Top 250 Design Survey 2013 - October 2013

By Darius Helm

 

This year’s survey reveals clear signs of a strengthening of the commercial market, though it’s not across all sectors, and there’s still a sense that the market is fragile and nervous. But it looks like the low point has been passed, and the A&D community is starting to feel more optimistic about the projects coming down the pipeline.

From the colors and designs on display at this year’s NeoCon show in Chicago to the subtle shift in designers’ priorities, the general impression is that it’s time to stop hunkering down and get back to the business of designing commercial interiors. 

The corporate sector, which accounts for the bulk of commercial billings, has been strengthening for a couple of years, initially through tenant improvement projects and more recently through the owner occupied segment. While the jobs market may still be in limbo, corporate profits are painting a picture of a strengthening U.S. economy. Nevertheless, global factors are a bigger influence than in years past, and there’s still a lot of instability in the European Union and in parts of Asia.

SECTOR OVERVIEW
Reports from various commercial sectors and analysis from industry experts suggest that some sectors, like hospitality, healthcare and higher education, should be building momentum, but this year’s surveyed designers don’t appear to be backing that up. Most designers report that education projects are indeed up this year, but K-12 seems to be growing faster than higher education. 

Floor Focus asked designers about their top three projects of the last year, and the results show a 20% increase in large university projects, compared to an 85% increase in K-12 projects. One possible explanation is that publicly funded K-12 projects are known for their long timelines, and on top of that, it’s likely that projects stalled due to funding problems are starting to get on track again. So there may not be many new K-12 projects, but still a lot that were already in the pipeline when the public funding dried up.

This year’s designers, however, do appear to confirm that the owner-occupied corporate segment is doing fairly well, though large Fortune 500 projects are down 25% compared to this time last year. And tenant improvement jobs are down about 45%.

One market that has shown few signs of life in the last few years is retail store planning. Tighter household budgets have reduced disposable incomes, and families have been getting used to doing more with less, so the retail sector has shrunk accordingly. And even though unemployment numbers have fallen modestly, most Americans are not doing much better, so they’re not spending much more either. The last holiday season (December 2012) was lackluster at best, well below expectations, though large retail chains posted gains.

So the retail sector itself is a lot smaller, and there’s less square footage in need of renovation. But there’s only so long retailers can go without updating their looks. And this year, designers report an increase in retail jobs among their top projects, even though, across all projects, retail business is about flat. So it could be that those large retail chains that have made it through the recession, as the smaller independents have crumbled, may indeed be doing some renovations.

There do appear to be reasons for optimism going into this holiday season, with about 5% growth in retail cargo containers compared to this time last year, but these days even the use of the word “optimism” is met with more jaundiced stares than are politician’s promises, so we’ll just have to wait and see what the season brings.

As expected, designers report that government jobs are down, both overall and in large projects—large government projects are down 36% and total government billings are down even more, by about 55%. And with another three years of a lame duck administration, there’s unlikely to be any serious developments in government work.

The big surprise has been the healthcare sector. All of the demographics point to the need for new construction and renovation in healthcare, including hospitals, medical office buildings and clinics, and senior living. Senior living has been such a growth market that Floor Focus now looks at it separately from the acute care side of healthcare. 

However, the designers responding to this year’s survey seem to report that the healthcare sector is not as vibrant as one would expect. In top projects, healthcare is down over 13%, and, in terms of total billings, the rate of acute care business is no better than last year and senior living business is down significantly.

For the complete Design Survey results, see the October 2013 issue of Floor Focus Magazine. 

Copyright 2013 Floor Focus



Other Archived Articles

Consumer Sentiment Falls from January Peak   Full Article
Ann Arbor, MI, Feb. 13, 2015 -- Consumer sentiment declined in February after reaching an 11-year high in January, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index.

Mohawk Group Sponsors HPD Collaborative   Full Article
Calhoun, GA, Feb. 13, 2015 -- Mohawk Group said it has become part of a growing list of “Visionary” sponsors of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative.

Earthwerks Signs Distributor Longust   Full Article
Houston, TX, Feb. 13, 2015 -- EarthWerks said it has signed a distribution agreement with Longust Distributing, Inc. to cover the southwestern U.S.

NAHB Analyzes Data on Boomerang Millennials   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 13, 2015 -- A recent study of “Boomerang Millennials” may have important implications for this key demographic and what it means for the housing market, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Metroflor Names Langstaff Design Director   Full Article
Norwalk, CT, Feb. 13, 2015 – Metroflor Corp. said that Robert Langstaff has been named the company's first director of design.

More Designers, Architects Attend Surfaces   Full Article
Dallas, TX, Feb. 12, 2015 -- Informa Exhibitions U.S. said that attendance at this year's International Surface Event was comparable to the 2014 show.

Retail Sales Decline in January   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 12, 2015 -- Retail sales fell 0.8% last month, according to the Commerce Department.

Jobless Claims Edge Up Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 12, 2015 -- Initial applications for unemployment benefits last week rose 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000, the Labor Department said.

Milton Warman, Coloramic Tile Founder, Dies   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Feb. 12, 2015 -- Milton Warman, 92, founder of Coloramic Tile and Carpet Fair, died Feb. 7.

House Price Growth Steady in Most Markets   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 12, 2015 -- The majority of metropolitan areas experienced steady but slightly stronger price growth in the fourth quarter, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors.

Stonewood Floors Names Martin Senior Vice President   Full Article
Everett, WA, Feb. 11, 2015 -- Daniel Martin been named senior vice president for Stonewood Floors.

Mortgage Application Volume Declines Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 11, 2015 -- Mortgage applications last week decreased 9% from one week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

December Foreclosures Lowest Since 2007   Full Article
Irvine, CA, Feb. 11, 2015 -- There were 39,000 completed foreclosures nationwide in December, according to real estate information firm CoreLogic.

Nydree Expands Distribution Agreement With Spartan   Full Article
Forest, VA, Feb. 11, 2015 -- Engineered wood flooring maker Nydree Flooring has chosen Spartan Surfaces to distribute its products in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

Mohawk, Shaw, Tandus/Centiva Again on Training 125 List   Full Article
New York, NY, Feb. 11, 2015 -- Training magazine has ranked Mohawk Industries 14th, Shaw Industries 54th, and Tandus/Centiva 66th on its annual list of top training organizations.

NeoCon East Moving to Philadelphia   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Feb. 11, 2015 -- The 13th edition of NeoCon East will be held Oct. 28-29 in Philadelphia.

Small Business Optimism Down Slightly in January   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 10, 2015 -- Optimism among small business owners fell in January, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

Job Openings at Highest Level Since 2001   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 10, 2015 -- Job openings increased to more than 5 million in December, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wholesale Inventories Edge Up in December   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 10, 2015 -- U.S. wholesale inventories ticked up in December but below expectations, according to the Commerce Department.

Congoleum Names O'Connor CFO   Full Article
Mercerville, NJ, Feb. 10, 2015 -- Congoleum Corporation said that Chris O’Connor has been named chief financial officer.