Paced by a recovering market for nonresidential projects and expanding housing activity, billings at U.S. architecture firms increased 11 percent between 2002 and 2005 to reach $28.7 billion annually.The total construction value of projects that architecture firms directly designed approached $360 billion, accounting for almost three percent of overall U.S. Gross Domestic Product.These findings are from The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Business of Architecture: 2006 AIA Firm Survey which is conducted every three years to examine issues related to business practices of AIA member-owned architecture firms.The study also revealed continued improvement in diversity in the profession and an increase in the number “green” design projects.
“While the residential design category posted the strongest gains in share of firm activity during this period, the institutional market – led by the health care and education sectors – remains the largest source for architecture services,” said survey co-author, AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.“State and local governments were the leading architecture clients, followed closely by developers/construction companies.The most common project delivery method remains traditional design-bid-build, which accounts for nearly 60 percent of project activity at architecture firms.”
Top 5 sectors served by architects in 2005
Health care: 14.3%
Education (K-12): 11.1%
Multifamily residential: 10.7%
Education (college/ university): 7.7%
(Percent of firm billings)
Diversity continues to increase within profession
Women currently comprise 26 percent of all architecture staff, up from 20 percent in 1999, and the percentage of minority architecture staff has risen from 9 to 16 percent over the same period.
Baker added, “ Of particular note, women and minority architects have both made advances in leadership positions.Women principles and partners at firms have quadrupled from 4 percent in 1999 to 16 percent in 2005.Minority architects have also increased their share as principals and partners across the spectrum of firm sizes.”
Green architecture grows in popularity
Due to rising energy costs and growing concerns over the impact that construction activity has on the environment, there has been a rise in the use of sustainable (“green”) design principles.In 2005, just over one-third of firms with nonresidential projects and a quarter of firms designing residential projects characterized some of their projects as green.
Percent of firms with green projects:
Nonresidential construction: 34%
Residential construction: 25%
Residential remodeling: 22%
Additional details are available in the survey relating to fees and profitability, range of services offered, international work, marketing practices, IT expenditures, liability insurance, and continuing education at U.S. architecture firms.The survey is available at no charge to AIA members and can be ordered by calling Information Central at 800-242-3837, option 1.
About The Business of Architecture: The 2006 AIA Firm Survey
The survey was researched and compiled by the AIA department of market research. The survey data were weighted to reflect the population proportions of AIA member-owned firms in terms of number of firms in each of six size categories, as well as their geographic distribution in terms of the nine census regions.