Design demand remained flat in July

According to a new report by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), a decline in new design contracts suggests volatility in design activity to persist. Image courtesy AIA
According to a new report by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), a decline in new design contracts suggests volatility in design activity to persist.
Image courtesy AIA

Demand for design services in July remained flat in comparison to the previous month, according to a new report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

The architecture billings index (ABI) score of 50.1 in July showed a small increase in design services since June, which was 49.1. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings. In July, the design contracts score dipped into negative territory for the first time in almost a year. Additionally, July billings softened in all regions except the West, and at firms of all specializations except multifamily residential.

“The data is not the same as what we saw leading up to the last economic downturn but the continued, slowing across the board will undoubtedly impact architecture firms and the broader construction industry in the coming months,” said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “A growing number of architecture firms are reporting that the ongoing volatility in the trade situation, the stock market, and interest rates are causing some of their clients to proceed more cautiously on current projects.”

Key ABI highlights for July include:

  • regional averages in the West are 51.2, Midwest is 48.9, South is 48.3, Northeast is 48.3;
  • sector index breakdown for multi-family residential is 50.6, institutional is 49.8, commercial/industrial is 49.2, mixed practice is 48.9; and
  • project inquiries index is 54.9; and
  • design contracts index is 49.
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