The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, October 31, 2003


By The Building Tradesman

Small rise seen for U.S. construction 
Total U.S. construction is likely to rise 1 percent in 2003 vs. 2002, according to Mcgraw-Hill Construction.

Unfortunately, home-building, which is hardly a bastion for union construction, is leading the way in making the positive numbers. There are expected to be declines in everything from office construction to schools to power plants, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The total value of construction starts is expected to be $506 billion, up from $501.7 billion in 2002. This would be the second year in a row for a 1 percent increase in U.S. construction activity. Construction activity grew at an average rate of 10 percent annually from 1996 through 1999.

McGraw-Hill is forecasting another 1 percent increase in 2004, led by hotel and store construction.

"The only category I'm optimistic about for the near term is retail construction," said Kenneth Simonson, chief economist with the Associated General Contractors of America, to the Journal. "But in general, offices, warehouses, hotels, and apartments are going to have a rough time, at least until the middle of 2004."

Symphony, Auch say thanks to trades

Construction workers who helped renovate Detroit's Orchestra Hall and build the new Max M. Fisher Music Center were given an unusual token of appreciation on Oct. 10 - the opportunity to hear the orchestra, and hear some nice words about their work before and during the show.

General contractor George W. Auch sprung for the tickets to the "Hardhat Concert," which were made available to any Hardhat who worked on the $60 million project, which took place over a two-year period. Auch and the building trades installed a new ventilation system in the 83-year-old hall, and re-built the lobby, constructed a new backstage area, and built space for smaller concerts and banquets.

"I believe I speak for all of us at Auch, our subcontractors and our tradespeople, when I say thank you for this opportunity," said George W. Auch President Dave Hamilton, before the concert. "This is a marvelous, world-class facility for a world-class orchestra, that we are all proud to be part of. I want to thank all of the trades people and project partners for your expertise, you persistence and your commitment to this project."

Trades people were invited to stand before the concert for a round of applause from their family and friends who attended.

Emil Kang, president and executive director of the DSO, told the concert-goers, "most importantly on this evening, on behalf of our orchestra, board, and staff, I thank you, the construction workers, trades, site staff, and project consultants whose expertise, hard work and commitment brought the Max M. Fisher Music Center to life. This is what you have built, with your hands and with your hearts."