The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) showed more acceleration in the growth of design activity nationally. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the August ABI score was 53.8, up from a mark of 52.7 in July. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 63.0, down from the reading of 66.4 the previous month.

“As business conditions at architecture firms have improved eleven out of the past twelve months, it is fair to say that the design professions are in a recovery mode,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “This upturn signals an impending turnaround in nonresidential construction activity, but a key component to maintaining this momentum is the ability of businesses to obtain financing for real estate projects, and for a resolution to the federal government budget and debt ceiling impasse.”

Key August ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: West (54.8), Northeast (54.4), Midwest (52.8), South (51.9)
  • Sector index breakdown: mixed practice (60.1), commercial/industrial (54.8), multi-family residential (52.1), institutional (50.8)
  • Project inquiries index: 63.0

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.