January, 2021 Beer Can ABI Starts the New Year Off with Sub-50 Numbers and Crappy Beer

It looks like the first Beer Can ABI for 2021 has arrived with the same crappy beer we suffered through in 2020. Didn’t we just decide we’re all workers and nothing more? Pick up the pace, people so we can drink like the good ol’ days of 2019!


December, 2020 Beer Can ABI Remains Stuck Below 50 — This Beer’s So Weak We Can’t Get Drunk

The December 2020 Beer Can ABI numbers were delayed a day due to the inauguration, but they’re so bad it would’ve been better to bury the lede and just put them out that day and no one would notice. So we remain in the realm of beer so cheap and weak that cases of it couldn’t get us drunk, which is exactly what we need when getting slapped in the face by these depressing numbers.


November, 2020 Beer Can ABI Plunges — We’re Running Low on Cheap Beer

The November ALL CAPS Beer Can ABI took a step in the wring direction following months of progress towards the land of actual good beer. At this point, we’ve been so down for so long that we’re running low on cheap beer options. If only Costco still made Kirko Sigs Light…


October, 2020 Beer Can ABI Brings Good Beer and Not So Good Beer

October’s ALL CAPS Beer Can ABI brought us mixed signals, with design contracts firmly over the line into quality beer territory as billings lag behind and are still sipping the crap beers.

Since Midwest firms lead the way back to good beer, we’ll salute this part of the country with Three Floyd’s legendary Alpha King. Cheers! We ain’t drank this good since February! 🍻


September, 2020 Beer Can ABI Continues to Languish in Cheap Beer Territory

The post-lockdown dip into the cheapo beers for the ALL CAPS Beer Can ABI continues in the latest beer can stack from September. As the Beer Can ABI enters the upper 40s, we are seeing a changeover into “ironic cool” cheap beer, which is good news, but still a ways to go in this recovery. It feels like an eternity since we enjoyed quality brewskis.

As always, remember that the more we bill, the bigger the stack of beer cans and the better the quality of those beers. 🍻


The ALL CAPS Beer Can ABI – August, 2020

Let’s visualize AIA’s ABI as beer cans. Here’s last month’s ABI alongside this year’s previous numbers. For as long as we’re below 50 on these numbers, we’ll be stacking the cheap cans.

If you have a preferred (canned) beverage, let me know and I’ll include it in future visualizations. Remember: the more we bill, the bigger the stack of beer cans.


Introducing the ALL CAPS “Will I Get Paid?” Index

I’m on a roll with the economic indicators here, so…

I thought about this out loud on Twitter a while back and now I’m ready to introduce this novel(ty) index that tells us how likely active clients are to start defaulting on our invoices, an important tool to have in “these challenging times” for sure.

Here’s how it works: I’ll take the AIA’s current ABI and CCF numbers, have shot of Stolli, and then I’ll put on an album from Yello and dance for a few minutes. From there, information pops out that tells us something about the likelihood of getting stiffed on an invoice. Pretty magical, huh!?

And Now, The Inaugural “Will I Get Paid?” Index

Index Readings

The Index uses a five-point scale:

  • 5 – 🤑 Hell, invoice the next 12 months — it’s ALL GREAT!
  • 4 – 😁 The accounting staff have never had it so easy!
  • 3 – 🙂 Normal times, no worries.
  • 2 – 😦 Better wrap up invoicing quick, it’s not looking good out there…
  • 1 – 🤕 Oh, shit — emails to client bounce and their phone is disconnected!


The ALL CAPS White Claw ABI – July, 2020

Let’s visualize AIA’s ABI as White Claw cans. Here’s last month’s ABI alongside this year’s previous numbers. As the industry continues to struggle, we’re stuck in the low-brow aisle of the liquor store. Hopefully the ABI will be back at or above 50 soon so we can use some classier cans.

If you have a preferred (canned) beverage, let me know and I’ll include it in future visualizations. Remember: the more we bill, the bigger the stack of beer cans.


The ALL CAPS Beer Can ABI – June, 2020

Let’s visualize AIA’s ABI as beer cans. Here’s last month’s ABI alongside this year’s previous numbers…

If you have a preferred (canned) beer, let me know and I’ll include it in future visualizations. Remember: the more we bill, the bigger the stack of beer cans.

The Mike Brady Architect Compensation Index

On “The Brady Bunch” Mike Brady was an architect that worked for some unnamed firm where Mr. Phillips was his boss. In the show, we saw that the firm’s office had wood paneling typically reserved for basement rec rooms and Mr. Philips was doing pretty good, because he made enough dough to afford a boat big enough to accommodate at least 9 guests, or maybe less a boat and more like a yacht.

Here’s the other thing, though. Mike was bringing home the bacon too. He was the sole earner in a house with a wife, a live-in housekeeper, 6 kids, a dog, a sedan, and a station wagon. On top of all that, he could afford to take the whole group on vacation to tropical destinations like Hawaii. Mike was about 38 at the time, and probably had around 15 years of experience, a common milestone for transitioning into middle management at a firm (but still not using your boss’s first name apparently).

It’s a noble goal indeed for all architects to be making that kind of cheddar and that led me to think about Mike’s earnings in today’s dollars. I think of this exercise as a new way to quantify what architects should be paid if Hollywood were in charge of the payrolls at design firms, and a fun spreadsheet to dork out on as well. 🤓 We’ll confer upon Mike the title of Senior Project Manager and use that tile as a point of reference for the ALL CAPS Mike Brady Architect Compensation Index™️.

I enjoy data analysis, and what I did for this one was quick and dirty, but that’s probably alright since if you were to precisely calculate for each variable in Mike’s enormous family enterprise it would take forever and be super boring number crunching (at least for me). So, with that in mind, here’s a summary of my approach. Let me know if you think there should be changes.

Raising children,
2 each: 8-yrs., 11-yrs., 15-yrs.
USDA’s 2015 analysis modified slightly, as
they didn’t extrapolate to 6 children,
but did find economies of scale when
multiple children were in a family.
Full time live-in housekeeperUsed an average from Home Advisor’s cost range
MortgageAssumed 2,500 SF in LA County and used
average price/SF in that area, then 80%
LTV, 30-yr. term, 3.92% APR, 0.59% taxes,
$2.2K insurance
UtilitiesUsed federal statisics on water electricity
usage combined with LA County rates,
added in typical costs for family phone
plan, streaming services, and internet
VehiclesUsed full-size sedan and station wagon
base model MSRPs, 80% LTV, 8% tax,
2.5% APR, 48-mo. term, $150/mo. ea. insurance
AdultsUsed Numbeo’s numbers for LA County
DogUsed average of multiple sources
SavingsAdded 5% onto total of expenses above
Taxes & Healthcare CoverageAdded 43% onto expenses and savings

…And Now, the Inaugural Index!

I’m no Kermit Baker, but look out AIA Compensation Report and Salary Calculator! Here’s what Mike would be making in today’s world:


I suppose we could continue this exercise with other TV architects: On “Family Ties” Elyse Keaton’s earnings may reinforce our findings, but on “How I Met Your Mother” Ted Mosby would almost certainly throw off TV architect earnings as it seems like he didn’t make as much, though it was still probably way more than a sole proprietor architect/college professor would earn in their twenties. Maybe those can be future updates to this article. Should we look at annual updates to adjust for inflation too?

Does your Compensation fall short on this new index? Might be time for a heart to heart with your Mr. Phillips. Bring him a nautical gift when you meet to help butter him up for a tough talk, I hear he likes boating.