Architectural Project Reports Show No Sign of Slowing Down Through March : COVID-19
Feature Photo (above): Construction workers gather to celebrate the topping out of the AMLI Fountain Place tower in downtown Dallas, May 2019. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — Architectural firms showed no sign of slowing their production through the month of March, as indicated by reports submitted to the state of Texas.
If anything, there was a slight uptick in the fourth week of March compared to the first three weeks.
A Virtual Builders Exchange analysis of activity during each work week in the month of March (from the 2nd to 29th, excluding weekends) showed that architects submitted a daily average of 68.75 “Project Registered” reports to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.
However, during the final full week of the month, (March 23-27), the daily average rose to 77.2 reports.
Daily Activity of new projects registered with TDLR. *Projects registered on weekends–of which there were very few– were deleted from the chart to avoid skewing the graph line.
Governor Greg Abbott issued a corona virus disaster declaration March 13 and between March 20-25 the mayors of the largest cities in Texas (Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Austin) issued emergency shelter-in-place orders.
Nevertheless, architects and engineers preparing construction documents do not appear to have put the brakes on the pipeline of future projects. This is a positive sign in what otherwise has been a gloomy couple of weeks. While there has been a significant rise in temporary work freezes, the continuation of design work promises to provide a bank of pent-up deliverables once the industry comes out the other end of this pandemic.
The weekly totals of projects registered were:
303 for March 2-8
348 for March 9-15
348 for March 16-22
396 for March 23-29
On Monday, March 30, architects registered 77 new projects that had a construction start date that began somewhere between this week and the month of September. More than half (47 of the 77 projects) had an estimated construction start date that begins on or after May 1.
To get a sense of the ratio of New Construction projects versus Renovation/Alteration & Addition to existing building projects, VBX looked at the week of March 23-29. In that week, there were about 119 New Construction projects versus 277 Renovation/Alteration & Addition projects. That is a 30% to 70% apportionment.
There’s been a deluge of bad news lately, but in looking at the numbers we did notice one serendipitous event. Thanks to the growing popularity of home delivery, there was a trend that started last fall of grocery chains (mainly Target and HEB) ordering minor renovations to provide curbside delivery. It was coincidental, but that certainly helped grocers to be prepared for customers who would prefer avoiding push carts and strolls inside the stores.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.