While the health-care and education sectors actually improved during the downturn, in 2010 they have tapered off to pre-recession levels. However, several firms are still bullish. “We still feel very strongly that both education and health care will continue to be strong for us, and we expect senior living to pick up quickly,” says Erik Clinite, partner with Orcutt|Winslow.

Landscape architecture and surveying/mapping are each down 27%, while multi-family residential continues its five-year slide from a high of $100 million in 2006 to just $3.7 million in 2010.

Revenue gained from projects that are registered with LEED or the equivalent plummeted 33% in 2010 to $73.6 million. But designers say that doesn't necessarily reflect a retreat from building sustainably in the Southwest. “If you were a good architect, you considered green design from the day you started designing,” Clinite says. “It seems that many of our owners don't really see the need for someone to certify that they are doing sustainable design, and as a result we think [LEED] will decrease in popularity.”

The number of LEED-accredited (or equivalent) professionals also dropped for the first time in the survey, to 556 in 2010 from 760 in 2009. While this may be due to staff reductions, the number of licensed architects and engineers actually rose during the same time period as firms began hiring again.

As the economy improves, design firms are seeing increased inquiries from owners and developers, but under new, more fiscally frugal parameters. “Our clients are forced to do more with less, so it is up to HDR to help our clients get projects done more efficiently,” Roden says. As a result, interest in public-private partnerships and alternative delivery methods such as design-build is on the rise.

Modern delivery methods coupled with the acceptance of building information modeling will require teamwork and cooperation like never before. “The ability to work more directly with the contractor in creating a model that is both a design and construction tool will continue to revolutionize the profession,” says Paul Winslow, founding partner of Orcutt|Winslow. “That can mean a better buy and better design solution for the client, while minimizing the time and money lost in correcting oversights or discrepancies.” n