Demand for design services grows in South, despite overall decline

Demand for architect services, an indicator of future construction activity, was down in July, according to the American Institute of Architects’ monthly Architecture Billings Index. The index rose to 48.9 in July, up from 45.9 in June, but it still represented a decline in demand for design services as does any number less than 50. The index is a forecaster for construction spending nine to 12 months down the line. It began the year with five consecutive months of increases before  trending downward in the late spring.

Though overall billings were down, the index relating to billings for new project inquiries was positive, registering 56.3 in July, up from 54.4 in June.

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“Even though architecture firm billings nationally were down again in July, the downturn moderated substantially,” Kermit Baker, AIA’s chief economist, said in a statement. “As long as overall economic conditions continue to show improvement, modest declines should shift over to growth in design activity over the coming months.”

Broken down regionally, the ABI showed positive activity in the South with a mark of 52.7 and decreased architect billings in the Midwest, 46.7, West, 45.3 and Northeast, 44.3. Multi-family residential construction also offered an exception to the negative numbers with an ABI score of 51.4. Commercial projects reported an ABI mark of 48.4. — Christopher Cameron