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Report: Demand for Design Activity Continues to Expand

Washington – The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) recorded its sixth consecutive positive month, according to a new report from The American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The ABI score for July was 54.6. While this was down slightly from June’s score of 57.1, it still indicates very strong business conditions overall (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings from the prior month). Scoring for new project inquiries also declined in July but remained near its all-time high at 65.0. The score for new design contracts was essentially unchanged from June to July with a score of 58.0.

“In prior business cycles, architecture firms generally saw their project work soften quickly and then recover slowly,” said AIA chief economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “So the strength of this recovery is unprecedented. Firm leaders who have leaned into this economic upturn by reinvesting in their firms, by hiring staff and upgrading their technology, will likely have a better year than those that anticipated a slower recovery.”

Key ABI highlights for July include:

  • Regional averages: Midwest (58.3); West (56.0); South (54.6); Northeast (54.1)
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial/industrial (58.4); institutional (55.4); multi-family residential (54.7); mixed practice (54.4)

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