Design Demand Grows for Sixth Straight Month

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is a leading economic indicator for nonresidential construction activity, with a lead time of approximately 9–12 months. The index is derived from The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Work-on-the-Boards survey, which has gathered data on shifts in billings from architectural firm leaders for over 20 years.

The Most Recent Numbers - Reported in August 2017

For the sixth consecutive month, architecture firms reported increasing demand for design services as reflected in the July Architecture Billings Index (ABI). As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the July ABI score was 51.9, down from a score of 54.2 in the previous month. This score still reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.5, up from a reading of 58.6 the previous month, while the new design contracts index increased from 53.7 to 56.4.

“The July figures show the continuation of healthy trends in the construction sector of our economy,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “In addition to the balanced increases in design billings across all major regions and construction sectors, the strong gains in new project work coming into architecture firms points to future growth in design and construction activity over coming quarters.”

Key July ABI highlights:

  • Regional averages: South (53.8), Midwest (53.8), Northeast (53.6), West (50.9)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (55.8), commercial / industrial (55.4), institutional (52.0), mixed practice (48.4)
  • Project inquiries index: 59.5
  • Design contracts index: 56.4 The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.

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


Interpreting the ABI:

The survey panel asks participating architectural firms whether billings increased, decreased or stayed the same in the month that just ended. According to the proportion of respondents choosing each option, a score is generated, which represents an index value for each month.

  • An index score of 50 indicates no change in firm billings versus the previous month.
  • A score above 50 indicates an increase in firm billings versus the previous month.
  • A score below 50 indicates an decrease in firm billings versus the previous month.
  • NOTE: Index numbers cited for the last three reported months are preliminary.
  • The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.


National Architecture Billings Index

ABI National | amCharts

Source: The American Institute of Architects (AIA)

Regional Architecture Billings Index

ABI Region | amCharts

Source: The American Institute of Architects (AIA)

Sector-Specific Architecture Billings Index

Commercial/Industrial
Buildings related to commerce and industry. Office space, banks, retail, factories, etc.

Institutional
Schools, civic/government buildings, museums, hospitals, etc.

Multifamily Residential
Town homes, apartment complexes, condominiums, etc.

Mixed Practice
Buildings that include both residential and commercial/industrial spaces.

Sector ABI | amCharts

Source: The American Institute of Architects (AIA)

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