Back in November, we told you how Taylor Swift’s hit song “Shake It off” perfectly summed up how we should feel about the Architecture Billings Index’s disappointing showing from the month before. Sure, the ABI’s momentum had slowed to 55.2 in October, but since any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings, we could just shake off any negativity. Now with 2014 gone, how did the Index shape up through the end of the year?
To the numerous naysayers who wrote in saying we couldn’t fit another Taylor Swift reference into our coverage of architecture billings data, watch this: As you may already know, we dropped the ball in December and did not post the freshest ABI data, creating what the superstar would call a “Blank Space.” Are we taking this Taylor Swift connection too far? Probably, so let’s move right to the numbers because we have a lot of catching up to do.
In December, the ABI was recorded at 52.2, that’s up from the 50.9 in November. The project inquiry index, unfortunately, did not have as good of a time—dropping from 58.8 to 58.2. But that dip was nothing compared to the design contracts index which fell from 54.9 to 49.9.
By region, the Southwest and West performed best posting 56.8 and 52.9, respectively. The Midwest just managed to stay in positive territory at 50.8 while the Northeast slipped below the line to 45.5. And by sector, it was multi-family residential (55.7) followed by institutional (52.5) and then commercial / industrial (51.2). Meanwhile, mixed-practice was all the way down at 45.8.
“Business conditions continue to be the strongest at architecture firms in the South and the Western regions,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, in a statement. “Particularly encouraging is the continued solid upturn in design activity at institutional firms, since public sector facilities were the last nonresidential building project type to recover from the downturn.”
Overall, 2014 was a good year for the ABI with 10 out of 12 months showing increasing demand for design services. It was also a very good year for Taylor Swift.