For the duration of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, AN will use this column to keep our readers up to date on how the pandemic is affecting architecture and related industries. This weekly article is meant to digest the latest major developments in the crisis and synthesize broader patterns and what they could mean for architecture in the United States. The previous edition of the column can be found here.
It’s almost August! Hopefully you, reader, are able to take a break from the omnipresent pandemic news this summer, but if you’re still looking for COVID-19 updates, read on for coverage of how the disease has been affecting architecture lately.
Some not great (but also unsurprising news): Non-residential construction is expected to fall this year relative to last year. It’s the sector’s first dip in almost a decade.
Less construction means less work for contractors, which has pushed construction labor costs down. At the same time, disruption to international supply chains is raising material prices, but that increase isn’t enough to offset the cuts to labor costs, so overall construction costs have fallen for the first time since 2010.
News about spending and budget cuts has started to feel like a habitual refrain, but the past couple of weeks has brought more cancellations and dire prognostications. New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), responsible for running the city’s subways and buses, will likely make deep budget cuts as a result of lower ridership and collected taxes during the pandemic. It’s not clear exactly what changes the MTA will make, but they will likely include cuts to service. Cuts to mass transit like this, happening across the country, exacerbate the pandemic’s effects particularly on Black, Latino, and immigrant communities that often rely on subways and buses more than their counterparts.
More gloomy news: The American Alliance of Museums announced this week that one-third of the United States’ museums may not last 16 months if they don’t receive aid, and the American Society of Landscape Architects has canceled its annual conference for this year, originally planned for October.
In sunnier news, check out this list of outdoor art spaces and landscapes reopening.
Finally, AN’s Post-Pandemic Potentials series continues with another column by Phil Bernstein on architecture and contingencies.