Architecture billings up; interior design billings down

In February, the American Institute of Architects’ Architecture Billings Index marked its seventh consecutive month of growth in the U.S. demand for architectural design services. With a national score of 54.9, up from January’s score of 54.2, the architecture industry is seeing continued strength and a higher rate of growth of billings than it has seen since the bubble burst five years ago (a score above 50.0 in the index means that demand is increasing).

1 AIA billing

The score for project inquiries came in at 64.8, which is also up from the January score of 63.2. Project inquiries have now been growing for more than four years straight, after a shaky 2008.

February was another good month for the architectural profession in the U.S., which has been rolling for half a year. The 54.9 score for billings is the highest score, meaning the fastest rate of growth, since November 2007, which also saw a score of 54.9. The seven-month run of billings scores above 50 is the longest such run since 2007. The 64.8 for project inquiries is the highest score since January 2007.

2 AIA billing

At the same time, the Interior Design Billings Index of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2012, was its first decline after over a year of growth. The index reported at 47.2, indicating a contraction in U.S. sales from November, at which time it was 58.9.

ASID economist Jack Kleinhenz isn’t phased, though. “Looking back over the last three years, the Billings Index has always declined in December relative to November,” he said in a press release. “Based on the historical data and the positive status of the Inquiries Index, it is reasonable to expect a return to moderate growth this year.”

An inquiry index of 54.4 for the same time period indicates that ASID members are also upbeat about upcoming growth. Those who weren’t so sunny cited cautious clients and uncertainty about the U.S. economy.

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