Severe Impact on ABI Regardless of Quick Transition to Remote Operations

Reflecting the deteriorating conditions in the overall economy, demand for design services from architecture firms recorded a record fall, according to a new report today from the AIA. AIA’s ABI score of 33.3 for March reflects a decrease in design services provided by U.S. architecture firms (any score below 50 indicates a decrease in billings). During March, both the new project inquiries and design contracts scores dropped dramatically, posting scores of 23.8 and 27.1 respectively.

“Though most architecture firms have made quick transitions to remote operations, the complete shutdown of business activity is severely impacting architects,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The dramatic pullback in new and ongoing design projects reflects just how quickly and fundamentally business conditions have changed across the country and around the world in the last month as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Key ABI figures for March include:

  • Regional averages: West (45.3); South (44.2); Midwest (44.2); Northeast (38.4)
  • Sector index breakdown: institutional (46.9); multi-family residential (43.3); commercial/industrial (41.9); mixed practice (40.6)
  • Project inquiries index: 23.8
  • Design contracts index: 27.1

An update on 2020 projections for the nonresidential construction industry: The AIA also surveyed the members of the Consensus Construction Forecast panel the week of April 8, asking them to briefly update their projections for the rest of the year. That information can be found at https://www.aia.org/pages/6287230-an-update-on-2020-projections-for-the-nonr