Nearly all construction project types have seen increasing levels of demand for design services the majority of the year as reported in the Architecture Billings Index (ABI). As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to twelve-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the October ABI score was 53.1, down slightly from 53.7 in the previous month. This score still reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 58.5, down from a reading of 61.0 the previous month.

“Allowing for the possibility of occasional and minor backsliding, we expect healthy business conditions for the design and construction industry to persist moving into next year,” says AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “One area of note is that the multi-family project sector has come around the last two months after trending down for the better part of the year.”

Key October ABI highlights include:

  • Regional averages: South (56.2), West (54.4), Midwest (52.6), Northeast (49.2);
  • Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (55.1), mixed practice (54.9), multi-family residential (52.5), institutional (51.4);
  • Project inquiries index: 58.5; and
  • Design contracts index: 51.7.

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