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Architecture Index Stays Positive In December

All Regions Except the West Show Improved Demand for Design Services
January 18, 2012
After struggling from a dearth of design projects for most of the last two to three years, the architecture industry is seeing tangible signs of recovery. For the second consecutive month, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) posted a score of 52, indicating growth in billings for nonresidential designers.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the December ABI score held steady, indicating an overall increase in demand for design services. The index is a forward look at spending on nonresidential construction 9 to 12 months in the future. Any score above 50 marks an increase in billings. The new projects inquiry index was 64, down just a point from a reading of 65 the previous month.

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The index ended 2011 in positive territory in November and December after falling back into the 40s over the summer. Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist, is cautious because of the index’s volatile nature.

"We saw nearly identical conditions in November and December of 2010 only to see momentum sputter and billings fall into negative territory as we moved through 2011, so it’s too early to be sure that we are in a full recovery mode," Baker said. "Nevertheless, this is very good news for the design and construction industry and it’s entirely possible conditions will slowly continue to improve as the year progresses."

Among property sectors, multifamily residential led with 54.3, followed by commercial/industrial, 54.1;institutional, 51.3 and mixed practice, 44.5. Across the country, all regions except for the West showed positive growth, led by the South (54.2), Midwest (53.1), Northeast (52.6) and West (45.1).The regional and sector indices are based on three-month moving averages.
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