The American Institute of Architects' Architecture Billings Index for November was 57.5 (any score over 50 indicates an increase in billings), the second-highest total for 2006, while the index of inquiries for new projects remained strong at 62.1, just below October's reading.

According to Reed Construction Data, through November the value of nonresidential construction starts in 2006 was 8.6 percent higher than in the first 11 months of 2005. Hotels (up 75.8 percent), amusement/recreation facilities (up 44.2 percent), and nursing homes (up 30.3 percent) were the fastest growing markets, while the three largest markets—education, retail, and offices—were up about 10 percent each.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Acoma Sky City in New Mexico as the 28th National Trust historic site. This means the pueblo can avail itself of the trust's expertise as well as special funds and programs. Sky City, which sits atop a 370-foot-high, 70-acre mesa about 60 miles west of Albuquerque, dates back to 1150 and claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America. It was designated a national historic landmark in 1960.

Two leading vendors of architecture, engineering, and construction software are uniting. Graphisoft SE, the Budapest, Hungary–based developer of Archicad, agreed in December to a buyout by Nemetschek AG, creator of VectorWorks. Nemetschek, which is based in Munich, Germany, is expected to maintain Graphisoft as a division of the company.

Barbara Bloemink has joined the Museum of Arts & Design in New York as curatorial director. Previously, she was curatorial director at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, also in New York.

The AIA board of directors has named the National Organization of Minority Architects as the recipient of the 2007 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award. The award, given to an architect or organization that exemplifies the profession's responsibility toward current social issues, honors the late civil rights activist and head of the Urban League. NOMA, based in Washington, D.C., was founded by 12 black architects at the 1971 AIA national convention.

What will be this year's booming markets for design and construction firms? According to research group ZweigWhite, the top five are health care, highways and bridges, higher education, water/wastewater, and power and energy.

The American Society of Interior Designers has created a series of white papers that address sustainable design. Available through the group's website, the five papers are “Beyond Interior Design,” “Indoor Air Quality,” “Materials and Products,” “Selling Green,” and “Reference Guide.”

The January issue of Fast Company forecasts 10 hot jobs for 2007. Among them: urban planners. “[I]ndividuals in residential planning and development,” the magazine says, must be able to “meet the demand for real estate that's both decadent and practical.”

The northern Italian village of Viganella is experiencing the winter sun for the first time. Because of where it sits in the Ossola Valley, Viganella receives no direct sunlight between Nov. 11 and Feb. 2. Now, thanks to a 26-foot-by-16-foot computer-controlled mirror located above the town, Viganella's main square will get five hours of sunshine each day. The mirror, which cost around $150,000 and began working on Dec. 18, is the result of a seven-year e. ort by Mayor Pierfranco Midali and architect Giacomo Bonzani.