The New Yorker to New Yorker Community call revealed powerful issues that appear to be New York City only. These issues include perceptions of the city to the practical realities of working on buildings where co-op boards control access and the state of mass transit, among other issues that are key to how design firms work on the biggest market in the US.
- Perceptions of the city shared during the initial call were powerful with members talking about how serene and civilized the city feels with so many fewer people and those they encounter sharing a certain camaraderie. At the same time, members are concerned about the “brand” of New York City and how being labeled as a global hot spot for the virus will impact business and culture at least for a significant period of time. It seems there is a psychological barrier being formed with some people afraid of the city. One designer suggested that potential clients may be concerned about hiring design professionals from the city to work on projects outside the city because of virus fears.
- This important conversation continued as some worried about how a city with less culture and excitement, at least for now, will recover without the draw of these experiences. Others looked to a renewal that may prove positive over the longer term as the city could become more affordable again and new businesses emerge. Some just said, New York is New York and always bounces back. It may be baby steps at first, but despite the challenges of living and working there that have always persisted, its still going to be what it is.
- It does seem that some clients of design firms based on NYC are continuing to plan projects in the city, albeit impacted by job site closures and also increasing their focus on homes outside the city. The architects in the group seemed to have the most consistent business and were operating in many ways “business as usual” whereas the designers reported more variable business.
- Participants on the call are definitely looking to new demand drivers including more non-city projects as clients plan to spend more time in country and beach houses, have new needs as they experience their homes in new ways and plan to use them in new ways, and because clients are paying more attention to their lifestyle at home. Most said that their clients are more interested in the projects they are working on now and investing quality time on video calls to make decisions.
- City projects have essentially stopped due to restrictions and there is concern about navigating building by building requirements in the months to come. Right now its hard to start new projects when clients don’t know when construction can re-start. Coops will be the toughest challenge in terms of restarting as boards may be reluctant to allow workers into buildings.
- Most believe they can make their offices safe, but worry about getting people there by mass transit. Similarly, there is concern that getting to showrooms and job sites will also be impacted by transit issues.
- Opportunities and learnings are coming from this experience including everyone becoming much more digital and finding other news ways of working including ordering double samples so that they have one and the client has one for video calls. Many expect to see a faster shift to online buying.