Commercial and public works construction held their ground the first four months of the year, with commercial up 1% and non-building projects up 5%.

Still, the performance of these segments was not enough to offset the continuing struggles of residential construction, which plunged 39% from a year ago. In all, U.S. construction totaled $170.4 billion from January through April, a 17% decrease from $204.2 billion from 2007.

On the commercial side, health care facilities fared well, as five large hospitals in New York, Tennessee, Indiana, Maryland, and Washington broke ground. But office, hotel, and retail construction all cooled in April. “The store category is vulnerable this year, as retailers pull back on expansion in the face of tighter credit conditions and weaker consumer spending,” said Robert Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction.

In the nonbuilding sector, public works and electric utilities construction were up 24% and 41%, respectively. Water supply systems were way up, helped by the start of a $1.3 billion water treatment plant in Westchester County, N.Y.

The start of several multifamily projects helped the residential sector. “There is still the occasional month that includes large multifamily projects, but the number of projects reaching ground-breaking has become considerably less than a year ago, given the unraveling of the condo boom,” said Murray.

Associations in the Mix


Luis García, of Bogotá, Columbia, was named the new president of the American Concrete Institute. He is a partner and president of Proyectos y Diseños, a structural engineering consulting firm in Bogotá that he founded in 1980, and is the first ACI president from outside the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. For more, Visit


Alex Morales joined the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute as manager of plant operations. He had been the director of education, safety consultations, at the National Precast Concrete Association. Visit