U.S. architecture firms booked $44B in billings in 2008, more green, BIM

November 01, 2009 |

Gross billings at U.S. architecture firms totaled $44.3 billion in 2008, an annual growth of about 16% over the previous three years, according to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Business of Architecture: AIA Survey Report on Firm Characteristics. The study also showed sizable gains in the number of firms doing green design projects, as well as using building information modeling (BIM) software.

“While architecture firms are struggling considerably as the current economic slump continues unabated, there were extensive increases in revenue for the profession during the period this survey covered,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA.

Fifty percent of architecture firms report green design practices, up from 31% of firms in 2005. Firms with 10-49 employees had the biggest gains in green design work, which increased from 48% to 72% in the last three years. The use of BIM software has also doubled in the last three years.

There was a sharp rise in the number of minority licensed architects moving from 11% to 18%, with a 3% increase in the number of minority partners/principles, and minorities now compose 19% of all architecture staff. The gains have been smaller for women over the same period, with only 1% increases in the number of principals/partners and for all architectural staff. The number of licensed female architects remains 20%, but there were increases in the number of female non-licensed architects (3%) and interns (5%).

Other highlights from the survey:

  • Share of firms that have obtained BIM software has increased from 34% in 2005 to 69% in 2008

  • Nearly two-thirds of construction projects begun in 2008 had sustainable design features

  • New construction accounts for nearly two-thirds of design projects

  • The traditional design-bid-build delivery method is the most widely used by architecture firms

  • International projects accounted for 7% of billings and totaled slightly more than $3 billion in revenue in 2008.

Source: American Institute of Architects Business of Architecture: AIA Survey Report on Firm Characteristics
Healthcare 8.2%
Office space: 1.3%
Education (K-12) 9.0%
Education (college/university) 9.0%
Retail, food services 8.4%
Government/civic 5.9%
Hospitality 4.8%
Industrial 3.6%
Transportation 2.9%
Recreational 2.3%

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