Attention Shoppers: Architects On Sale!

We know autoworkers were slammed during the Great Recession. But also spare a thought - if you will - for those once-celebrated creative types who ruled the design world, made big bucks and graced the society and style pages.

Yes, we mean architects, who are, sad to say, suffering. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employed architects slumped to 189,999 last year from 230,000 in 2008, a 17.8 percent decline, making that friendly designer-type who sports weird black eyewear one of the hardest hit professionals in the economic downturn (along with carpenters and airplane pilots).

We hate to kick Zaha, Rem, Frank and Jean when they're down, but hey, is this the moment to get some good design help on the cheap?

Definitely. Don't be afraid to ask. "There's lots of price cutting going on," admits Scott Frank, spokesman for the American Institute of Architects, whose billings index, which tracks demand for design services, took another dive in November.

Our architect friends say competition is fierce and discount-seeking clients are already going for the jugular.