Showing a steady increase in the demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index continues to accelerate, as it reached its second highest level of the year. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lead-time between architecture billings and construction spending.

The American Institute of Architects reported the September ABI score was 54.3, up from a mark of 53.8 in August. This score reflects an increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 58.6, down from the reading of 63.0 the previous month.

“The prolonged economic downturn that has affected the design and construction industry has actually resulted in an increased productivity levels as reported by architecture firms,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker. “In addition to new approaches to business challenges, a very competitive marketplace, the utilization of new technologies and a renewed focus on efficiency have architecture firms realizing all-time highs in workplace productivity. These new efficiencies can greatly benefit clients from a project timeline and budget standpoint.”

Key September ABI highlights:

• Regional averages: West (60.6), South (54.1), Midwest (51.0), Northeast (50.7)

• Sector index breakdown: commercial / industrial (57.9), multi-family residential (55.6), mixed practice (55.4), institutional (50.4)

• Project inquiries index: 58.6