WASHINGTON, DC-Leading economic indicator watchers had highhopes based on the Architecture Billings Index’s promise in thelast few months of 2010. But it seems their hopes could be dashed.During the first two months of 2011, the ABI has just barely beeneking out incremental growth--a disappointment as this indicator ofconstruction activity reflects the nine- to 12-month lag timebetween architecture billings and construction spending.

The American Institute of Architects reported that the FebruaryABI score was 50.6, a modest uptick from a reading of 50 theprevious month. The new projects inquiry index was 56.4,compared to a mark of 56.5 in December. “Overall demand for designservices seems to be treading water over the last two months,” saysAIA chief economist Kermit Baker. That said, he adds, “We stillexpect the road to recovery to move at a slow, but steadypace.”

According to the February ABI, the Midwest is posting thestrongest growth with a score of 55.3. The Northeast is weakest, at46.4. The commercial/industrial sector is the strongest, with ascore of 55, followed by mixed practice at 51.3, multifamilyresidential (49.7) and institutional (48.9).

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Erika Morphy

Erika Morphy has been writing about commercial real estate at GlobeSt.com for more than ten years, covering the capital markets, the Mid-Atlantic region and national topics. She's a nerd so favorite examples of the former include accounting standards, Basel III and what Congress is brewing.