After beginning the year with a marginal decline, the Architecture Billings Index has posted three consecutive months of growth in design revenue at architecture firms. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the April ABI score was 50.9, down from a score of 54.3 in the previous month. This score still reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 60.2, up from a reading of 59.8 the previous month, while the new design contracts index increased from 52.3 to 53.2.
“Probably even better news for the construction outlook is that new project work coming into architecture firms has seen exceptionally strong growth so far this year,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “In fact, new project activity has pushed up project backlogs at architecture firm to their highest level since the design market began its recovery earlier this decade.”
Key April ABI highlights:
• Regional averages: South (55.3), Midwest (53.3), West (50.9), Northeast (50.7)
• Sector index breakdown: institutional (54.0), mixed practice (53.4), commercial / industrial (52.4), multi-family residential (49.9)
• Project inquiries index: 60.2
• Design contracts index: 53.2
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.