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US sees north-south divide in architecture billings

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The geographical chasm dividing the fortunes of architects in the US has widened further

Building designers based in the South and West enjoyed another increase in workloads in February, according to the closely-watched Architecture Billings Index.

But those in the Northeast and Midwest regions suffered further declines, the index from the American Institute of Architects revealed.

AJ reported last month that design workloads in a section of the country roughly from Kansas to New Jersey and up to the Canadian border were going backwards in contrast to those in the rest of the country.

The North-east registered just 48.3 on the ABI in February, where anything below 50 represents a decrease in billings from the previous month. This is the fourth successive month the region’s architecture market has shrunk in size.

The Mid-west posted 47.6 last month, marking three months of continuous decline.

Meanwhile the West scored 50.5, and the South 52.8.

Extreme cold weather has hit the Mid-west and North-east this winter, bringing a string of powerful snow storms to the region.

The AIA said this could be behind the poor performance in that area.

‘The unusually severe weather conditions in many parts of the country have obviously held back both design and construction activity,’ said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker.

‘The March and April readings will likely be a better indication of the underlying health of the design and construction markets.

‘We are hearing reports of projects that had been previously shelved for extended periods of time coming back online as the economy improves.’

The US as a whole saw billings increase last month, with a nationwide reading of 50.7.

Multi-family residential work increased in February across the US, as did commercial and industrial jobs.

But the institutional and mixed-practice sectors saw declines.

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