Search results for "multi-family residential"

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Housing Battles Continue

California’s new legislators aim to reshape state housing policy
When it comes to housing reform, California’s new state legislators have hit the ground running. As the state’s new elected officials take office this week, a flurry of housing-related bills have been unveiled that, among other things, aim to further extend the state’s ability to set land use at the local level and streamline market-rate and affordable housing production. The efforts, geared toward developing a comprehensive solution for easing the state’s crushing housing affordability crisis, come after significant legislative gains—and a few stunning failures—made during last year’s session. With Democratic “supermajorities” in both the state assembly and state senate, and a campaign proposal to build 3.5 million new housing units by 2025 from now-governor Gavin Newsom, many are expecting significant legislative progress over the next few months. The stakes are particularly high for the state and its residents. California suffers from some of the highest rents in the country, a phenomenon that has fueled a homelessness crisis in the state. A 2017 report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found that over 134,000 Californians are experiencing homelessness, the highest unhoused population of any state in the country. Not only that, but the state’s cities also harbor extreme examples of wealth and racial segregation, phenomena that have had deeply negative outcomes for many racial-minority and working-class neighborhoods in terms of social equity, environmental justice, and other metrics. Because the overall residential capacities of California’s cities have been steadily eroded over time through “local control”–driven rezoning efforts and increased parking requirements, the geographic range of affordable and workforce housing is increasingly limited, as well. Further, large swaths of the state’s major cities are zoned exclusively for single-family housing, creating intense gentrification and displacement in the relatively fewer neighborhoods where multi-family housing is allowed while simultaneously pushing new development into “wildland-urban interface” areas most susceptible to fire damage. The result of these converging phenomena is that California is rapidly losing its working class population to other, more affordable states as poverty and sprawl in the state become more deeply entrenched. In recent years, as awareness and political will have begun to coalesce around the housing crisis, piecemeal initiatives have successfully begun to unfold. Below is a brief breakdown of a few of the major proposed housing bills unveiled Monday. A longer list can be accessed here. AB 10: A proposed bill to increase the state’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit by $500 million. AB 11: A proposed bill to reinstate California’s Redevelopment Agencies. Redevelopment Agencies existed in California prior to 2011 and worked across municipal lines to develop affordable housing and other projects throughout the state. The agencies were dissolved by then-Governor Jerry Brown in the aftermath of the Great Recession. AB 22: A proposed bill with potentially far-reaching ramifications that would ensure “every child has the right to safe and clean shelter and that no child should be without safe and clean shelter by 2025.” SB 18: State Senator Nancy Skinner has proposed a bill that would expand tenant protections while also establishing a statewide “Homelessness Prevention and Legal Aid Fund” to aid tenants against eviction and displacement. SB 50: California State Senator Scott Wiener has proposed a new version of last year’s highly controversial State Bill-827. The new measure builds on the previous attempt to lift height and density restrictions for sites located within 1/4- to 1/2-mile of rapid transit and includes advanced protections for existing tenant communities. Significantly, the bill would also induce up-zoning changes for wealthy neighborhoods that are located near job centers. It’s going to be a busy year.
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Wake Up, Dematerialize

L.A. artist designs glitchy facades to revitalize stale housing models
If you are one of the many people concerned that apartments in American cities are all starting to look too much alike, there might be hope for you yet. Los Angeles–based artist and educator Elena Manferdini of Atelier Manferdini is currently working on a collection of glitchy apartment facades that aim to break up the monotony of some of those developments. With her designs, Manferdini is hoping to "re-open a discussion on the role of fantasy in art and architecture" by bringing beguiling geometric patterns and bright colors to at least seven multi-family complexes envisioned by FMB Development and a collection of other local architects, including Archeon Group, Dean Larkin Design, and Open Architects. Los Angeles–based FMB bills itself as a "community-oriented developer of luxury residential real estate," including the types of market-rate apartments that some Los Angeles homeowners might view as obtrusive in their neighborhoods. That's where Manferdini steps in by designing structures with interlocking blocks of patterned surfaces and expanses of varying opacity that work to simultaneously highlight and break down each of the proposed buildings. Manferdini explained that the designs are driven by the idea that, "facades are important for the city at large because they are inevitably the background of our public imagination." Manferdini added, "Facades negotiate how the privacy of human interactions come to terms with a surrounding cultural context." In L.A.'s densely-packed, low-slung urban neighborhoods, where privacy comes at a premium, sites are strictly limited in terms of height and allowable bulk, decorative elements help play a role in bridging the visual gap between existing housing stock and the types of multi-unit complexes needed to address the region's housing crisis. Manferdini's work for FMB builds on a series of exhibitions she crafted as part of her artistic practice, including the Graham Foundation–supported Building the Picture, a collection of drawing-photograph hybrid images that were exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015. For the exhibition, Manferdini created a series of fictional patterned facades partially inspired by some of the Chicago-based work of Mies van der Rohe. The layered, abstracted images proposed methods for obfuscating the underlying scale and window patterning of the hypothetical apartment structures by combining oblique and projected patterns on a collection of planar and faceted building forms. Manferdini explained further, saying, "The work insinuates that surfaces now have an unprecedented ability to be embedded simultaneously with optical affect and cultural associations," a concept that is ideally suited for testing in the real world through its application on the apartment buildings in question, according to the artist.

At 1017 Sierra Bonita, for example, Manferdini uses blue, white, and black Trespa panels, custom fritted glass, and gray stucco to lend a three-story apartment block atmospheric qualities. Hanging plants and balconies filled with hedges and landscape design by Green Republic Landscapes further dematerialize the five-unit building.

The Trespa panels make another appearance in red, blue, and black at 1408 Poinsettia, where Manferdini has arranged ascending striped patterns with vertical building elements that camouflage each of the three-bedroom small-lot subdivision homes. At 1139 N. Detroit, Manferdini pursues a more subdued approach by using custom-designed mosaic tiles and painted stucco. In each of the projects, Manferdini works to play off of the architectural elements using unconventional patterning and color choices, perhaps a welcome approach for Hardie-panel weary observers. The designs are due to come online soon: Many of the projects are currently undergoing planning review, and 1408 Poinsettia is currently under construction.
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Open Season

The Cultural Landscape Foundation announces threatened landscapes of 2017
On October 12, The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) released its annual assessment of “threatened and at-risk landscapes” in the United States. This year’s thirteen sites were organized based on five themes: “monetization of open space,” in which parks come under pressure to generate profit; “resource extraction,” which is under particular attack by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who proposed relaxing management rules for six monuments, exposing them to mining and logging; “park equity,” charging to use parks or converting them to sport and cultural venues; “detrimental effects of shadow,” where the surrounding development is built up to the point where the park no longer receives adequate light; and “the devaluation of cultural lifeways,” in which ancestral lands and other sites of cultural significance are threatened. These landscapes span a broad set of environments, from Greenacre Park in New York City to the Boundary Waters wilderness area in northeastern Minnesota. Twelve sites are listed below. The others, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada, are three of the six threatened National Monuments that come under threat if the Antiquities Act of 1906 allows Zinke to adjust boundaries that could open up the potential of mining and drilling. Discovery Park Seattle At over 530 acres in the Puget Sound, Discovery Park is the largest public park in Seattle. Featuring work from the Olmsted Brokers, Dan Kiley, Ian Tyndall, and Peter Ker Walker, the park is under threat from an art campus that would, among other things, host concerts in a 600-seat auditorium. Coyote Valley San Jose, California Under threat of suburban sprawl from the surrounding Silicon Valley, Coyote Valley is 7,400 acres of undeveloped land that is used for farming, a corridor for wildlife, and flood control. Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area Northeastern Minnesota One million acres of forestland that was protected by the 1964 Wilderness Act is now under threat of mining. Jackson Park Chicago The Obama Presidential Center has claimed a portion of the iconic 1871 park, designed by Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, for its own. Fort Negley Nashville Formerly a Civil War fortification built by enslaved African Americans, Fort Negley Park is now a site of cultural and historic significance. The City of Nashville is proposing to build a mixed-use development on 40 percent of the park that is currently an abandoned sports stadium and parking lot rather than return the site to park land. Sanctuary Woods Milwaukee Originally known as the Milwaukee County Asylum for the Insane, the 1880 structure by Henry Koch and its surrounding gardens was a precursor to healing gardens and designing for health. A plan to build a multi-family residential development on the site was announced earlier this year. Audubon Park and City Park New Orleans In a well-intentioned attempt to fund its park system (which is in serious need of funds), the managers of Audubon and City Parks now charge a fee for entry, limiting its public use. Boston Common Boston Boston Common and its adjacent garden, established in 1836, are under threat of a 700-foot-tall tower that would case a shadow on the space. State House Grounds Rhode Island Surrounding a Beaux-Arts building by McKim, Mead & White, the lawn and grounds could be replaced by a proposed “intermodal transportation center.” Greenacre Park New York A tiny—60 by 120 feet—park designed by Sasaki, Dawson, & DeMay could soon be devoid of sunlight thanks to new zoning regulations in Midtown Manhattan. Battery Park City New York A bid to redesign the 92-acre park in the name of resiliency could dramatically change its current landscape. James River Jamestown, Virginia Currently the largest tributary to the Chesapeake Bay, the river is under threat by a conditional permit that would build 17 transmission towers across the river and another 27 towers throughout the region.
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UV-Activated

Daniel Libeskind’s latest residence is clad in self-cleaning, air-purifying tiles
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This direct commission in Germany brought Daniel Libeskind back to Berlin for his first residential project in the city. The project, located on a busy corner in the Mitte neighborhood in central Berlin, presented a design challenge: How to carve out 73 desirable one- to four-bedroom apartments on a plot measuring a little less than half an acre?
  • Facade Manufacturer Casalgrande Padana (tile), Medicke Metallbau (windows)
  • Architects Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG (architect of record); Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG, Zurich, with Studio Libeskind (joint venture partner)
  • Facade Installer Medicke Metallbau (facade sub-contractor); PORR (general contractor)
  • Facade Consultants ARUP Berlin (facade planning); Ingenierburo Franke (facade planning); PORR (structural engineer)
  • Location Berlin, Germany
  • Date of Completion 2017
  • System ventilated facade on concrete structure
  • Products Fractile tiles finished in Bios Self-Cleaning Ceramics technology with HYDROTECT treatment; CP-VENTIL-KA ventilated facade system; Keil micro-anchors
The result is a faceted mid-rise building that negotiates Berlin’s zoning code with varied setbacks, angular windows, and canted walls. In select locations, the building envelope subtly pulls away from the primary facade, creating intimate outdoor balcony nooks. Stefan Blach, principal at Studio Libeskind, said the balconies not only give the facade more depth but also enhance the quality of the units. “There are 70 units, most of which are very small, and even those have a balcony that wraps from the living room to the bedroom. A lot of work went into developing these units—each plan is unique. The coordination between facade and plan was really special in this building.” The project is a showcase for Libeskind’s signature tile design, which wraps all of the street facades and as well as some key interior moments. Produced by manufacturer Casalgrande Padana, the three-dimensional geometric-patterned stoneware tiles, named Fractile, measure approximately two-feet by four-feet and feature unique advanced technology to self-clean and aid in air purification. This is achieved by the application of a specialized titanium dioxide coating that breaks down organic deposits when exposed to the Sun's UV light. The coating is the result of a master agreement signed between Casalgrande Padana and TOTO, a global leader in photocatalytic technology. Fractile is part of Casalgrande’s ongoing efforts to produce bioactive ceramic products capable of interacting with the environment. Of the 3,600 tiles supplied, only 500 were made in a standard production format. The remaining 3,100 tiles are custom shapes made using controlled linear and water jet cuts according to precise drawings. Additionally, every tile was specifically positioned to reflect the A or B sides of the pattern (the two positions of the tiles when rotated by 180 degrees). This specificity allowed the architects to control the overall patterning and reflective effects of the facade. The tiles were delivered in 15 different batches to the site and, due to the complexity of the order, each piece was identified with a unique number to ensure they were correctly positioned. The delivery of the tiles took nine months, with installation taking an additional four months—an outcome that the manufacturer called “high satisfactory, given the parametric complexity of the shapes that needed covering.” The ventilated facade was assembled utilizing a standard anchorage system from Casalgrande in combination with micro-anchors from KEIL. The facade has been built by general contractor PORR Germany and specialized facade consultant Medicke Metallbau. The building had to adhere to the 2013 EnEV energy code, one of the most stringent codes in the world. This limited the quantity of glazing in the project and, in response to the code, the project team specified high-performance triple-glazed units with external louvers. Operable units conform to a standard dimension, while fixed panels absorb irregular geometries of the facade. Studio Libeskind’s project team, led by architect Jochen Klein, encountered some zoning regulations as well, which affected massing strategy. The maximum height of the building was determined by zoning regulations. The required setback from the centerline of the street is minimum 0.4 times the building height, a rule that works to limit the height of the building. This introduced the need for a parapet configuration to allow for a primary street front volume and secondary taller penthouse volume. Blach said the overall height, which was taller than neighboring buildings, was successfully negotiated by the project team due to its prominent corner lot location. "There is a tradition in Berlin that the corner buildings are sometimes even a full story higher than their neighbors." Another regulation relates to the oriels, which are not allowed to consume more than one-third the overall length of the facade, and are limited to a projection of around five feet from the building. In the case of Sapphire, an agreement with the city allowed to the architects to cantilever a freeform volume of space over the sidewalk beyond the plane of the primary facade. With retail shops on the ground floor, underground parking, and a common outdoor area, this high-spirited, contemporary complex stands on land where the Wulffersche iron factory once operated, before being expropriated from its Jewish owners during World War II. Blach said the individuality of the plan and spatial layouts and the translation to the facade were the celebrated successes of this project. "Catering the building to all of the individual tenants who moved in was very special for us—each has inherited a unique apartment that's unlike their neighbors."
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Streaky

Architecture Billings Index makes it six positive scores in a row
It's six in a row for the Architecture Billings Index (ABI). This July, the reported score from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) was 51.9. Despite this being down from June's 54.2, the score means that the ABI hasn't been in the red since January. Other scores, however, were up from the previous month. The projects inquiry index increased by 0.9 from 58.6 to 59.5 and likewise, the design contracts index increased from 53.7 to 56.4. This six-month streak follows last year's trend when six positive scores came during the same months. In 2016, however, the tide turned in August when that positive stretch was broken. The swing that year resulted in a dip from 51.5 to 49.7, continuing a downward trend from the previous months, and a similar scenario is being set up here. The ABI is the leading economic indicator of construction activity. It reflects a 9 to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The national index, design contracts, and inquiries are calculated monthly, while the regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average. The index runs on a scale from 0-100 and scores above 50 suggest growth while anything below implies negativity in the market “The July figures show the continuation of healthy trends in the construction sector of our economy,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a press release. “In addition to the balanced increases in design billings across all major regions and construction sectors, the strong gains in new project work coming into architecture firms points to future growth in design and construction activity over coming quarters.” Key July ABI highlights: • Regional averages: South (53.8), Midwest (53.8), Northeast (53.6), West (50.9) • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (55.8), commercial / industrial (55.4), institutional (52.0), mixed practice (48.4) • Project inquiries index: 59.5 • Design contracts index: 56.4
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5 in-a-row

Architecture firms enjoy strong end to the year’s second quarter
Marking five consecutive months of positive scores, the Architecture Billings Index score for June prolonged the purple patch for U.S. architecture firms. If last year is anything to go by, the billings index did not drop until August. For June, a score of 54.2 was reported, a steady increase from May's 53.0. While scores overall increased, particularly on the East Coast, the projects inquiry index was 58.6, down from a reading of 62.4. Also on the decrease, though staying positive, was the design contracts index which dipped from 54.8 to 53.7. The ABI is the leading economic indicator of construction activity. It reflects a 9 to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The national index, design contracts, and inquiries are calculated monthly, while the regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average. The index runs on a scale from 0-100 and scores above 50 suggest growth while anything below implies negativity in the market “So far this year, new activity coming into architecture firms has generally exceeded their ability to complete ongoing projects,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD in a press release. “Now, firms seem to be ramping up enough to manage these growing workloads.” Key June ABI highlights:
  • Regional averages: South (54.8), West (53.1), Midwest (51.9), Northeast (51.5)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (57.1), mixed practice (53.8), institutional (52.6), commercial / industrial (52.1)
  • Project inquiries index: 58.6
  • Design contracts index: 53.7
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ABI

Billings Index continues its 2017 positive streak
Off the back of ending the first quarter of the year on a high, and in the wake of what is usually the year's peak construction season, the Architectural Billings Index (ABI) has remained strong. This May, a score of 53.0 marked the fourth positive month in a row as the Billings Index stays true to last year's good form. If that continues, we can expect two more months of more-or-less the same. May was also an improvement on April, which reported a score 50.9. Also on the up was the projects inquiry index which rose from 60.2 to 62.4, and the design contracts index which increased slightly from 53.2 to 54.8. The ABI is the leading economic indicator of construction activity. It reflects a 9 to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The national index, design contracts, and inquiries are calculated monthly, while the regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average. The index runs on a scale from 0-100 and scores above 50 suggest growth while anything below implies negativity in the market. “The fact that the data surrounding both new project inquiries and design contracts have remained positive every month this year, while reaching their highest scores for the year, is a good indication that both the architecture and construction sectors will remain healthy for the foreseeable future,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. in a press release. “This growth hasn’t been an overnight escalation, but rather a steady, stable increase.” Key May ABI highlights: •           Regional averages: South (56.1), West (52.3), Midwest (50.4), Northeast (46.5) •           Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (55.8), multi-family residential (51.3), commercial / industrial (51.2), institutional (51.2) •           Project inquiries index: 62.4 •           Design contracts index: 54.8
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ABI

Billings continue to increase as construction season nears peak
Three is the magic number for the Architectural Billings Index, it seems, as April marks a hat-trick of consecutive positive scores. The three-month long positive streak will be welcome news, but not all within the industry will be surprised that April reported a positive score of 50.9 as the construction season approaches its zenith. This score, however, was down from March's 54.3. Meanwhile, Design Contracts and Inquiries were both up from the previous month, rising to 53.2 and 60.2 from 52.3 and 59.8 respectively. If last year is anything to go by, we can expect three more months of positive scores. The ABI is the leading economic indicator of construction activity. It reflects a 9 to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The national index, design contracts, and inquiries are calculated monthly, while the regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average. The index runs on a scale from 0-100 and scores above 50 suggest growth while anything below implies negativity in the market. “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 a press release. “In fact, new project activity has pushed up project backlogs at architecture firms 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
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ABI

Billings Index continues strong form, ending first quarter on a high
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has continued its surge as the first quarter of the year ended and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported a March ABI score of 54.3, up from 50.7 the previous month. The new year ABI hangover (now seemingly customary) is now all but a distant memory as the ABI established a two-month-long positive streak. Last year, the ABI score for January was 49.6 but the following six months were all positive scores. Additionally, the new projects inquiry index was 59.8, down from a reading of 61.5 the previous month, while the new design contracts index dipped from 54.7 to 52.3. So let's not get ahead of ourselves. The ABI is the leading economic indicator of construction activity. It reflects a 9 to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The national index, design contracts, and inquiries are calculated monthly, while the regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average. The index runs on a scale from 0-100 and scores above 50 suggest growth while anything below implies negativity in the market. “The first quarter started out on uneasy footing, but fortunately ended on an upswing entering the traditionally busy spring season,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “All sectors showed growth except for the commercial/industrial market, which, for the first time in over a year displayed a decrease in design services.” Key March ABI highlights: • Regional averages: Midwest (54.6), South (52.6), Northeast (52.4), West (50.2) • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (54.6), mixed practice (53.7), institutional (52.9), commercial / industrial (49.8) • Project inquiries index: 59.8 • Design contracts index: 52.3
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Back in the black

Architecture Billings Index witnesses resurgence after bad start to 2017
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is over its little January wobble. As early 2017 indicated a slow start to the year, the dip into the red proved only temporary as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the February ABI score was 50.7, up from a score of 49.5 in the previous month. December, by contrast, produced a score of 55.6. The score suggests that January was merely a minor blip, following the trend of recent years where the first month of the year was the only negative among positive scores. Last year, the AIA reported positive results for the following six months after a sketchy start to 2016 and this year looks on track to emulate this. The ABI is the leading economic indicator of construction activity. It reflects a 9 to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The national index, design contracts, and inquiries are calculated monthly, while the regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average. The index runs on a scale from 0-100 and scores above 50 suggest growth while anything below implies negativity in the market. “The sluggish start to the year in architecture firm billings should give way to stronger design activity as the year progresses,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker in a press release. “New project inquiries have been very strong through the first two months of the year, and in February new design contracts at architecture firms posted their largest  monthly gain in over two years.” Key January ABI highlights:
  • Regional averages: Midwest (52.4), South (50.5), Northeast (50.0), West (47.5)
  • Sector index breakdown: institutional (51.8), multi-family residential (49.3), mixed practice (49.2), commercial / industrial (48.9)
  • Project inquiries index: 61.5
  • Design contracts index: 54.7
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New Year Blues

Architecture Billings Index indicates slow start to 2017

This isn't fake news, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has dipped, and no, Jimmy Kimmel isn't here to rectify the mistake. The bad start to the year comes off the back of what had been a positive end to 2016 for the ABI. In January, the AIA reported an ABI a score of 49.5, a contrast to December's 55.6.

Indeed, the last month of 2016's score indicated the largest increase in design services for that year, but perhaps it is an unjust comparison to make. The previous two January scores were slightly negative and came after positive December scores. Last year, the ABI score for January was 49.6 but the following six months were all positive scores. So perhaps we shouldn't be too worried, yet.

The ABI is the leading economic indicator of construction activity. It reflects a 9 to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The national index, design contracts, and inquiries are calculated monthly, while the regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average. The index runs on a scale from 0-100 and scores above 50 suggest growth while anything below implies negativity in the market. “This small decrease in activity, taking into consideration strong readings in project inquiries and new design contracts, isn’t exactly a cause for concern,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a press release. “The fundamentals of a sound nonresidential design and construction market persist.” Key January ABI highlights:
  • Regional averages: South (54.2), Northeast (53.0), Midwest (52.4), West (48.8)
  • Sector index breakdown: institutional (54.6), commercial / industrial (53.4), mixed practice (48.1), multi-family residential (48.1)
  • Project inquiries index: 60.0
  • Design contracts index: 52.1
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Architecture Billings Index

No drama as ABI ends on much-predicted positive note

When the AIA said the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) was honing in on a positive note to end the year, most people believed them. The ABI had been on an upward trend two months prior and December's continuation of this wasn't all that unthinkable.

A December score of 55.9 to cap the year off was up from November's (also positive) score of 50.6 and marked the third positive score in a row off the back off a two-month slump before hand. December's score for the ABI indicates the largest increase in design services in 2016. Though project enquiries came down from 59.5 to 57.2, design contracts rose to 51.2 from 50.2.

The ABI is the leading economic indicator of construction activity. It reflects a 9 to 12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The national index, design contracts, and inquiries are calculated monthly, while the regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average. The index runs on a scale from 0-100 and scores above 50 suggest growth while anything below implies negativity in the market.

The sharp upturn in design activity as we wind down the year is certainly encouraging. This bodes well for the design and construction sector as we enter the new year”,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD in a press release. “However, December is an atypical month for interpreting trends, so the coming months will tell us a lot more about conditions that the industry is likely to see in 2017.”  

Key December ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: Midwest (54.4), Northeast (54.0), South (53.8), West (48.8)
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (54.3), institutional (53.3), mixed practice (51.9), multi-family residential (50.6)
  • Project inquiries index: 57.2
  • Design contracts index: 51.2