The American Institute of Architects is lobbying for a $100bn assistance package to restart the troubled construction industry and boost business at architectural firms.

The institute said it wants the US Congress to beef up spending in a number of areas, including green building, schools and community development funding.

According to the AIA, the credit crunch has prompted a sharp drop in construction spending, leading to a drop of 19 points on the architectural billings index.

“The inability to get financing for construction projects is a key reason that business conditions continue to be so poor at design firms,” AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said in a statement to US publication Baltimore Business Journal this week.

The Architecture Billings Index fell to 36.4 in December from its position in 2007. The index reflects a lag time of between nine and 12 months between the architectural and construction phases of a project. A score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

By staff writer.