WASHINGTON — On the heels of a period of weakness in design activity, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) took a sudden upturn in August. According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), as an 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 August ABI score was 51.4, following a very weak score of 45.1 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 56.9, up sharply from a reading of 53.7 the previous month.

“Based on the poor economic conditions over the last several months, this turnaround in demand for design services is a surprise,” said Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA, chief economist of AIA. “Many firms are still struggling, and continue to report that clients are having difficulty getting financing for viable projects, but it’s possible we’ve reached the bottom of the down cycle.”

Key August ABI highlights:

• Regional averages are 49 for the Midwest, 47.4 for the South and West, and 46.5 for the Northeast.

• Sector index breakdown is mixed practice (50.9), institutional (48.5), commercial/industrial (46.0), and multifamily residential (44.8). And,

• The project inquiries index is 56.9.

For more information, go to www.aia.org.

Publication date: 10/10/2011