Editorial: Expecting The Best

Jan. 1, 2008

 

As we ring in another new year, there is lingering uncertainty about what kind of economic activity will unfold in 2008-due in part to the pronounced troubles in the housing market and resulting credit crunches. Despite the fact that U.S. economic growth as a whole may not be as robust as once expected, with the White House lowering its forecast in late November, we here at Interiors & Sources remain confident that the A&D industry will fare well in the days and months ahead.

There are several indicators that suggest commercial construction will remain strong this year. For example, "The Construction Outlook," a quarterly market forecast developed by FMI's Research Services Group, states that nonresidential construction was booming in 2007 and will increase again in 2008, although at a slower rate. Nonresidential construction will expand at a 5 percent rate in 2008 and at a 4 percent rate in 2009 as the declines in residential begin to lower demand for certain nonresidential segments, according to the report.

Further, according to the "2008 AEC Industry Outlook: Strategy and Insight for Design & Construction Firms," a new report from ZweigWhite, healthcare, higher education, and power and energy will be among the hottest markets for design and construction firms in 2008-a repeat of the projected hottest markets in the 2007 report.

Perhaps even more encouraging is the fact that, after posting an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23 percent through 2006, the market for green building materials is expected to continue growing (although at a slightly slower rate of 17 percent) from almost $2.2 billion in 2006 to $4.7 billion by 2011, according to Green Building Materials in the U.S., a new report from market research publisher Specialists in Business Information (SBI).

While some analysts say an economic recession hasn't been completely ruled out, it seems more likely that 2008 will see steady growth, albeit slow. And we fully anticipate another year characterized by inspiring design projects and innovative product launches, such as those featured in this issue.

Be sure to check out our annual Editors' Choice Product Picks, where you will find our selection of some of the coolest products introduced to the market last year that meet the demand for both form and function. With nearly 200 entries this year, the selection process was far from easy; there were many worthy products that would have made the cut if we had room to feature them all. The products selected represent the entries that captured our attention because of their performance characteristics, aesthetics, features, and in most cases, their small or reduced environmental footprints.

Speaking of inspired designs, it would be difficult to flip through this issue and not notice the beautiful images of our cover story. Designed by Memphis-based Hnedak Bobo Group (HBG), the new offices for ODEN Marketing blend modern and historic elements to create a cutting-edge work environment suitable to the client's hip, forward-thinking culture. The project has garnered industry recognition for HBG as well. The Gulf States Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) granted the firm an Award of Merit for its work on the project and the Memphis Chapter of the AIA awarded the project an Honor Citation. In addition, HBG received a Juror's Award in Shaw Contract Group's National "Design is..." awards program.

And be sure to take advantage of this issue's CEU article from The Hardwood Council. By reading the article and answering the exam questions, you will be able to identify which types of hardwoods are specified for high-traffic settings; explain why factory-finished floors are more durable and consistent than on-site finished floors; and determine how a floor's abrasion-resistant qualities can be enhanced-and earn valuable continuing education credits in the process.

From all of us at Interiors & Sources, best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

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