Swanke Hayden Connell Files For Protection From Creditors

Swanke Hayden Connell, the New York City-based architectural practice, filed for protection from its creditors on Jan. 9 in federal court in Manhattan. With a glittering portfolio of projects that included the restoration of the Statue of Liberty, Trump Tower and offices of some of the most prestigious corporations in the world, Swanke Hayden had dwindled to a small practice in recent years, after two key principals left. The final blow to the company apparently came with a $2.297-million dispute over payments due from a client in Russia.

Employment Posts Strong Gains

The construction industry ended 2014 on a strong note, with a surge of 48,000 jobs in December, driving its unemployment rate down sharply from its year-earlier level, though it was up from November's mark. The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Jan. 9 reported that construction's jobless rate last month was 8.3%, well below its 11.4% December 2013 rate. But the December unemployment rate was higher than November's 7.5% as the industry's work volume slowed with winter's onset. BLS also reported that construction's average unemployment rate for 2014 was 8.9%, the lowest annual level since 2007. The 48,000 jobs gained was the largest monthly increase since January, when the industry added 51,000 positions.

California Starts First Phase Of High-Speed-Rail Project

The state of California officially began construction on its high-speed-rail line on Jan. 6. As part of the 29-mile first leg between Madera and Fresno, crews with design-build joint venture Tutor Perini-Zachry-Parsons will begin installing up to 20 grade separations, two viaducts and a tunnel on the $985-million project. Officials anticipate completion of the first phase by the end of 2017. Meanwhile, the High-Speed Rail Authority board met on Jan. 13 to approve the $1.37-billion best-value bid from the joint venture of Dragados-Flatiron-Shimmick for design and construction of phases two and three. The four-year project will add 60 miles of rail.

Deal In Place For $1-billion Job

Financing is in place to finish construction of a new $1-billion, natural-gas-fired powerplant at Salem Harbor, Mass. Footprint Power and its partner, Highstar Capital IV, will invest 87.5% of the equity necessary for construction, with Toyoto Tsubo investing the remainder. Footprint Power will retain an equity interest and continue managing the project.