Architects in the U.S. continue to stay busy, according to the most recent Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score released by the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

abijulyThe ABI score was 54.7 in July, down a point from a mark of 55.7 in June. This score, however, still reflects an increase in design services, as any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The new projects inquiry index was 63.7, up slightly from a reading of 63.4 the previous month.

“On top of what has been a flurry of design activity in recent months, some architects are reporting a break in the logjam created by clients placing projects on hold for indefinite periods, which bodes well for business conditions in the months ahead,” says Dr. Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist. “There is some uneasiness in the design community that rapid growth in construction costs could escalate beyond development capital and municipal budgets, which could trigger some contraction in the marketplace down the road.”

The ABI is reflecting healthy and sustained demand for design services in nearly all nonresidential project types, according to AIA. The ABI reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending.

Regionally, the Midwest had the highest score in July at 58.2, followed by the South (55.7), West (53.8) and Northeast (53.5). Sector-wise, institutional led the way with a mark of 57.3, with mixed practice close behind at 56.3. Commercial/industrial recorded a 53.4 score, followed by multi-family residential at 49.8.