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US architects divided over state of industry

Data has created a confusing picture of the market across the Atlantic in recent months, with signs of a recovery appearing then fading away

For August alone, government figures showed a fall in construction spending while the Architectural Billings Index recorded a rise in design work.

Buro Happold North America managing director David Herd said it was possible that increased design work had not yet translated into cash for contractors.  

But he added: ‘The American Institute of Architects billing index was barely over 50 and has been like a rollercoaster for six months, so the green shoots could easily evaporate next month.

‘The recovery still feels very volatile and is often difficult to spot in the building sector.’

Herd said it was a tough time for architects in the US.

‘Potential projects are around but are being heavily contested both by domestic and international architects,’ he said.

‘The overall recovery mood is tempered by the current election uncertainty, debt ceiling uncertainty and tax uncertainty.

‘It will be spring 2013 before the US moves beyond these immediate issues and some clear sky will appear.’

However the picture varies wildly by region.

Andrew Whalley, deputy chairman of Grimshaw, said the firm had seen an increase in opportunities for its New York office.

‘On the East Coast things seem to be doing reasonably well,’ he said. ‘People are hiring and things seem to be good.’


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