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04/29/2013

The Business Rebound

Toppling domino metaphors: bad for the economy, worse for the AEC industry. Yet in 2008, it was hard to think of anything else,

By Erika Templeton

 

AIA Architectural Billings and Inquiry Indexes from Nov 1995 to feb 2013. View larger

Toppling domino metaphors: bad for the economy, worse for the AEC industry. Yet in 2008, it was hard to think of anything else, especially when the AIA’s Architectural Billings Index (ABI) was one of the first—and the hardest—to fall.

“We are the canary in the coal mine,” says Scott Frank, director of media relations at AIA. “Looking back to February 2008, right before Lehman’s September collapse, you can see it. Our numbers fall off a cliff.”

The February 2013 report may bring a sigh of relief, then, as the 9- to 12-month economic indicator hit its highest point since November 2007, with a notable jump to 54.9. February also marked the seventh consecutive month of across-the-board gains—the longest streak since January 2008.

Meanwhile, the ASID Interior Design Billings Index offers a snapshot of the ABI’s ripple effects.

“Our members are really the beneficiaries of what’s showing up in the ABI,” says Michael Berens, a consultant with ASID and former director of knowledge resources. “We’re capturing more of the smaller partnerships and sole proprietors, who tend to work and track billings more on and off.”

Overall, the January 2013 ASID Index was up 8.1 points from December, to 55.3.

Substantial gains in the commercial sector were led by Retail (58)—up 17 points—Office (53) and Healthcare (50) billings. Relative gains in Government (47), Entertainment (45) and Education (39) were a silver lining to lingering decline. Multi-unit Housing (40) declined in both real and relative terms, dropping 9 points since December, while Single-family Residential (56) bumped up 5 points.

 

 

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