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US mini-boom continues

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US architects have reported a third consecutive month of improved demand, giving further impetus to belief of a recovery in the country

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recorded a score of 50.9 on its Architectural Billings Index for January.

This was the third month in a row to see a score above 50, which reflects a growth in trade for design practices from the previous month.

It follows the Associated General Contractors of America reporting earlier this month that construction employment rose at its quickest for four years in December 2011.

AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said this week: ‘This recent showing is encouraging because it is being reflected across most regions of the country and across the major construction sectors.’

However, he warned architects not to get carried away.

‘Because we still continue to hear about struggling firms and some continued uncertainty in the market, we expect overall economic improvements in the design and construction sector to be modest in the coming months.”

Midwest America had the greatest improvement in architectural work, according to the AIA poll, with an average of 53.7.

The South and the North-east saw modest rises, but the West of the country saw demand tumble with an average of 45.6.

Grimshaw partner Andrew Whalley told AJ earlier this month that the market in New York, where he is based, was recovering well.

‘You can always tell when there’s a more buoyant economy – people start moving from office to office because there are new opportunities,’ he said. There is also evidence that stalled schemes are now reviving. The practice’s long-awaited scheme for the new Miami Science Museum, which Grimshaw won back in May 2007, finally broke ground this month (pictured).

However, he warned that it was a more mixed picture nationally.

‘Looking at figures for the US in general is a bit like saying Europe [is in recovery]. There is a vast range of markets: some are doing well, some are waiting to start.’

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