It’s been a tough recession for architects. The 2011-’12 U.S. 1 Business Directory, which annually charts the most recent staff sizes at companies in various industries, showed that the staff sizes of many architecture firms have decreased precipitously in the past few years.

The Hillier firm, once among the top five in staff size before it was sold to the international firm RMJM, no longer exists in Princeton and its office at 500 Alexander Park now sits vacant.

HDA (formerly CUH2A) decreased from 250 employees in April, 2008, to 208 in April, 2011. Michael Graves & Associates went down from 110 to 53 in the same time period, and Minno & Wasko from 60 to 36.

But now comes at least one sign of resurgence. Nassau Street-based Joshua Zinder Architecture + Design (JZA+D) is hiring staff and is looking forward to a number of new projects in the coming year.

“We’re excited to be growing and adding positions as we head into the new year,” says Joshua Zinder, the firm’s principal. “As we continue to expand our ranks we also broaden our firm’s ability to compete for additional high-profile projects across a broad array of building sectors.”

Zinder says that in terms of new business — particularly in the Princeton area — his firm expects to continue to grow its office and commercial interior work and add more landlords and building owners to its roster of existing tenant clients.

“There are dozens of new projects in the pipeline, many include office and commercial interiors,” Zinder says. “Education and healthcare business is holding steady and several hospitality projects in the hotel and restaurant sectors have been commissioned — though clients are not ready to announce them yet.”

New employees hired in the last three months include new director of interior design Marlyn Zucosky, architect Joseph Como, interior designer Lauren Mammano, and marketing and business development coordinator Talia Manning. Two of the four positions are new, with both new positions in the architect/design area, as opposed to operations or marketing.

Zinder, a graduate of Syracuse University (Class of 1991) who earned his master’s degree in architectural design from Columbia University in 1992, says challenges in the upcoming year are primarily related to expanding the firm’s interiors business while continuing to grow, as it continues to take on large national and international projects. One example is the recently completed Sky on 57 restaurant in Singapore that the firm did for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation.

Further goals include increasing the depth of the firm’s interiors practice, while also pursuing more ground-up projects nationally and internationally. Says Zinder: “As a full-service firm, the goal is to oversee all of the components of a project from initial design to breaking ground, through the building process and ultimately fitting out the interior spaces. The additions to our staff will help the firm provide clients with this complete set of services.”

Despite the recession, JZA+D has come a long way in only a few years. The firm started in 2006 with Zinder as the only employee. It has grown steadily since, now standing at 10.

Zinder says that there are some signs that the Princeton area market is coming out of the recession. “The steady increase in office interiors indicates modest growth as companies add space for new employees,” he says. “Education, hospitality, and healthcare projects also indicate growth. We are cautiously optimistic.”

Joshua Zinder Architecture + Design (JZA+D), 20 Nassau Street, Suite 25, Princeton 08542; 609-924-5004.

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