Similar to consumer sentiment, construction is often seen by analysts as a bellwether for the economy as a whole. If recent reports on the latest architectural and construction trends are any indication, the U.S. economy may indeed be back on track, at least so long as obstacles like the potential fiscal cliff are averted.
According to a recently released report from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), demand for design services continued to improve in October, as the month’s architecture billings index increased by 1.2 points to 52.8. Reuters reports that the index is a major indicator of construction activity, particularly construction spending approximately 9 to 12 months in advance.
Kermit Baker, AIA chief economist, told the media outlet that the index’s third straight month above 50 appears to be a true sign of palpable recovery.
“It’s beginning to look like demand for design services has turned the corner,” Baker noted.
More Indicators of Good News
As 2012 wraps up, more and more reports are predicting relatively strong growth in the commercial construction sector heading into 2013. Management consulting and investment banking provider FMI, for instance, predicted in its recently released third quarter 2012 Construction Outlook report that total construction put-in-place for 2013 is expected to increase by 8 percent.
According to Equipment World, growth in the non-residential construction segment will be led by the lodging and transportation sectors, in addition to office construction, which is poised to grow by 4 percent next year.
Architectural Firms Get Boost from Modular
An increasing trend in the recovery of commercial construction is the use of permanent modular buildings, as cited in a recent issue of Construction Digital Magazine. The article noted that more architectural firms are turning to modular as a faster, greener building option that can also cut project costs.