Search results for "multi-family residential"

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THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE…

AIA Housing Awards names the best new homes of 2019
The American Institute of Architects has announced the 12 winners of the 2019 Housing Awards, an annual best-in-show for new residential construction, along with renovation and restoration projects by U.S.-licensed architects. “It’s a life necessity, a sanctuary for the human spirit, and many people’s first and most personal encounter with architecture: the house,” wrote the organization. “By recognizing the best in home design, AIA Housing Awards show the world how beauty, safety, sustainability, and comfort can come together.” The winning projects were divided into four categories, ranging from compact single-family homes to large multi-family housing developments. The 5-member jury evaluated each for design excellence, as well as innovation, affordability, construction quality, site engagement, and social and environmental impact. Among the most eye-catching designs are Tiny Tower by Interface Studio Architects, a 38-foot-tall, steel-clad home, which was built in response to an awkwardly narrow city lot, and Mirror Point by MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, an 80-foot-long, shingled lake house, which recalls the vernacular of old fishermen’s sheds. The other recipients include Bates Masi + Architects, Anacapa Architecture and Willson Design, Johnsen Schmaling Architects, Kennerly Architecture & Planning, Abacus Architects + Planners, Snow Kreilich Architects, Marvel Architects, William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc., and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects, and Kevin Daly Architects. The AIA Housing Awards is now in its 19th consecutive year. Detailed information on each of this year’s winners and additional images can be found on the award’s website.
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Dolla Dolla Billings

Architecture Billings Index dips for the first time in two years
The AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI), the institute’s indicator of nonresidential construction activity, has contracted for the first time in 25 months. The ABI tracks architecture billings across the country, and as such, is indicative of what construction industry will be 9-to-12 months later. The March 2019 ABI, a measure of the national monthly billings rate, fell to 47.8 from 50.3 in February. The ABI measures month-over-month statistics, so a score below 50 means a decrease from the prior month, while a score over 50 reflects an increase. “Though billings haven’t contracted in a while, it is important to note that it does follow on the heels of a particularly tough late winter period for much of the country,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a press release. “Many indicators of future work at firms still remain positive, although the pace of growth of design contracts has slowed in recent months.” The regional statistics for March, which are calculated on a three-month basis instead of monthly, break down the figure further. According to the AIA, regional averages were as follows: the South 54.2, Midwest 48.7, West 47.2, and Northeast 43.5. By sector, which is also calculated on a three-month average, mixed practice was reported at 53.1, commercial/industrial at 47.0, institutional at 48.9, and multi-family residential at 47.7. The Project Inquiries Index for March, which is calculated monthly, was 59.8, while the Design Contracts Index, also reported monthly, held in positive territory at 50.8.
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JUST

Six emerging firms win 2019 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects & Designers
Young New Yorkers, Jennifer Bonner of MALL, and f-architecture, are among the people and firms to receive the 2019 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers. Now in its 38th year, the prestigious program created by the Architecture League of New York selected six emerging talents under the theme of Just, which explores architectural action within the discipline. The annual portfolio competition is open to designers who are 10 or fewer years out of an undergraduate or master’s degree program and live and work in North America. To submit for the 2019 prize, entrants were challenged to “consider the just in how they approach the practice of architecture,” by detailing their experimental research, design advocacy, or unique techniques and methodologies of practice. According to the Architectural League, “JUST explores architectural action with the understanding that a multiplicity of coexisting and contradictory attitudes may be constructive, liberating, and justified.” This year’s firms, selected from a jury that included past winners of the prize, will have the opportunity to lecture in New York in late June and showcase their work in an exhibition at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons School of Design/The New School. Check out the recipients below: Cyrus Peñarroyo of EXTENTS Ann Arbor, MI Peñarroyo and his partner McLain Clutter founded the Ann Arbor–based practice EXTENTS just two years ago and the duo are gaining widespread recognition for their unique use of contemporary digital tools in exhibition design, installations, and research projects. According to the Architectural League, the firm is “interested in architecture, urbanism, media, digital culture, and other instruments of life that can be impacted by design.” Peñarroyo currently serves as an assistant professor of architecture at Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, where he was the William Muschenheim Fellow in 2015-16. Last month, EXTENTS opened the installation, “Lossy/Lossless” (pictured at top) at Materials & Applications (M&A) in Los Angeles. Virginia Black, Gabrielle Printz, Rosana Elkhatib of f-architecture Brooklyn, NY Virginia Black, Gabrielle Printz, and Rosana Elkhatib founded the Brooklyn-based feminist architecture collaborative in 2016. Self-described as “a three-woman architectural research enterprise aimed at disentangling the contemporary spatial politics and technological appearances of bodies, intimately and globally, ” the trio works on temporary installations, exhibitions, and research-based projects. They simultaneously tackle writing, activism, and performance pieces meant to reach a broader audience. Gregory Melitonov of Taller KEN New York, Guatemala City, San José, CR International practice Taller KEN was founded in 2013 by Gregory Melitonov and Inés Guzmán. Based initially in New York and Guatemala City, the duo recently expanded their work to San José, Costa Rica. Their colorful and playful projects, ranging from commercial spaces to public installations and residential habitats, are created with “social and cultural relevance,” according to the architects. Taller KEN’s robust portfolio includes a mid-rise apartment complex with a verdant facade, a 4,500-square-foot café and event space, as well as a prismatic canopy built with recycled elastic ribbons. In 2016, the firm was named one of AIANY’s New Practices New York. Mira Hasson Henry of Henry Architecture Los Angeles, CA Founded in 2016, Henry Architecture is the personal practice of SCI-Arc design professor Mira Hasson Henry. In her work, she draws on common building elements such as windows, cladding, and eaves to explore social and architectural topics such as inclusion and identity, according to the Architectural League. Additionally, she utilizes different mediums such as models, wallpaper, photographer, and installations to examine various modes of architectural representation. Henry also serves as SCI-Arc’s DID Coordinator. Jennifer Bonner of MALL Atlanta, GA A native of Alabama, Bonner began MALL in 2009 when she was working as a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. Though she currently lives in Boston and serves as the director of the Master in Architecture II Program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, she’s interested in experimenting and building architecture in the American South. Inspired by her students and the flexibility that comes as an academic practitioner, Bonner uses MALL as a way to explore and invent new ways to represent architecture. Her most recent project, Haus Gables, is a cross-laminated timber structure that hacks the traditional multi-family residential typology and is designed around the gabled roof plan. Rachel G. Barnard of Young New Yorkers New York, NY Rachel G. Barnard founded Young New Yorkers (YNY) in 2012, a restorative justice project that provides arts-based diversion programs to teens prosecuted as adults by the New York State criminal justice system, as well as young adults up to age 25. By empowering participants to explore their creative side utilizing photography, video, illustration or design, the young defendants also learn skills related to accountability, leadership, responsibility, and choice, among others. Barnard has established partnerships with agencies across New York City and since its inception, Young New Yorkers had successfully graduated over 1000 participants who, by completing the program, are rid of their criminal record, jail time, or other adult criminal justice sanctions. The League Prize 2019 exhibition will be on view for free from June 21 through July 31.
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Don’t Park Here

San Diego eliminates parking requirements for transit-adjacent projects
In California, when it rains, it pours. At least, that seems to be the case when it comes to the flood of parking reforms taking place across the state. The most recent example comes from San Diego, where this week, the city council passed a new parking reform package that eliminated parking requirements for sites located within 1/2-mile of a transit stop. The effort also sets new parking maximum—instead of minimum—requirements in certain areas, including in the city’s downtown. There, a maximum of one parking stall will be allowed per residential unit, with the added restriction that parking must be built below ground if it is built at all. The city will now also require multi-family housing developers to provide so-called “transportation amenities” for their residents, including free transit passes, bicycle storage facilities, and on-site daycare facilities to help reduce automobile trips. In new developments that require at least one stall, the new rules will require one Americans with Disabilities Act–compliant parking stall. For buildings with no parking, no ADA-compliant stalls will be required. San Diego’s embrace of parking reform comes as Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer takes up the mantle of the insurgent “Yes In My Back Yard” (YIMBY) movement in a push to spur housing construction while meeting local climate goals. The reforms enacted in San Diego, for example, mirror some of the policies proposed in Senate Bill 827, a statewide pro-density, YIMBY-backed bill that drew controversy across the state. The efforts also mirror reforms taking place at the state level that have picked up steam under California’s new governor Gavin Newsom. San Diego, like many California cities, is mired with high housing costs and surging levels of homelessness. Though politically noxious until very recently, doing away with parking near transit has come to be seen as an entry-level reform for spurring housing construction because aside from fueling automobile-dependant lifestyles, parking is, simply put, expensive to build. A city report estimates that each parking stall adds between $40,000 and $90,000 to the cost of each residential unit. Those front-end costs translate to higher monthly costs for renters and buyers, costly increases for a state where many residents spend the majority of their incomes on housing and transportation. Further, from a design perspective, required parking imposes many limitations. Before the new ordinance, for example, parking requirements were tied to the number of bedrooms in each unit, meaning that larger residential units, the two- and three-bedroom configurations that are best suited for families, could require up to three or four parking stalls per residence. The requirements are particularly onerous for small- and medium-scale developments on tight urban lots, where required driveways, exacting stall dimensions, and other car-related required elements fundamentally shape not just building design but often, the number of housing units that can be built overall. Cities across the state are becoming wise to the high cost of free parking, however. San Francisco and Sacramento are pursuing their own city-led efforts to curtail parking requirements while Los Angeles’s Transit-Oriented Communities program has successfully sought to induce developers to build affordable housing in lieu of car stalls.
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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