Monday, February 8, 2010

You have got to be freaking kidding me.

We had yet more layoffs on Friday at Design Associates. Only two people, that any of us can confirm anyway, but still two fewer people. And it was who was laid off that was insulting: an architect in his 50s who had been at DA for about 8.5 years and was working on Gestalt HMO with me and a couple of other guys, and an intern who was an absolute Revit whiz and the closest thing we had to a CAD/Revit manager since Sarge was laid off in 2008. This came on the heels of news of two other office departures: one, a youngish licensed architect (like me) was moving out of state; and two, one of our associates (an older licensed architect who was salary and got a bigger portion of the profits than us hourly folk) accepted a position with a consulting engineering/contractor/developer firm. I guess DA figured that with four people gone in the first quarter of '10, we could hold out a while longer. But really? An intern and an architect, both hourly people who actually did the work? Were they making so much that it would make a difference if we laid them off? Of the 40+ people that DA has laid off in the past 18 months, they've only laid off two higher-ranking salary people. So who's going to do the work when it comes back? Or are we just gonna figure that out once we get there?

I'm not as perturbed as I should be about this: Maddy's impending trip over the Rainbow Bridge tends to put all else into perspective. But I am somewhat annoyed by this latest move, which I can't even pretend to explain. This move is truly affecting us workwise--Norman, a longtime friend and colleague of mine (and an associate) was alarmed to find out that the Revit-guru intern was let go. "I'm working on a deadline with him for next week!" he hissed as he knelt in my desk/cubicle area. "I was helping out his team, and I'm barely capable in Revit--we were counting on his help to make this deadline!" I too felt the frustration--the architect that was let go was to be working on the renovation project of one of the floors of the Bierstadt building for Gestalt--and had just been at an OAC/planning meeting last week--so now who's taking over his work?

Furthermore, as a result of these little layoffs, I have inherited one of the most time-consuming and thankless tasks in the office: I am the new office coordinator for the AIA continuing education seminars/Lunch-n-Learns. The intern who was laid off was the latest person to do this, and as he handed me everything and showed me where to find all the presentation schedules and stuff online at the AIA and on our server, he said, "Pixie, I'm really sorry to dump all of this on you--it's not fair to do this on such short notice, and it's not fair for the partners to ask you to do this." I assured him that this wasn't his fault and not to apologize, and he gave me his home email account in case I had any questions on it. Then he said ominously, "This is going to take up way more of your time than you ever imagined."

"Isn't there a billing code for time spent doing this?" I asked.

The intern laughed. "If you find one, I wish I'd known about it."


So now I have to make sure I get done everything that I need to do on Gestalt, hop on TCMC occasionally to check, find, or fix something, be the front person for an ED remodel that's just starting up, and then be available to organize the seminars and meet the presenters and get them set up and then sit through presentation after presentation and then file the seminars with AIA and muck through their website...all in 36 hours a week or less. And did I mention that the last five people who coordinated the AIA seminars have been laid off?

I'm going to go sit in the closet with Maddy and Hazel. There seems to be a lot less stupid in there.


paul mitchell said...

Pixie, not to get too personal, but at the end of the day, it is just a job. Most of us go into the field of architecture trying to figure out what we want to do in the future in our careers. Luckily, those that we work for are notoriously bad businessmen/women and have very little memory of what things were like when we performed the tasks necessary to complete the actual work.

Trust me, it NEVER gets any better as long as you are not the one calling the shots. The thing that gets me about continuing education is this, the AIA is exactly a DINNER CLUB. Most of the folks that actually have anything to do with it are so far removed from the field (more so than those laying off people at your firm) that they could no more perform the work than monkeys. Such is the nature of bureaucracies.

Good luck, Chicca. The economy is not headed in the right direction for at least another 1.5 years and it seems that the powers that be are ramping up the stupidity.

Sandy said...

I am putting you and Maddy in my prayers. Hugs.

Miss Kitty said...

Admin people make absolutely NO sense sometimes. [sigh] For more proof, just look here at Division II University.

Prayers for you & Squaddy. (((hugs)))

Joe Simmons said...

Architecture: A wonderful profession and a terrible business. Lesson: Don't be a 50 year old employee.

bluedogok said...

We had hoped to move to Denver last year, that was our plan a few years ago, then the economy "happened" and have just stayed (employed) in Austin. For many years I have watched the ads on the AIA-Colorado Job Board (online and the mail-outs before they were online) and it is just depressing to look at them now with so few. I agree that most architects are not the best of "business people", of course cash flow problem creates more problems and we are usually at the end of the line.

After a 50% reduction in staff (18 to 9) in the past 1.5 years (we actually hired two more senior people last summer) at least things have been staying somewhat consistent here, 70-80 hours a week "consistent" for the past least I have Revit at home.

Hope things pick up there soon...