As temperatures dipped in November, so did the Architecture Billings Index (ABI). The ABI was 49.3, a 3.8 point drop from October's 53.1. Any score below 50 represents a decrease in billings. AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker seemed unfazed by the drop in billings. “Since architecture firms continue to report that they are bringing in new projects, this volatility in billings doesn’t seem to reflect any underlying weakness in the construction sector. Rather, it could reflect the uncertainty of moving ahead with projects given the continued tightness in construction financing and the growing labor shortage problem gripping the entire design and construction industries.” New projects inquiries were at 58.6, a touch above last month's reading of 58.5. The design contracts index rose to 53.5, an increase 1.8 points from October. Regional averages were mostly down: the Midwest sank to 47.8 from 52.6 last month, the Northeast dropped three points to 46.2, and the South dropped 0.8 to 55.4. The West gained 0.1 points over last month, coming in at 54.5. Billings by sector were a mixed bag. Multi-family residential and institutional billings climbed, while commercial/industrial and mixed practice fell. At 53.8, multi-family residential was up 1.3 points from October. Institutional billings gained 0.6 points in the same time frame. Commercial/industrial fell 4.1 points to 51, and mixed practice was at 47.6, an astonishing 7.3 point drop from the previous month. A quick note on the data: national index, design contracts, and inquiries are calculated monthly. Sector and regional categories are calculated as a three month moving average.
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Architecture Billings Index up for September, though architecture talent pool is not deep enough for demand
It may be getting colder outside, but the Architecture Billing Index (ABI) is heating up. In September, the ABI bounced back to positive territory, and has seen growth in two-thirds of the months this year. The AIA reported that the September ABI was 53.7, up 4.6 points from August. Any score above 50 marks an increase in billings. “Aside from uneven demand for design services in the Northeast, all regions are project sectors are in good shape,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker in a statement. “Areas of concern are shifting to supply issues for the industry, including volatility in building materials costs, a lack of a deep enough talent pool to keep up with demand, as well as a lack of contractors to execute design work.” To that end, the new projects inquiry was down to 61.0, a decrease of 0.8 points from August. The design contracts index was at 53.2, a drop of 2.1 points from August. The South (54.5) led the Midwest (54.2) by a hair for regional averages. The West, at 51.7, was up 1.7 points from August, while the Northeast placed last, at 43.7, a drop of 3.1 points from last month. By sector, commercial/industrial (50.9) was the only category with positive growth. Multi-family residential flatlined at 49.5, while institutional dropped 2.2 points to 51.5. Mixed practice dropped 0.2 points to 52.6. It's important to note that the regional and sector indices are calculated as a 3-month moving average, while the design contracts, inquiries, and national index are monthly figures.
The Architecture Billings Index declined in August after a relatively robust year. The August ABI score was 49.1, a decline of 5.6 points from July. In July, the new projects inquiries index was 63.7, while August's number decreased by 1.9 points to 61.8. Regional averages were 50.2 (West), 56.1 (Midwest), 46.8 (Northeast), and 53.8 (South). "Over the past several years, a period of sustained growth in billings has been followed by a temporary step backwards," AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker said in a statement. "The fact that project inquiries and new design contracts continue to grow at a healthy pace suggests that this should not be a cause for concern throughout the design and construction industry." By sector, mixed practice (52.8) and institutional (53.7) were in positive territory, while commercial / industrial (49.7) and multi-family residential (49.5) just skirted the positive mark. The design contracts index was 55.3 for August, an increase of 0.8 points over July.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, via their residential developer are set for, in the words of Bjarke Ingels, a "promiscuous hybrid" form of residential housing aimed at bridging the Uptown and Downtown areas of Hill District. The development will occupy a 28-acre plot of land around the former home of the Penguins the Civic Arena. Pittsburgh and the residents of Hill District must be ready for an iconic and maybe even bizarre piece of development, as the Danish firm specializes in the outlandish and obscure. Copenhagen, where the firm started, has become accustomed to Ingels' eccentric works, with some 26 projects having been built there already, but this is Ingels' first foray into a mid-size American city. BIG's Pittsburgh reception remains to be seen as no renderings have yet been released, though it's hard to see it not having a positive impact in the vicinity. The area to be developed, called the Hill District, is in need of rejuvenation and has been for sometime. According to the Post-Gazette, in 2010, over 40 percent of the local population was living below the poverty line but there is positive news as well, development projects in the area are on the rise—a supermarket opened in 2013, ending a more-than-30-year food desert. Quite what BIG will dream up, no one knows. Travis Williams, COO of the Penguins, claims hiring Mr. Ingels is a coup. "It will be something new and unique for Pittsburgh and I think the results are going to be phenomenal," he told the Post-Gazette. Quite what Hill District will make of it however, remains to be seen.
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.”
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.
The new boom in architecture work has been a godsend for once-struggling firms nationwide. But there’s a downside. Offices consistently tell us that a hangover of the brutal recession is that they’re hesitant to hire large quantities of new workers, which means more work for not enough people. This, of course, means exhaustion and stress. And so we’ll dub the new economy the Nervous Breakdown Boom until we can think of something better.
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
Art and architecture book nirvana Hennessy + Ingalls closed its Hollywood location on Sunday after just six years in business. The store had been situated in a bow truss structure inside Space 15 Twenty on Cahuenga Boulevard, just north of Sunset. "It's been a struggle from the get-go," said store owner Mark Hennessey, who bought the location a few months before the economy collapsed and finally "decided to pull the plug" after Space 15 Twenty substantially raised the rent. "People are still buying books but they're not buying them in bookstores," he added. "We need a new generation of architecture and design lovers. Right now they're not coming in as often." Hennessy + Ingalls will maintain its Santa Monica location, which Hennessey said is the largest of its kind in the country, but he acknowledged that he's been looking for smaller, more affordable space in Los Angeles's Arts District.
It looks like the Architecture Billings Index is finally ready to start 2015. As AN reported last month, the ABI failed to impress in January, posting a 49.9, which technically puts the outlook in negative territory with 50 marking the cut off. That’s right, negative territory for the first time in ten months. Thanks ABI, happy New Year to you, too. But what a difference a month makes. The ABI appears to be returning to a happier place. In February the ABI moved up to 50.4—that’s not a huge jump, but it does cross the crucial 50 threshold that indicates growth. This good news, though, comes with its own bad news. Here goes: While the ABI ticked up, the new projects inquiry fell from 58.7 to 56.6. The Design Contracts Index was also recorded at exactly 50.0. By region, the South (52.5) and Midwest (50.2) were way out front while the Northeast (48.0) and West (46.7) stayed in negative territory. By sector institutional (52.2) and commercial / industrial (51.4) led the pack, followed by multi-family residential (48.9) and mixed practice (45.3). “The health of the institutional market has been the key factor for positive business conditions for the design and construction industry in recent months, and it is encouraging to see that sector remain on solid footing,” AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker said in a statement. “However, we’re seeing some slowing in the other major construction sectors. Design billings for residential projects had its first negative month in over three years, and commercial design billings have seen only modest growth in recent years.”
Hey, one percenters, listen up (or pay someone to do it for you) because we've got some exciting news that might pique your interest. All the rest of you non-global-elite types can amscray. That's right, you heard us, get out of here. It's for your own good. Okay, here we go, the Real Deal reported that the penthouse in Philip Johnson's iconic Sony Tower, née the AT&T Tower, will be listed for the high, high price of $150 million. The triplex unit in the building-shaped-like-a-dresser that helped launch Postmodernism not only gives you 21,504 square feet of living space, eight bedrooms, and 18 bathrooms, but major bragging rights because you, my friend, will be living in the most expensive apartment ever sold in New York City. That is, until an LLC scoops up something even pricier. It's only a matter of time, so get that checkbook out and start scrawling.
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.”