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Building Business News: June 18 – 24, 2021

    Antoine Bryant, via Rice University

    Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan has nominated Houston planner Antoine Bryant of Moody Nolan to be the city’s director of the Planning & Development Department. The position requires the approval of the Detroit City Council. Bryant succeeds Maurice Cox, who left Detroit in 2019 for a comparable role in Chicago. Deputy planning director Katy Trudeau ran the department during the interim.

    Paola Sanguinetti via Arizona State University

    Paola Sanguinetti is the new director of The Design School at Arizona State University‘s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. She comes to ASU from the University of Kansas, where she was a professor of architecture, director of the robotics lab, and former chair of the department of architecture. Sanguinetti grew up in Venezuela, and holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Kansas; a Master of Science in advanced architectural design from Columbia University, and a PhD in architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology, specializing in high-performance buildings and design computation.

    Herman Miller President and CEO Andi Owen via MillerKnoll

    In April, furniture manufacturer Herman Miller announced the acquisition of its number one competitor, Knoll. Now the deal is complete, and the combined business has announced a new name, MillerKnoll. Herman Miller and Knoll will continue to exist as distinct brands.

    Jacobs Chair & CEO Steve Demetriou via Jacobs

    Engineering giant Jacobs is doubling down on sustainability with a new business strategy called Plan Beyond. Its six objectives align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. “We must act – now and collectively – to improve health, protect our world from climate change, reduce inequalities, and ensure no one is left behind,” Jacobs Chair and CEO Steve Demetriou said in a statement.

    The American Institute of Architects‘ Architecture Billings Index remains positive. The June score of 57.1 is only slightly lower than May’s 58.5. (Any score over 50 indicates growth.) The new design contracts score came in at 58.9, down from 69.2 in May. Offsetting the ongoing good news, AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker points to a lack of architects to fill all of the open positions.

    Associated Builders and Contractors Chief Economist Anirban Basu likewise points to a strong recovery for the construction sector, “despite the COVID-19 pandemic, high materials prices and a skilled labor shortage,” reports Construction Dive.

    Turner Construction‘s latest Building Cost Index—which each quarter measures costs in the U.S. non-residential building construction market—had increased to a value of 1187. This represents a 1.28% increase from the first quarter of 2021 and a 0.85% year-over-year increase. Turner’s Attilio Rivetti attributes the rise in costs to “an increas in demand for construction services combined with pandemic-related supply-chain disruptions.”