WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Architecture Billings Index is reflecting healthy and sustained demand for design services in nearly all nonresidential project types. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate 9-12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects reported the July ABI score was 54.7, down a point from a mark of 55.7 in June. This score still reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 63.7, up slightly from a reading of 63.4 the previous month.
“On top of what has been a flurry of design activity in recent months, some architects are reporting a break in the logjam created by clients placing projects on hold for indefinite periods, which bodes well for business conditions in the months ahead,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, Ph.D. “There is some uneasiness in the design community that rapid growth in construction costs could escalate beyond development capital and municipal budgets, which could trigger some contraction in the marketplace down the road.”
Key July ABI highlights:
- Regional averages: Midwest (58.2), South (55.7), West (53.8) Northeast (53.5)
- Sector index breakdown: institutional (57.3), mixed practice (56.8), commercial / industrial (53.4) multi-family residential (49.8)
- Project inquiries index: 63.7
- Design contracts index: 54.5
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.