According to The American Institute of Architects (AIA), demand for design services continued to slide in December 2009, following a drop of more than three points in November. The latest Architecture Billings Index (ABI) showed a nominal increase of less than one point, bringing December's score to 43.4. Inquiries for new projects fell more than three points to a score of 55.3.

While many architects report that viable projects are waiting in the wings, inaccessibility of credit remains the primary roadblock to a turnaround for the design and construction industries, noted AIA's chief economist Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA.

The regional breakdown for December's ABI shows the Northeast leading with a score of 48.6, followed by the Midwest (46.6), South (43.2), and West (40.0). Between the design sectors, multifamily residential performed the best with a score of 51.0, followed by institutional (44.2), commercial/industrial (42.7), and mixed practice (38.1).

To read about the current state of the national housing market and expert predictions for a recovery, click here.