ABI Shows Design Activity Continues to Increase

According to a new report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), continuing its meteoric rebound, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) recorded its third consecutive month of positive billings. The ABI score for April rose to 57.9 compared to 55.6 in March (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings)—marks it hasn’t seen since before the Great Recession. During April, new project inquiries and new design contracts reached record highs with scores of 70.8 and 61.7, respectively.

Dodge Momentum Index Increases in April

The Dodge Momentum Index posted an 8.6% gain in April, climbing to 162.4 (2000=100) from the revised reading of 149.5 in March. The Momentum Index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, leading to construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. April’s gain marks the fifth consecutive monthly increase. Similar to February and March, it was due to a large increase in institutional buildings entering the planning stage.

Since hitting its nine-year low in January, institutional planning has rebounded substantially, climbing 77% over the last three months. Healthcare and laboratory projects continue to dominate the sector, pushing institutional planning 50% higher on a year-over-year basis. Conversely, the commercial component has slipped in recent months as
fewer warehouse projects have entered planning, though the sector is 21% higher than in April 2020. Overall, the Momentum Index is 31% higher than last April, which was the first entire month of COVID-19 shutdowns.

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