TrendWatch 2013

1. Growth of non-U.S. talent and design education infrastructure:

Prosperity and rapid growth in developing economies is creating a pressing need for better local A/E/C talent; designers from those markets are becoming savvier and will soon compete with U.S. firms not only in international markets but also on American soil.

2. Growing global emphasis on resilient design and public health:

As the population of the world increases and becomes rapidly urbanized, cities and regions will look increasingly to the built environment to protect lives, economic prosperity, and property in the face of disaster as well as promote healthy lifestyles in city residents.

3. Rise of PPPs:

Private Public Partnerships (or PPPs) are a growing worldwide phenomenon that lifts the burden for building infrastructure and delivering traditionally government-based services from local, state and national governments. Firms that understand this new model will be able to develop relationships and new lines of business.

4. Increasing demand for efficiency and speed in the design and delivery process:

Many architects are familiar with the now Internet-famous videos of Chinese companies building 15-story buildings in six days. Owners and their representatives are now demanding faster delivery times with far less waste, pushing firms to revisit and reinvent older ideas like modularization and prefabrication.

5. Increasing fee pressure for non-differentiated firms:

Broader options for owners run the risk of commoditizing of design services. Firms that understand their value and have strongly differentiated brands will be able to stave off the trend.

Bob Fisher is a contributing editor to DesignIntelligence.