Reflecting the deteriorating conditions in the overall economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for design services from architecture firms recorded a steep decline, according to a new report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score of 33.3 for March reflects a decrease in design services provided by U.S. architecture firms (any score below 50 indicates a decrease in billings). During March, both the new project inquiries and design contracts scores dropped dramatically, posting scores of 23.8 and 27.1 respectively.
“Though most architecture firms have made quick transitions to remote operations, the complete shutdown of business activity is severely impacting architects,” said Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD, AIA chief economist. “The dramatic pullback in new and ongoing design projects reflects just how quickly and fundamentally business conditions have changed across the country and around the world in the last month as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Key ABI figures for March include the following:
- regional averages are 45.3 for the West, 44.2 for the South, 44.2 for the Midwest, 38.4 for the Northeast;
- sector index breakdown are 46.9 for institutional, 43.3 for multi-family residential, 41.9 for commercial/industrial, 40.6 for mixed practice;
- project inquiries index is 23.8; and
- design contracts index is 27.1.
The regional and sector categories are calculated as a three-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts, and inquiries are monthly numbers.