideas that industry leaders have about the industry's current status and future trends.

  • Memorable Experience: When asked which single factor was most important in designing a hospitality property today, the largest percentage (53 percent) of respondents agreed that "memorable experience" was extremely important, putting it at the top of the list of numerous factors cited.

  • Renovating/Designing Hospitality Properties: When asked about renovations, respondents said the most important area in which to spend money was upgrading guestrooms (55 percent), followed by upgrading public spaces (42 percent), improving or adding restaurants (31 percent), adding or improving a business center (16 percent), and adding or improving a fitness center (14 percent).

    The most important reason for renovating a property, according to the respondents, is to create a property that is more competitive (54 percent), followed by attracting a new market segment such as younger guests (39 percent), updating the exterior and interior (34 percent), and increasing market share (31 percent).

    When queried about the importance of various features (i.e. "selling points") of a hospitality facility when it comes to designing these facilities, memorable experience topped the list with 53 percent citing it as extremely important. Second was security with 51 percent saying it is extremely important, followed by amenities/services with 46 percent, technology (36 percent), and privacy (31 percent).

    When asked where they would specifically spend money on designing a hotel or resort, 61 percent of those surveyed said the lobby, followed by guestrooms (50 percent), overall aesthetics (26 percent) and restaurant (15 percent).

  • Future Growth: When asked which market segments were most important to the hospitality industry's growth, 53 percent pointed to the younger generation, followed by 43 percent who thought it was empty nesters. Surprisingly, only 14 percent cited families as an important market segment for future growth.

    Asked which segment of the hospitality industry they thought would most likely grow over the next two years, 33 percent of the respondents said hotels, followed by spa/health facility (28 percent), resorts (24 percent) and timeshares (23 percent). On the flip side, when asked which segments may stagnate or decline in size, 33 percent cited country/private clubs, followed by timeshares with 32 percent, hotels with 15 percent and spa/health facility with 13 percent.
    Internet Message Board Launches

    A new Internet message board targeted for the office furniture industry launched in January, designed to give industry professionals a place to help each other and share knowledge. The Office Furniture Forum (OFF) Web site is the brainchild of Cate Sword, IIDA, principal of Cate Sword Consulting + Design. Cate Sword is a 20-year industry veteran specializing in training software and interior design.

    "I saw a need for users to come together and help each other. A few of us put in some brainstorm time and saw the Internet message board fulfilling that need perfectly," Cate said.

    The OFF message board is users helping users to better understand the industry and the tools that make it work. Office furniture industry professionals include interior designers, project managers, sales staff, users and technical support staff of AutoCAD, 20-20 products (CAP, Giza or Office), Project Matrix, Midnight Oil, Accelerate, Vspec, AccuRender and other office furniture software suites.

    The Web site is independent from any manufacturer and does not allow advertising. Industry professionals are not required to pay any fees associated with the OFF message board.

    You can visit the Office Furniture Forum at: http://office; or e-mail: and ask for more details.
    ASID Launches Interiors '04

    Interiors '04: The ASID Conference on Design will be held March 4 to 7, 2004, at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, Savannah, GA. Open to all designers of the built environment, the conference "represents a leap ahead for ASID in terms of the society's educational programming," said ASID president Linda Elliott Smith, FASID. "Interiors '04 builds upon the successes of past annual conferences, but offers a wider range of educational sessions of interest to all members of the design community. We invite all designers, not just ASID members, to attend, share knowledge and celebrate design of every kind."

    More than 60 experts will address current, significant issues within six professional tracks: business of design, design practice, design specialties, security/privacy, sustainable design and universal design. Conference highlights also include keynotes by visionaries of the design world, ASID's annual awards gala, the ASID/Southern Accents Residential Awards Breakfast and educational tours exploring the richness of Savannah design and culture.

    Interiors '04 is being sponsored by ASID Industry Partners: the Carpet and Rug Institute, Lutron®, Monarch Billiards, Sherwin-Williams, Viking® Range Co. and Vista® Window Films. For more information, visit: or e-mail: