US Architecture Billings Index

After nine consecutive months of growth, January’s Architecture Billing Index (ABI) reported a “softening” in US design activity. According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the January ABI score was 49.9, down from a mark of 52.7 in December. This score reflects a “very modest decrease” in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in

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US Architecture Billing Index: Dec 2013 to Dec 2014

Architecture firms ended 2014 on a positive note, as business conditions improved at firms in December. The ABI score of 52.2 for the month, up from 50.9 the previous month, indicates that more firms reported improving business conditions in December than in November. Excluding a brief two-month downturn early in the year, business conditions at architecture firms were positive every month in 2014. And there remains more work in the pipeline, as the value of new design contracts continued to increase during the second half of the year, despite a minute downturn in December.

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This month, Work-on-the-Boards participants are saying:

• Business climate continues to improve, but it is not surging in most market sectors. Cautious optimism is how most would characterize it, as demonstrated by increased levels of inquiry about potential projects.
— 50-person firm in the Northeast, commercial/industrial specialization

• Slowly improving. Slightly more residential remodel work. Not much increase in commercial work.
— 5-person firm in the Midwest, residential specialization

• Recent decline in oil prices has resulted in several energy company projects being placed on hold/delayed. Also, state revenue projections and large donations are becoming a concern due to the drop in oil prices.
— 38-person firm in the South, institutional specialization billings). The new projects inquiry index was 58.7, down from the reading of 59.1 the previous month.