For the first time in over three years, the construction industry is seeing signs that the deep industry recession has bottomed out and the market is turning around. But among large design firms, no one is ready to pop any corks to celebrate. However, most firms believe the recovery will be a long, slow climb with some bumps along the way.
The results can be seen in ENR's Top 500 Design Firms list. The Top 500, taken as a group, had overall design revenue of $79.8 billion in 2010, down 0.2% from 2009's $80 billion and 11.9% from 2008's high-water mark of $90.6 billion. Not surprisingly, the domestic U.S. market was hit harder for the Top 500 than the international market. Design revenue for projects in the U.S. for the Top 500 fell 2.3% to $57.86 billion in 2010 from $59.22 billion in 2009. Revenue from projects outside the U.S. rose in 2010 to $21.96 billion, up 5.6% from $20.80 billion in 2009. However, domestic revenue dropped 15.1% over the two-year period from 2008 to 2010, while international design revenue fell 2.1% during the same time period for the Top 500.