What a ride it’s been. The total revenue of Architectural Record's Top 150 Architecture Firms surged in 2007, even as the AIA’s Architectural Billings Index (ABI) for March dropped to 39.7, its lowest level since the institute began tracking architects’ invoices in 1995. The firms on the list, which is based on survey data collected for Engineering News-Record’s Top 500 Design Firms survey, say their revenue increased from an estimated $8.6 billion in 2006 to $10.4 billion last year. The trend parallels the entire list of ENR Top 500 firms which, all told, reported $80.62 billion in revenue, up 15.8 percent from 2006. Firms that work in markets such as manufacturing and civil engineering are not included on the RECORD Top 150 Firms list unless they report sufficient revenue from architectural design.
Growth in revenue gained overseas pushed up overall revenues for architecture firms. In 2006, revenue for work done offshore was estimated at about $1.26 billion. Last year, that figure grew by 50 percent, to $1.9 billion. AECOM, the firm which ranks number one on the record list, reported that 45 percent of its $685 million came from international work.
It seems possible that firms earning money overseas may be insulated somewhat from the troubles that have begun to creep into the U.S. nonresidential market. “The lift provided by nonresidential building during the first two months of this year was not present in March,” says Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction. “This is consistent with the general pattern expected for nonresidential building, in which the tight lending environment will dampen the volume of commercial projects as 2008 goes on.”
Architectural Record's list of Top 150 firms ranked according to the revenue they’ve reported, plus revenues and rankings of 100 additional firms, are listed in the table below.