Silicon Valley heading south. After averaging 4 million square feet of absorption for a record five years, office space leasing and construction in Silicon Valley has cooled off, says CPS Commercial Property Services, Santa Clara, Calif. Office occupancy dropped by almost 4 million square feet by April, and only 1.5 million square feet were leased or sold in the first quarter, off substantially from 12.3 million in 2000.
Intel, others halt construction. In Austin, Texas, a half-built semiconductor-design facility for Intel Corp. sits idle. Elsewhere, high-tech behemoths like Cisco Systems are abandoning aggressive building programs following slowdowns in computer and telecommunications markets. While Cisco says it will go ahead with a $1.3 billion headquarters project in San Jose, it is scaling back other starts and backing out of $300 million of leases and new projects. Intel, meanwhile, has no plans for its $124 million concrete shell.
Postal projects on hold. The U.S. Postal Service has placed a freeze on about 800 projects that had been scheduled to proceed during the current fiscal year. The action applies to projects of less than $10 million that were not under contract on Feb. 22; larger projects must be approved by the agency's Board of Governors. The Postal Service can borrow only $3 billion per year, and already has $2 billion under contract for construction and equipment.
"Largest building" coming down. A contract is pending for the demolition of K-25, a 44-acre, U-shaped structure at Oak Ridge (Tenn.) National Laboratory that was designed to house uranium enrichment facilities to support nuclear weapons. Once the largest building under one roof, it was built in 18 months and operated from 1943 until 1964. The three-phase demolition will take about seven years, beginning with removal of asbestos and equipment. Bechtel/Jacobs is the management integration contractor.
Five-year A201 revision plan dropped. The American Institute of Architects has abandoned its intent, announced two years ago, to revise its key A201 general conditions document on a five-year cycle. It was last revised in 1997. Revisions probably will continue at a 10-year interval, according to Richard Cook, chairman of the A201 committee.
Bush, contractors oppose "blacklisting" regulation. In April, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council issued a 270-day stay of the so-called "blacklisting regulation" and proposed a complete withdrawal of the rule, which took effect during the waning days of the Clinton Administration. The rule made construction and other contract awards contingent upon new criteria, mainly alleged violations of federal labor, employment, safety and environmental laws. The Bush administration—and contractor groups—oppose the rules.
Corporations go green with a vengeance. Even as President Bush was citing "incomplete science" for his decision against regulating CO2 emissions, five companies pledged action on climate change. The companies—California Portland Cement Co., Cummins Inc., Waste Management Inc., TransAlta Corp. and Interface Inc.—join 28 others as members of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change's "Business Environmental Leadership Council."
Industry image plan advances. The plan to establish a National Construction Image Steering Committee took a step forward as Gainesville, Fla.-based National Center for Construction Education and Research recently outlined details. The committee, which could meet this summer, will have 31 members representing the Associated General Contractors of America, the Associated Builders & Contractors and the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department, among others. Seven subcommittees will focus on such issues as wages, employee relations, awards, public relations, education and Internet presence.