Contract - September 2009 - (Page 14)

editorial Jennifer Thiele Busch Editor in Chief how are you managing? By the year 2000, the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, N.Y., designed by Charles A. Platt in 1931, had squeezed in 15 full or partial floors, had books permanently stored on mobile carts, had no tables or chairs in the children’s area, and didn’t comply with ADA requirements at all. Yet that year, the residents of this town just south of Lake George voted down a bond referendum to renovate the building. In 2005, the library tried again to gain approval for a renovation and expansion and succeeded, but it did not come without tremendous outreach efforts by the library. Director Christine McDonald is convinced that the real reason the bond referendum passed the second time was because a broken boiler caused the library to go without heat from May to November. The year 2005 was still heady economic times, when personal financial investments were at peak values and the American dream of home ownership was in reach of just about everyone. So you can imagine how hard it is today to get the approval or funding to get something built in the civic arena when the economy has turned many of us from princes to paupers almost overnight. Nevermind. You don’t have to imagine, because you live the reality every day. And that reality goes well beyond civic projects to the corporate, retail, hospitality, education, and healthcare markets, though the latter two sectors have been more stable and active than most in these troubled times. We all continue to feel the weight of an industry in economic distress—which just so happens to mirror the experiences of almost every other industry out there. 14 contract september 2009 So how are you managing? In a recent conversation with a well-known carpet industry executive, he explained it this way: In times like these, the first thing to go is marketing (even though it should be the last), and the second to go is T&E. The third, he noted, is the thing that really matters: People. I think I would be hard-pressed to find any organization out there that has not experienced some or all of these losses first hand. There was a period between February and June when e-mails to the magazine were coming with alarming regularity: “I’ve been laid off. Please let me know if you hear of any job openings anywhere.” As if. But are things looking up? From what I see, the panic from Q1 was replaced by resignation in Q2, which gave way to resolve as Q3 draws to a close. As we move into the final quarter of the year, many of you, like the economic pundits in general, are beginning to express the slightest hint of optimism for a better year in 2010, and at the very least, are not expecting things to get much worse. The slightly brighter outlook, it should be noted, is not yet the result of an increase in business, but reflects an increase in inquiries, based on anecdotal evidence as well as statistics extrapolated from the AIA’s monthly Architectural Billings Index, which shows the level of project inquiries up over the last five consecutive months (though down again slightly in July). Whatever 2010 and beyond brings, we are going to have to meet a very different world as a very changed industry, in theory and practice. I would be interested in hearing how Contract’s readers are approaching their own metamorphosis. Drop me an e-mail at, and tell me what your firm is doing to meet the challenges of this difficult time and how you are strategizing for the future. We could all learn something from these shared observations and experiences. The imperative for change also extends to design journalism, and here at Contract we will meet the challenge with an increasing emphasis on viewing ourselves not as simply a magazine, but as a media brand that incorporates a shifting balance between print and online content delivery. This process has already begun, and for those of you who have not visited our Web site,, an ever-expanding range of original content, as well as a pretty cool digital version of the magazine, awaits you there. You can also read our blog at and sign up to receive Twitter alerts on new content posts and industry news at The renovation and expansion of the Crandall Public Library by Ann Beha Associates was finally completed in late 2008. The results have served the library well and can be seen on the design section of our Web site and in the digital magazine at Submit a Letter to the Editor at

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - September 2009

Contract - September 2009
Don’t Judge A Floor By Its Cover
Smart Workstations
Green Collar Jobs On The Rise
From Castle to Treasury
Make Me A Star
Green Apple
A Different Ball Game
Creative Energy
Quiet Riot
Books Stored
Reading Room
Designers Rate: Casegoods
Ad Index

Contract - September 2009