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Rising from the ashes?

The US architecture industry is showing signs of a rebirth as for the third straight month the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) has gone up, according to the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

“It appears that the design and construction industry may be nearing an actual recovery phase,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “The economic landscape is improving, although not across the board, but doing so at a gradual pace. It is quite possible that we will finally see positive business conditions in the foreseeable future.”

As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to 12-month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The AIA reported the April ABI rating was 48.4, up from a reading of 46.1 the previous month. Although this score reflects a continued decline in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings), it is the highest score since January 2008 when revenue at architecture firms headed into recession. The new projects inquiry index was 59.6.

Among the month’s highlights are:
Regional averages: Northeast (51.0), Midwest (49.2), South (46.5), West (44.7)
Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (48.5), mixed practice (48.4), institutional (46.8), multi-family residential (45.8).

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