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Editor's Note: "After the Plague, Came the Renaissance"

Nov. 24, 2021
As we near the end of another uniquely challenging year, our editor gives thanks for the progress logged so far and the creative promise of renewal that now lies ahead.

I recently heard an animated storyteller on The Moth Radio Hour  deliver that line at both the beginning and the end of an inspiring personal tale about how he and his wife had persevered through a long and dark period of immense family trial.

They had recovered and emerged energized and driven to give back to their community after enduring years of health setbacks that had totally upended their life’s plans.

The story was recorded before the Coronavirus pandemic, but its lesson of grit and defiant hopefulness is arguably even more relevant today. Indeed, as we now come to the end of 2021 and reflect, we have all been through the ringer in one way or another: mentally, physically, financially, politically. And for many of us, the last 20 trying months have likely included times that we may have even thought were more than we could bear. But here we still are.

Granted, the darkness may not have completely lifted, of course, and there may yet be a Covid resurgence this winter. But the inescapable feeling as I write this is that we are finally on the verge of putting this crucible behind us.

Indeed, my hometown of New York City just announced in early November that it would resume traditional New Year’s Eve festivities in Times Square, at least for fully vaccinated attendees. So, thousands upon thousands of them, will once again gather to watch the ball drop at midnight.

A month later in Las Vegas, our industry will hold its own national reunion at the AHR Expo, restarting a treasured annual tradition lost to the pandemic a year ago. I know I can speak for my colleagues here at Endeavor Business Media when I say that we can’t wait to see you all again... not to mention each other!

Camaraderie aside, there will be plenty of new energy on the show floor, in exhibit halls, and conference rooms, buoyed by an ongoing economic resurgence that is lifting both spirits and prospects now as we head into the holidays. The U.S. recovery that had sputtered this fall due to the Delta variant now appears to have regained momentum. It was aided, of course, by the long-overdue, seemingly miraculous passage in Congress of an actual $1.2-trillion federal infrastructure bill, finally signed into law Nov. 15. The news prompted much joy and relief across our industry.

That funding for roads, bridges, lead pipe replacement, electric grid upgrades, and much more, will boost business prospects in both the short and long term, adding actual stability to public works spending that has been absent too long. And such support also adds credence to the optimistic construction forecasts that our industry was already starting to see in the fourth quarter. By mid-November, there was growing evidence of significant strength surging across many markets, especially for nonresidential building construction. Only inflation and supply chain challenges seemed able to restrain the resurgence.

And that strength seems poised to unleash creativity, too, as we can see in the AHR Expo Innovation Awards featured in this issue. In particular, indoor air quality technology is now in the midst of a renaissance. The pandemic has forced building owners to demand more data to reassure tenants now more interested than ever in the air they share with others. Outside-the-box thinking is yielding hybrid solutions, too, mixing old and new technologies that can upgrade existing systems to handle the demands of a new era.

In all, there seems to be “hope for the holidays” again this year, and that is a good thing. I know I invoked that phrase a year ago in this space, but in hindsight, that may have been more wishful thinking. This year, it just feels much more real. May we all see it bear abundant fruit in 2022. And remember...

After the plague, came the Renaissance.   


For more Editor's Note columns, click here.

About the Author

Rob McManamy | Editor in Chief

An industry reporter and editor since 1987, McManamy joined HPAC Engineering in September 2017, after three years with, a Chicago-based media startup focused on tech innovation in the built environment. He has been covering design and construction issues for more than 30 years, having started at Engineering News-Record (ENR) in New York, before becoming its Midwest Bureau Chief in 1990. In 1998, McManamy was named Editor-in-Chief of Design-Build magazine, where he served for four years. He subsequently worked as an editor and freelance writer for Building Design + Construction and Public Works magazines.

A native of Bronx, NY, he is a graduate of both the University of Virginia, and The John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Contact him at [email protected].