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US election special: Architects react to Obama's victory

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Architects have urged re-elected US president Barack Obama to use his second term in office to boost the quality and sustainability of building design

Obama this week saw off a sustained challenge from Republican candidate Mitt Romney to earn four more years in the White House.

Chicago-born Stephan Reinke, who runs Stephan Reinke Architects in London, told AJ the re-election was good news for architects on both sides of the Atlantic.

‘The Obama administration is interested in education, innovation, sustainability and technology – and those are topics that we as architects are very interested in too,’ he said.

‘The re-election of Obama will drive a continuation of a high-minded effort towards quality design. A more draconian regime may have got the arts in its sights and started firing.’

Reinke said the re-election could also boost the fragile economic recovery in the US – eventually dragging the UK along with it.

London will be in the forefront of this effect

‘We are very closely linked to the US and London will be in the forefront of this effect,’ he said. ‘Some of the second cities may take a little longer.’

He called for Obama to use his second term in office to provide incentives for quality architecture.

‘I’d like to see a greater level of reward for innovation; an initiative to encourage high quality, well considered work,’ he said.

Eric Kuhne, who runs London-based design consultancy Eric R Kuhne and Associates, said the election result would boost the fortunes of architects.

‘In the 24 hours since the announcement I have had contact from clients across five continents saying they are relived and excited by the news,’ he said.

‘Obama will create opportunity for invention, innovation and creativity – and architects will benefit widely from that.’

Kuhne noted that Obama’s support came from a far more diverse background than Romney’s. He said meeting localised needs was also critical to success in the design sector.

American Institute of Architects president Jeff Potter urged Obama to offer greater rewards for sustainable design.

He called for the president to ‘renew existing and create new incentives to encourage energy conservation in government buildings and throughout the built environment’.

But Potter said a solution to disagreements over the Budget should be Obama’s first priority. Trillions of dollars of tax hikes and spending cuts are due to come into effect from January 2013.

’Now that the election battle is over, we urge both the White House and the newly elected Congress to launch a new era of statesmanship by putting aside differences on the Budget and by enacting policies that will help put the economy on a more solid footing for all Americans,’ said Potter.

‘In particular, we urge both parties to solve the impending budget impasse known as the fiscal cliff, where mandatory budget cuts and tax hikes threaten to cost more than 60,000 construction jobs beginning on January 2.’

Robert Bruckner, managing director at Aedas’ Seattle Office said: ‘The recent election result should offer a short term acceleration of those markets tied to innovation, clean energy and transportation infrastructure.  As a design practice serving science and research enterprises, we believe this is the administration to provide long overdue increases to funding for basic research. 

‘Perhaps further down the road, the proposed tax relief to companies which create jobs onshore, will spur development of transformative new workplaces and factories.  It would be just for much of this development to occur in the industrial Midwest. 

‘My personal hope, after four difficult years, is that Barack’s greatest talent – to inspire – will bring at least modest change to the collegiality and productivity of Congress’.


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