While architecture billings moderated in September, design activity shows signs of remaining sluggish at U.S. architecture firms, according to a report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score in September was 49.7, which increased from the August score of 47.2. Scores below 50 indicate a decrease in billings. During September, the new project inquiries and design contracts scores were positive, posting scores of 59 and 54.4.

“Though still in negative territory, the moderating billings score along with the rebound in design contracts and inquiries serve as a continued note of caution for the industry,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA. “Continued weakness in the larger economy still doesn’t bode well for future design services, which will likely see continued volatility in the months ahead.”

ABI highlights include:

  • Regional averages: South (52.3); West (51.3); Northeast (46.3); Midwest (45.3)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (53.2); mixed practice (53.0); institutional (48.5); commercial/industrial (45.3)
  • Project inquiries index: 59
    Design contracts index: 54.4

Design contracts index: 54.4
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.