Paced by a recovering market for nonresidential projects and expanding housing activity, billings at U.S. architecture firms increased 11% between 2002 and 2005, reaching $28.7 billion annually. The total construction value of projects that architecture firms directly designed approached $360 billion, accounting for almost 3% of overall U.S. Gross Domestic Product. These findings are from The American Institute of Architects (AIA)“Business of Architecture: 2006 AIA Firm Survey,”which is conducted every three years to examine issues related to business practices of AIA member-owned architecture firms. The study also revealed continued improvement in diversity in the profession and an increase in the number of “green” design projects.

“While the residential design category posted the strongest gains in share of firm activity during this period, the institutional market - led by the healthcare and education sectors - remains the largest source for architecture services,” said survey co-author, AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “State and local governments were the leading architecture clients, followed closely by developers/construction companies. The most common project delivery method remains traditional design-bid-build, which accounts for nearly 60% of project activity at architecture firms.”

The top five sectors served by architects in 2005 were healthcare (14.3%), office, (11.7%), education (K-12) (11.1%,) multifamily residential (10.7%) and education (college/ university) (7.7%).

Due to rising energy costs and growing concerns over the impact that construction activity has on the environment, there has been a rise in the use of sustainable (“green”) design principles. In 2005, just over one-third of firms with nonresidential projects and a quarter of firms designing residential projects characterized some of their projects as green.

The survey was researched and compiled by the AIA department of market research. The survey data were weighted to reflect the population proportions of AIA member-owned firms in terms of number of firms in each of six different size categories, as well as their geographic distribution in terms of the nine census regions. For more information