Architectural billings edge up, indicating building upturn

Weather affects Midwest's projects

George Ford
Published: March 19 2014 | 2:20 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:51 am in

An architecture billings index compiled by the American Institute of Architects, edged up in February to 50.7 from 50.4 in January.

The index reflects the approximate nine- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The new projects inquiry index was 56.8 in February, down from the reading of 58.5 the previous month.

Jessica Reinert, executive director of the Iowa Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in Des Moines, said severe weather in the Midwest and nationally have prohibited most design and construction activity.

"In the Midwest region, the average is a few points lower than it was at this time last year, likely due to the extended cold and deep freeze," Reinert said in a press release. "The coming months will likely give us a better idea of the status of design and construction markets as we see projects that have been shelved or postponed come back online."

The Midwest regional index reading was 47.6 in February, up from 46.5 in January.

The architectural billings index is derived from a monthly “work-on-the-boards” survey that is sent to a panel of American Association of Architects member-owned firms. Participants are asked whether their billings increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the month that just ended as compared with the prior month.

The monthly results are seasonally adjusted to allow for comparison with prior months.

Construction of some major projects in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City Corridor have been halted due to the cold and snow this winter. Contractors have been waiting for sustained temperatures above freezing to install roofing and other materials.

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