While you were out grilling hot dogs and searching for the song of the summer (give it up, there isn’t one), the Architecture Billings Index was climbing to its highest score since 2007. In June, the ABI posted a 55.7, up significantly from 51.9 in May. The new projects inquiry index also had a great month, moving from 61.5 to 63.4. By sector, institutional was way ahead of the pack with a score of 59.1. It was followed by mixed practice (54.7), commercial/industrial (51.6), and multi-family residential (47.0). By region, it was Midwest with gold (57.2), South with silver, (54.9), West with bronze, (50.7), and Northeast (50.4) with whatever comes after bronze. A firm handshake and a slice of pizza? “The June numbers are likely showing some catch-up from slow growth earlier this year. This is the first month in 2015 that all regions are reporting positive business conditions and aside from the multi-family housing sector, all design project categories appear to be in good shape,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a statement. “The demand for new apartments and condominiums may have crested with index scores going down each month this year and reaching the lowest point since 2011.”
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At the 2015 AIA convention in May, former President Bill Clinton gave a keynote address to the unwashed masses. He praised collaboration among designers and other stakeholders, and even admitted that “If I had another life to live, I’d be an architect, especially in this age of climate change.” He is not the only president to speak of a childhood dream of designing buildings. President Obama said in a 2008 campaign speech that he also had aspirations to be an architect as a youngin’. We’re just glad these heads of states didn’t opt for fireman.
The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) doesn’t want to hear it right now–it knows it's not in a great place, okay? After the economic index started looking up last month—we’re talking 51.7!—the ABI dropped down to 48.8 in April. And, as we all know, any score below 50 means a decrease in billings. Here's a silver lining, though: the New Projects Inquiry did scoot up from 58.2 to 60.1. If we dig into the numbers, it becomes clear that one region (spoiler: the Northeast) ruined the party. The South reported an impressive 55.8 and the West wasn’t too shabby with a 52.9. The Midwest was “eh” at 49.9, but the Northeast was a real bummer last month posting a 43.2. By sector it was more of a mixed-bag with institutional and mixed practice both at 51.8, multi-family residential at 49.0, and commercial/industrial at 48.9. AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker is staying positive, saying in a statement: “The fundamentals in the design and construction industry remain very healthy.” This would be reassuring if it wasn’t almost exactly what John McCain said in 2008, ("the fundamentals of the economy are strong"), when trying to reassure voters the global economy wan't collapsing before their eyes. But to be fair to Baker, he has some specifics to back up his optimism. “The fact that both inquires for new projects and new design contracts continued to accelerate at a healthy pace in April points to strong underlying demand for design activity. However, April would typically be a month where these projects would be in full swing, but a severe winter in many parts of the Northeast and Midwest has apparently delayed progress on projects," he said.
You may remember that at last year's AIA conference in Chicago, YKK AP released a video titled Do The Architect as part of their "I am an Architect" series. Now, with the AIA conference going on in Atlanta, YKK AP has released the next installment. While last year's video was all a mashup of architects dancing, the new video is about how some people just know they are meant to be architects when they grow up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6E6HHPJiVmY
Everyone’s favorite billings index is once again posting some impressive numbers just as winter loosens its cold grip and summer makes its long-awaited appearance. As AN previously reported, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) had a slow start this year, but jumped into positive territory in February with a score of 50.4. Now, the ABI is taking things even more seriously, scooting up to 51.7 in March. And if you’re looking for more good news, we’ve got it: the new projects inquiry index jumped from 56.6 to 58.2. Want to talk regional and sector breakdown? Great, let’s talk regional and sector breakdowns. In March, the South was out front with a score of 54.5. It was followed by the Midwest at 51.0, the West at 50.4, and the Northeast at a very disappointing 45.8. By sector, it was institutional at 53.2, commercial/industrial at 53.0, multi-family residential at 49.7, and mixed practice at 46.2. “Business conditions at architecture firms generally are quite healthy across the country. However, billings at firms in the Northeast were set back with the severe weather conditions, and this weakness is apparent in the March figures,” AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker said in a statement. “The multi-family residential market has seen its first occurrence of back-to-back negative months for the first time since 2011, while the institutional and commercial sectors are both on solid footing.” https://youtu.be/7ziDqtSRVdo
The Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects this week honored tiny, often overlooked work in its fifth annual small projects awards, set to take place May 1 at Chicago's Architectural Artifacts. Architect P.K. VanderBeke took home top honors for her firm's Live/Work Gallery project, a “romantic ruin” sheltered within a century-old factory building in Chicago. Seven firms won additional awards for a variety of work, including a “box within a box” studio by Froeilich Kim Architects, Dirk Denison's cast aluminum table, and an elegant kitchen from MAS Studio. One winner was for work on another award trophy—MGLM Architects were recognized for designing a new Acanthus Award for the Chicago-Midwest Chapter of the Institute of Classic Architecture & Art. AIA Chicago executive vice president Zurich Esposito said the focus on small projects highlights good design work that isn't often celebrated. “With the improved economy, home and business owners are getting back to expansions, or thinking about tackling improvement projects,” Esposito said in a statement, “and it pays to hire an architect.” Six firms also received citations of merit. View a complete list of winners on AIA Chicago's website. Here are some more photos of the P. K. VanderBeke's Live/Work Gallery by photographer Janet Mesic Mackie (unless otherwise noted), provided by AIA:
Entice™ Series, an innovative new entrance system with features and components that have classified it as the first premium storefront of its kind. If you’re designing a premium exterior retail space, the Entice™ Series Entrance System is the only solution that retains the elegant appearance of a monolithic frameless glass entrance with minimal vertical lines and the unique ability to support door handle hardware on 1” insulating glass panels. This system is designed for use with all high solar and thermal efficient glass options including low-E coatings and tints. Entice™ delivers contemporary heavy glass storefront aesthetics while satisfying new energy code requirements and ASHRAE 90.1 air infiltration criteria. For added performance, patent pending vertical stiles with ultra narrow sightlines and door rails feature heavy-duty thermally broken cladding that provides U-Factors as low as 0.33. Patent pending SEAL-LOC Mechanically Clamping Seals also provide easy fabrication and glass replacement. This innovative system has an impressive pedigree, endowed with trusted CRL-U.S. Aluminum technologies, an AAMA 101 Performance Class LC-PG25-SHD, and a design that protects buildings from air/water infiltration, extreme temperatures, and mediocrity. The Entice™ Series will debut at AIA Expo 2015 in Atlanta, booth #1959.
Rick Bell who has led the New York chapter of the AIA to period of tremendous growth since it moved into their storefront on LaGuardia Place has resigned. The AIANY and Center for Architecture Executive Director Rick Bell have issued the following statement: “Rick Bell [has] offered, and the organization’s Board of Directors has accepted, his immediate resignation. An interim Executive Director will be named next week and a search to find a new Executive Director will also begin at that time."
The month of January is supposed to be the time of year when we put our best foot forward and onto a treadmill. “New Year, New Me,” we tell ourselves as we pretend to train for that marathon and convince ourselves that fruit is somehow an appropriate substitute for dessert. (It's not and you know that.) With all of this in mind, we expected some best-foot-forward kind of numbers from the January Architecture Billings Index (ABI). But, no folks, it turns out that the ABI not only lost momentum from last year, it plunged into negative territory. Well, to be fair, it didn’t really plunge into negative territory so much as it dipped a toe into it, posting a score of 49.9, down from 52.7 in December. Since any score above a 50 indicates an increase in billings, 49.9 is not the end of the world. By region, the South (54.8), West (49.3), and Midwest (50.8) all kept things positive, but the Northeast only managed a 46.0. Something similar played out by sector, with three of the four categories posting gains. Multi-family residential (51.4), institutional (53.0), and commercial/industrial (50.9), were all above 50, but then mixed practice went and ruined everything with a 46.9. The new projects inquiry index also had a sluggish start to the year, posting a 58.7 in January, down from 59.1 in December. The design contracts index meanwhile was recorded at 51.3. All things considered, AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker remained calm. “This easing in demand for design services is a bit of a surprise given the overall strength of the market over the past nine months,” he said in a statement. “Likely some of this can be attributed to severe weather conditions in January. We will have a better sense if there is a reason for more serious concern over the next couple of months.”
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.
The American Institute of Architects has announced the keynote speaker of its 2015 national convention. William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd president of the United States. The theme of this year’s convention is Impact… Stop chuckling. No? You won’t? Well, fine then. Your mind can stay in the gutter with its silly cigar references about Cuban missile crises and not inhaling. Eavesdrop has loftier things to contemplate, such as Bubba’s 1998 Pritzker Prize ceremony speech honoring Renzo Piano: “The country and the world needs its builders. Those with imagination and hope and heart who understand that with all the differences that exist in the world, our common humanity and our common relationship to the eternal and to our earthly home is far, far more important.” Roll that up and smoke it!