January 2014 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

The year has kicked off at the same busy pace of 2013 for you as well as Miller Blue! And thanks to those of you who are keeping us busy and on our toes.  May 2014 bring you peace and prosperity and all the good things you asked Santa to bring. If you see opportunities where we may assist, areas of improvement for us, or feedback – please pass it on to me.


Luci Miller


What a Relief It Is: 2014 Construction Forecast Steady


Experts predict increases in every construction segment in 2014, including 7.6 percent growth in non-residential construction and 6.3 percent growth in industrial construction, according to the AIA Consensus Construction Forecast.

Leading the pack is hotel construction, which is expected to climb 15 percent this year. Even public safety construction, which shrank nearly 5 percent in 2013, is expected to climb 1.0 percent in 2014.

“Our outlook is positive, with a few caveats,” says Robert Murray, chief economist at McGraw-Hill Construction in an article in Engineering News Record. “This is another step on the way to a more full-fledged expansion.  Because this is a measured expansion, there is a very good chance this forecast will play out,” he adds.

The Associated Builders and Contractors Contractor Confidence Index (CCI), which measures the strength of the construction market from the perspective of builders, showed increases in 2013 and hope for 2014. As with other indexes, a rate above 50 indicates an expectation of growth — the CCI for sales expectation for the first half of 2013 was 63; for profit margins was 55.3; and for staffing level was 60. Read more about the CCI here.

“As the economic recovery enters its fifth year, nonresidential construction prospects continue to brighten,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “A variety of industries ranging from professional and health services to leisure and retail continue to add jobs, and vacancy rates in many product categories throughout the country are falling, creating new opportunities for developers and their contractors.”

These positive signs were accompanied by some caveats. For example, the federal government’s continued difficulty in developing a budget is not helping the construction economy. This particularly affects construction of bridges, roads, and other infrastructure.

“Over the past 10 years, on average nationally, federal funding has provided 52 percent of the money invested by state transportation departments in road and bridge capital improvement projects,” says American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black. “The federal share ranges from 35 percent in New Jersey to over 70 percent in 11 states.”

Nevertheless, ARTBA is forecasting that the overall U.S. transportation infrastructure construction market will grow 5 percent, from $129 billion in 2013 to $135.8 billion in 2014. You can read more from ARTBA here.

The bottom line? Growth is not rapid, but it is steady, which may be better in the long run.

Says McGraw-Hill’s Murray: “The way the recovery is unfolding is beneficial for two reasons: It lessens the chance of another boom-then-bust cycle, and it allows for labor constraints to be not as severe.”

Image credit: Pedro Moura Pinheiro, used under the Creative Commons License.


New Chicago Public Transport Stations Feature Grand Architecture


When most people think of public transportation, they think about getting from one place to another. But Chicago residents get a little more these days, with architecturally beautiful new stations in the Loop and elsewhere along the city’s 113 miles of elevated trains.

A $38-million station opened in May 2012 at the corner of Lake and Morgan streets, on Chicago’s West Side. It was the first new elevated station in 15 years. The new station, designed by Chicago architect Carol Ross Barney, features towers on either side of the tracks made of glass and perforated steel. Each tower contains a ticketing area and stairs leading to the platforms and a glass tunnel connecting the platforms. The station shines with natural light flowing through the glass and perforated steel, creating a bright, modern aesthetic in an otherwise aging industrial neighborhood.

Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin praised the structure when it opened: “The outcome succeeds as urban design and architecture. There is no facile attempt here to mimic the muscular brick structures of nearby lofts and warehouses. The boxy slabs have the right toughness for the neighborhood, yet by virtue of their height, transparency and glinting presence, they give it something fresh.”

Another new CTA El station is now rising at the corner of Cermak Road and State Street, just south of the Loop and just west of McCormick Place convention center. The new station, also designed by Carol Ross Barney, is expected to cost $50 million. The station will feature a long, cocoon-like structure covering its entire length. This structure, resembling a European train station, will protect riders from the elements. Ground broke on this station in August 2013, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

Finally, the Chicago Transit Authority is consolidating stations at Randolph and Wabash streets in the Loop into one new station on Wabash Avenue. Construction on the station, designed by Teng & Associates (now called Exp), is scheduled to begin in 2014 and will cost $75 million. The key design element is a series of undulating, white pergola-like bars crossing the tracks. The city’s press release states: “The undulating wave form of the canopies weaves through the historic Wabash Avenue corridor as a counterpoint to the city grid, and anticipates the soft forms of the park and the lake beyond.”

The three stations reveal the city’s interest in quality architecture, even if it costs a bit more than standard stations would have cost.

Image credit: CTA Web, used under the Creative Commons License.

Wall Murals and Re-Positionable Art: The Perfect Decorative Touch

Designing a new office, brightening a room or just wanting to change the look of your space?  You might want to consider a wall mural or re-positionable art.  An enlargement of a favorite photo, sketch, painting or abstract design printed on re-positionable wall-safe adhesive can be easily applied to any interior wall.  An entire wall can be covered with panels of your favorite piece, much like wallpaper but without the need for glue or expert installation.

Wall murals and re-positionable art offer a very personal way to decorate your office, reception area, conference room, dorm room, apartment, or condo.  Whether it be a change in season, design taste, or mood – you can easily remove your wall mural or art and install something new.  Don’t worry about damaging your walls, as these are proven wall-safe adhesives.

Come and visit Miller Blueprint to see samples of our wall-safe adhesives.  For more information on wall murals and re-positionable art, contact Ian Cousins at  512.381.5276 or cssr@millerblueprint.com.


Adobe Creative Suite: Choosing the Best Program for the Job


The Adobe Creative Suite is an extremely powerful set of programs that can help you accomplish virtually any creative task – from editing photos to designing a logo.  But choosing the right program to accomplish the task at hand can be confusing at times. Part of the dilemma begins with the realization that a given task can actually be accomplished using multiple Adobe programs – but which is the best choice?  Here is a quick reference to get you started on the right track.


  • Excellent for editing photos – including retouching, correcting, and enhancing
  • The best program for working with web graphics
  • Not the best program for working with text


  • Best program for creating multi-page documents
  • Also great for creating files that include both images and text, such as print ads and brochures
  • Offers a great balance between sophisticated graphic layout and powerful word processing


  • Ideal for creating original artwork, such as logos and monograms
  • Vector-based, so artwork can scale to any size and not get pixilated
  • Illustrator’s vector-based format also works well with AutoCAD files, which can be scaled to any size and edited without pixilation.

Still not sure which program to use, or have questions about how to set up your documents? Call or email our Customer Sales and Service Rep, Ian Cousins, at 512.381.5276 or cssr@millerblueprint.com.

January Coupon

January Coupon - OutdoorBanners

Due to popular demand, we are extending our special on Vinyl Banners this month.
Mention this ad for discount, or click here for printable version.


Amazing Architecture: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Edition

Farnsworth House – A glass pavilion raised on stilts six feet above a floodplain on the Fox River west of Chicago. Was a weekend retreat for professional women; now it’s a museum.

Seagram Building – The New York headquarters of the liquor company, most noteworthy for the fact that it was set back from the property line to create a forecourt on Park Avenue.

860-880 N. Lake Shore Drive – A 26-story apartment building in Chicago featuring van der Rohe’s clean, dark lines and glass exterior walls.

National Gallery, Berlin – This was van der Rohe’s last building. It features the cantilevered roof that was van der Rohe’s signature, over a glass-enclosed exhibit space.


ArchiList: Top 10 Architecture Cities

Planning a trip this year? The Travel Channel calls these cities the World’s Top Architecture Cities:

1. Dubai – Burj Kalifa, Burm Al Arab and the World

2. Berlin – Reichstag, Altes Museum, Das Rotes Rathaus

3. Chicago – Cloud Gate, Willis Tower, Frank Lloyd Wright

4. New York – Empire State Building, Freedom Tower, Central Park

5. Beijing – Great Wall of China, Forbidden City

6. Rome – Colosseum, Pantheon, the Vatican

7. Shanghai – Jin Mao Tower, Shanghai World Financial Centre

8. Athens – Temple of Athena, Parthenon

9. Barcelona – Casa Catllo, La Sagrada Familia

10. Paris – Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Pyramid


Being Green: Furniture Edition

Greenington Fine Bamboo Furniture is made from fully sustainable materials. The company makes a full line, including tables, chairs, shelves, beds, and dressers.

Broyhill Furniture makes a line of eco-friendly upholstered furniture. Its wood frames are made from Sustainable Forestry Initiative woods, its leather is formaldehyde free, and its cushions are made from soy-based foam and recycled plastics.

Iannone Design makes a line of eco-friendly furniture, using materials such as reclaimed wood and salvaged auto metal.

Greensofas.com offers economical sofas made from non-toxic glues, natural materials, and wood from sustainable forests.

News You Can Use

Texas Architects Need Fingerprints for License Renewal

Oldest Austin Architecture Firm Rebrands

Architectural Digest Names Three Texas Firms Best in World

SW Austin Growth May Slow


In the Community

Miller Blueprint proudly supports the following organizations:

AIA Austin

Austin Chamber of Commerce

Austin Contractors & Engineers Association

Real Estate Council of Austin

Society for Marketing Professional Services – Austin Chapter