After ascending in July to its highest rate since 2007, design for demand services continued to grow, but at a slower rate, in August, according to Washington, D.C.-based American Institute of Architects.
AIA's Architectural Billings Index, which reflects the nine- to 12-month lead time between billings and construction activity, achieved a score of 53.0 in August, down from a peak of 55.8 in July. Any score above 50 denotes positive growth in design billings.
The rate of growth slowed somewhat more dramatically in the Midwest than the nation as a whole. In August the region logged a score of 51.0, down from 54.1 in July and 56.3 in June.
By comparison, the Northeast logged a score of 58.1 in August, followed by the South with 55.1 and the West with 52.5
What's notable is the improvement regions have seen since April, when only the South managed to remain in positive territory. Economists then pointed to a number of factors for declining growth, including persistently cold weather resulting from winter's Polar Vortex.
By June, the tide began to turn.
“One of the key triggers for accelerating growth at architecture firms is that long-stalled construction projects are starting to come back to life in many areas across the country,” AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker indicated in a statement. “Long awaited access to credit from lending institutions and an increasing comfort level in the overall economy has helped revitalize the commercial real estate sector in recent months. Additionally, though, a crucial component to a broader industry-wide recovery is the emerging demand for new projects such as education facilities, government buildings and, in some cases, hospitals.”
In addition to the public/institutional sector (54.0), multi-family residential (58.1), mixed practice (57.1) and commercial (50.4) all saw positive growth in August.