Recent economic figures from the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) revealed that summer finished on a high note with a significant rise in the demand for design services. The ABI score for the month of August jumped more than a full point from July climbing up to 53.8 from 52.7 (any score above 50 indicates positive growth). AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, sees positive growth for the industry, but remains cautious about the future. “As business conditions at architecture firms have improved eleven out of the past twelve months, it is fair to say that the design professions are in a recovery mode,” Baker said. “This upturn signals an impending turnaround in nonresidential construction activity, but a key component to maintaining this momentum is the ability of businesses to obtain financing for real estate projects, and for a resolution to the federal government budget and debt ceiling impasse.”
All three regions except for the South experienced an upswing in billings. Numbers for the West (54.8) rose sharply by more than three points from July. The Midwest also made considerable improvement, jumping from 50.8 the previous month to 52.8 in August. The Northeast (54.4) remained steady, increasing by just a smidgen. The South (51.9), however, didn’t fare as well falling by more than two points.
All in all, the different sectors came out strong. The numbers for mixed practice indicated strong progress, surging from 56.9 to 60.1 in August. Commercial/Industrial (54.8) and Institutional (50.8) sectors remain in good shape, whereas, multi-family residential dropped down to 52.1 from 53.3 in July.
Even as the ABI score shows signs of improvement in the industry, unfortunately, the project inquiries tumbled from 66.4 in July to 63.0 in August.