Wow, when will the AEC profession see the light of day again.

Wow, when will the AEC profession see the light of day again? At least during our professional careers.

Geesh, I don’t know about all of you. But I’ve been thru two economic downturns in my career before this, and thought those were long & bloody. I used to think the worst to date was back when Jimmy Carter ran us into the ground repeatedly. I had to work nights as a manager at a Burger King to keep my babies in diapers, most of the time my check from my day job at an architectural firm didn’t clear. I didn’t let that stop me, at least I somewhat of a job back then. To be even more real I was grateful for my night for that job, again at least it was a job and the checks cleared.

Other architects I knew back then, who where a lot more educated than me, a ton smarter than me were driving taxi cabs (Guess they were smarter than me :):)) and never returned to the profession. What a loss…

I fear this is going to be a lot worse, and I mean a lot worse. In the last 60 days due to the policies coming out of DC, I’ve lost over 50% of my retirement savings in our 401K. Just as it was going too really start and snow ball out because we had reached that level. Now with a ton of luck maybe we will recover just our losses in the next 10+ years, but I’m not holding out for that since it took twenty years save what I had.

The AEC profession is the first to feel the effects of a recession / depression and the last to recover, so if you do this for a living you really / really better love what you do. That and get a night job too if need be. I’ve been blessed this time around, and for the foreseeable future my family and I should be OK, but that does not mean I’m not planning for the worst.

All of us talk the talk of going Green, but now you may need actually to walk the walk. I know for some that will be impossible simply because you don’t want to face the facts. That being I don’t believe the worst or even close to the worst has happened yet.

I am an architect, and I know the things to come based on the foundations on which they are built.
Howard Roark, “The Fountainhead” Ayn Rand.
(Yea I know a lot of people don’t like Rand)

If you own your own home, and have a little land, think about a garden for veggies and maybe some fruit. Get into composting and other things our grandparents did, get into canning and cooking your own foods from scratch. I don’t know about you, but with just my wife and me, we spend over $50.00 a week just on fresh veggies from the grocery that we know are organic. That could add $200.00 a month to your pocket book. I know that is not a lot, but with other measures that can add up. Get away from the foods with chemicals in your food as much as possible. You need a healthy body to have the clear mind you are going to need to survive this. Plus you will feel tons better.

Look into alternative fuel sources like CNG, here in Illinois that may be a trick. Unless you are willing to convert essentially a brand new car, you are SOL. That or buy on new outright, if you can even find a CNG car. FYI, the cost of CNG is roughly 50% the cost of gasoline. To top that off if you really want to be green, keep in mind it is one of the cleanest fuels you can use. This need to be done, before the US dollar loses it value anymore; invest in “YOU” in this economy.

If you are going to hang tight & stay in this profession, be prepared to diversify professionally like you never thought of. Take the time to get up to speed on BIM & LEED’s. BIM is coming down the pike at ten times the speed that CADD did, and interestingly enough this time it is contractors and builder pushing it. That is a good thing because it tightens the relationship between the architect and the builder. Maybe a little less of us, versus them mentality.

To sum it up, I pray I’m full of crap and missing the boat completely about the economy, and we all will go back to living on credit and beyond our means next week.

Gregory

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