Southern California Architecture Firm Sees Business Increase

Economists in the U.S. look almost daily for the so-called “green shoots” that could signal a sustained economic recovery.

The Park at Spectrum

Irvine, Calif.–Economists in the U.S. look almost daily for the so-called “green shoots” that could signal a sustained economic recovery. Real estate trend watchers are also looking for any signs that development, hammered by the Great Recession and the lingering credit crunch, may be picking up.

One architecture firm, MVE Partners, and its affiliate, MVE Institutional, of Irvine, Calif., says it is seeing a pickup in demand, and as a result, has increased its institutional staff by 20 percent, recently hiring 13 professionals.

The firm is experiencing growing demand for architectural and master-planning services in the Far East, and in the U.S., more business in its institutional divisions, which covers areas such as schools and military housing, and in its multifamily work.

“We’re seeing some projects that stalled last year being reactivated,” says Rick Castillo, principal of MVE & Partners.

For example, Castillo says The Park at Spectrum, a multifamily development in Irvine, was put on hold in 2009, but the project has restarted. MVE & Partners is working on updating the building to conform to California’s new building codes. Another multifamily project, Crescent Park in San Jose, Calif., was put on hold in June of 2009, but has also been reborn, with MVE & Partners working on the plan check and building permitting phases.

Castillo says the firm, despite adding staff, is being cautious in its hiring. “We are being careful to balance our workload and staff requirements,” he says.

The firm has recently completed projects in diversified building types, such as Irvington Terrace, a 100-unit multifamily development in Fremont, Calif. that won the 2009 AIA/HUD Secretary Award of Excellence in Affordable Housing Design; and Park Place at Camp Humphreys, a 2,400-unit mixed-use development at Camp Humphreys in South Korea.

Castillo says that while he is seeing positive signs, he knows the level of development is significantly less than it was earlier in the decade.

“There is measured growth,” he says. “Developers are being very deliberate in their approach.”