The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) is reflecting its strongest growth since
November 2007, according to the latest report from the American Institute of
Architects (AIA).  The ABI reflects the approximate nine- to twelve-month
lag time between architecture billings and construction spending.  AIA
reports that the January ABI score was 54.2, up from 51.2 in December.
This score reflects a strong increase in demand for design services (any score
above 50 indicates an increase in billings).  The new projects inquiry
index was 63.2, also up from the reading of 57.9 the previous month.

“We have been pointing in this direction for the last several months, but this
is the strongest indication that there will be an upturn in construction
activity in the coming months,” says AIA chief economist Kermit Baker.
“But as we continue to hear about overall improving economic conditions and
that there are more inquiries for new design projects in the marketplace, a
continued reservation by lending institutions to supply financing for
construction projects is preventing a more widespread recovery in the