Billings have been up for four consecutive months, and the industry's index is at its highest level in three years. More billings mean more construction activity down the line, and that's a good thing. (Developers typically break ground on new projects nine to 12 months after they hire designers.) All of which is very good news for the architectural business, which has been in a slump since before the recession. From the American Institute of Architects:
As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the Architecture Billings Index reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lag time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects reported the November ABI score was 53.2, up from the mark of 52.8 in October. This score reflects an increase in demand for design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.6, up slightly from the 59.4 mark of the previous month. "These are the strongest business conditions we have seen since the end of 2007 before the construction market collapse," said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. "The real question now is if the federal budget situation gets cleared up which will likely lead to the green lighting of numerous projects currently on hold."
From the WSJ:
Neil Denari, a 55-year-old Los Angeles architect, gained international prominence after designing his first free-standing building, HL23, a 14-story condominium building along the High Line, an elevated park in Manhattan that was widely celebrated by the design community. Still, Mr. Denari had to lay off 12 of the 15 employees between 2007 and 2010, as billings fell 75%. Now, with commissions on the rise, Mr. Denari has staffed back up to 10 employees and has four new commissions, including an office building in Los Angeles and a mixed-use harbor-front project in Taipei, Taiwan. He says he has entered a competition to design a research institute in Cleveland. "We're going to be putting more energy into pursuing educational projects, because that's where a lot of the work is," Mr. Denari added.