Orange County’s architecture firms combined for about $451.1 million in local billings in the past year, up about 4%. Firmwide billings dropped 11% based on numbers reported by half of the firms.

The activity reflects national trends in which California and other warm-weather states are seeing increases in architectural billings as declines occur in the Midwest and Northwest parts of the country, according to the American Institute of Architects.

This week’s Business Journal ranks the 39 largest architecture firms with significant operations in OC by the dollar value of billings in the 12 months ending June 30.

The list also includes companywide billings and the number of licensed architects and local employees, though those numbers don’t affect the rankings. The firms employed 505 architects in OC, up about 12%. Local overall staffing was flat at 2,723.

Six firms said their local billings dropped, 18 reported increases, and the Business Journal estimated billings for 15 firms.

• Irvine-based LPA Inc. retained the top spot with $50.6 million in local billings, up about 4%. Companywide billings were up about 24% to $70.6 million.

One of its notable projects is the 300,000-square-foot makeover of the former L.A. Times building in Costa Mesa into a three-story open-air office space.

“We’re fortunate to be in the middle of a good business cycle where there’s growth in all segments,” said LPA Chief Operating Officer Jon Mills, referring to office, hospital, retail and school clients.

“We’re usually helping clients reimagine or renovate existing (offices), facilities or creating a new entry space,” Principal Wendy Rogers said.

About 44% of LPA’s clients are in the education sector, and about 25% are corporations in need of office redesigns, while 72% are in OC.

“About 80% of clients are repeat business,” Mills said. Business clients usually need a new design every seven years, while public school buildings change every 40 years.

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