After more than two years in the doldrums, design firms are starting to hear the rumblings of a recovery, but it could be many months before talk turns into action. With private developers still severely hampered by the credit crunch and many public entities facing budget shortfalls, the funding stream for projects remains a trickle.
The American Institute of Architects’ Architecture Billings Index surveying work on the boards at design firms showed that, in April, for the first time since activity started dropping in early 2008, billing levels were nearly flat at 48.4. Meanwhile, new project inquiries are on the rise with a positive ABI score of 59.6 in April. “It appears that the design and construction industry may be nearing an actual recovery phase,” says AIA chief economist Kermit Baker. “The economic landscape is improving, although not across the board, but doing so at a gradual pace. It is quite possible that we will finally see positive business conditions in the foreseeable future.”