Demand for Design Services Continues to Escalate Rapidly

According to a new report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) logged its second positive mark since the beginning of the pandemic and a score not seen since before the Great Recession.

AIA’s ABI score for March rose to 55.6 compared to 53.3 in February (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). Scores for both new projects inquiries and new design contracts strengthened to 66.9 and 55.7, respectively.┬áMarch also marked the first time in three years all building sectors and regions posted positive scores.

“As business activity at architecture firms moves sharply toward recovery, it is very encouraging to simultaneously see such positive indicators of future project work increasing in the pipeline,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker. “The activity architecture firms are seeing is a positive bellwether not only for the construction outlook but also for the larger economy.”

Key ABI highlights for March include:

  • Regional averages: Midwest (56.5); South (55.8); West (52.8); Northeast (50.8)
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial/industrial (57.0); mixed practice (54.9); institutional (54.4); multi-family residential (52.6)
  • Project inquiries index: 66.9
  • Design contracts index: 55.7

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

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