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Multifamily Designs Drive Architecture Billing Index Up

By Eric Jay Toll for The Arizona Builder’s Exchange

All of the new apartment announcements were indeed leading economic indicators for the AIA’s  monthly architectural billings index – which is a leading indicator for construction spending.  September design billings jumped at the fastest pace since 2010. The 51.6 score was up from 50.2 in August—meaning there is a construction activity increase looming in the next nine to twelve months.

Any score over 50 on the index marks increased billings. The new projects inquiry index, however, was up from 57.2 to 57.3 for September. Kermit Baker, PhD, AIA’s chief economist says that the jump in September marks the fourth consecutive quarter of strong sector performance for multifamily residential. “The upturn in residential activity,” he said, “will hopefully spur more nonresidential construction.”

The West region leads the way with a September 2012 index pegged at 53.4, followed in the South with a 51.9. Both the Northeast and Midwest declined to 49.5 and 47.2 respectively. The West’s index grew from 51.2 in August, 45.3 in July and 47.4 in September, 2011. The figure is its highest mark in the last 12 months.

National sector index breakdowns show jumps in multifamily residential (57.3) and institutional (51.0), but declines in work on the boards for commercial/industrial (48.4) and mixed practice (47.8).