The AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) fell sharply in April–the first slowdown in billings at architecture firms since last October. Business conditions at architecture firms had been slowly improving for the last few months, so it remains unclear if this month’s downturn is a bump in the road to recovery, or indicative of a longer-term reversal in the two-quarter recovery in design activity. Firms reported that the threatened federal government shutdown, tornadoes though the Southeast, and the winding down of federal stimulus funds for building activity all were impediments to design activity in April.

Inquiries for new projects remained strong last month. However, another indicator of future design work paints a less optimistic picture. In April, the share of firms reporting that the value of new design contracts had decreased as compared to March levels was equal to the share that reported that the value had increased. In March, significantly more firms reported a net gain in design contracts over the prior month.

Read the full article by Jennifer Riskus at AIA.