The momentum that architecture firms picked up toward the end of 2012 has carried over into the new year, with the American Institute of Architect's Architecture Billings Index (ABI) rising to its highest level in more than five years.
Not only did the index for business conditions pick up, the survey also showed employment among architects is continuing to rise.
The ABI for January rose to 54.2, its strongest growth in five and a half years. The report detailed several new projects that were developed in January, while the value of new design contracts increased.
According to the survey, architecture firms located in the Midwest had the overall highest growth in the country, as well as firms that specialized in residential architecture. What could be most exciting about the report is the numbers that suggest the pace of hiring — especially in the construction, architecture and engineering space — is picking up. As of December, 156,000 people were working in the architecture arena, marking its highest level of employment in more than two years.
On this month's survey, the AIA included a unique question that sought to determine if there had been any changes in how long the project design phase of construction lasted. The results showed 37 percent of respondents said the design phase for a standard construction project had dropped in the last two years, while about 27 percent said they had witnessed the duration of this phase increase.
Of the respondents who said design phase time had decreased, 75 percent said that urgency in completing the project was a very important factor in construction. This suggests that architecture firms may be looking for highly skilled candidates who can deliver quality projects in a timely fashion.
This trend is emerging as "project sizes are increasing somewhat from last year, but project durations are much shorter, creating a short term spike without much impact on yearly backlog," according to one small firm's response to the survey.
The growth in demand for architectural and engineering jobs is in line with predictions from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which show employment of architects is expected to rise by 24 percent in the 10 years leading up to 2020 — faster than the average growth of all occupations in the country.