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US architecture workload up as recovery gathers pace

All regions of the US enjoyed an increase in architecture workloads in July as the country’s recovery gathered pace

The American Institute of Architects’ closely-watched Architecture Billings Index read 52.7 in July, where any mark above 50 represents an increase from the previous month.

It means design workloads have increased in 11 of the last 12 months across the Atlantic, and shows a significant quickening in the pace of recovery.

Architects in the Midwest will be most pleased with the latest findings, as they end a three-month slide in billings in the region.

Although the Midwest, which includes 12 states from Ohio to Kansas and up to the Canadian border, saw the slowest growth of any region, a reading of 50.8 at least indicates a change in fortunes.

The Northeast saw the greatest growth in July, with an index reading of 54.3. It was closely followed by the South at 54.2, while the West registered 51.1.

Mixed-practice work was the fastest growing sector in the US, measuring 56.9 on the AIA’s scale.

The commercial and industrial sector hit 54.2; multi-family residential 53.3; and institutional work 50.6.

New project inquiries are flooding in for US practices, registering a healthy 66.7 on the index.

‘There continue to be encouraging signs that the design and construction industry continues to improve,’ said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker. 

But he sounded a note of caution.

‘We hear a wide mix of business conditions all over the country, ranging from “outstanding and booming” to “slowly improving” to “flat”.

‘In fact, plenty of architecture firms are reporting very weak business conditions as well, so it is premature to declare the entire sector has entered an expansion phase.’

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