Engineering firms look to bolster growth through new services, technology [2014 Giants 300 Report]

Following solid revenue growth in 2013, the majority of U.S.-based engineering and engineering/architecture firms expect more of the same this year, according to BD+C’s 2014 Giants 300 report. 

The 73-year-old Naval Reserve Armory building on Seattle’s South Lake Union dock
The 73-year-old Naval Reserve Armory building on Seattle’s South Lake Union dock is the new home of the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). The LEED Platinum project involved converting the landmark, 53,000-sf structure into modern museum space while preserving the historic exterior and interior elements. The Building Team included LMN Architects (architect); Coughlin Porter Lundeen (structural engineer); Sparling (electrical, fire protection, security, and lighting designer); Pacific Studio
July 18, 2014

Following solid revenue growth in 2013, the majority of U.S.-based engineering and engineering/architecture (EA) firms expect more of the same this year, according to BD+C’s 2014 Giants 300 report. Of the 68 engineering and EA firms that reported a forecast for 2014, 56 companies expect revenue to be higher, with the average growth rate at nearly double digits (9.1%). The same group saw revenue increase 16% on average in 2013. 

As the green building movement shifts focus from the new construction sector to existing buildings, engineering firms are well positioned to capitalize on the influx of dollars heading into the reconstruction and retrofit markets. Firms, in turn, are adding services like commissioning (BECx, Cx, and RCx), energy retrofit design, energy auditing, energy modeling, and facilities management consulting in an effort to cater to this growing segment.

San Francisco-based Mazzetti is seeing growth from its recently launched facilities management consulting business, especially on the East Coast. The firm works directly with building owners and their facilities teams to assess how their facilities can operate more efficiently. Mazzetti also advises owners on the best ROI in terms of equipment replacement or repair.

TOP ENGINEERING FIRMS

2013 Engineering Revenue ($)
1 Fluor Corporation $585,150,000
2 Arup 136,464,506
3 Day & Zimmermann 130,576,072
4 WSP Group 124,400,000
5 Affiliated Engineers 104,121,000
6 KPFF Consulting Engineers 94,025,000
7 Syska Hennessy Group 93,902,508
8 Vanderweil Engineers 80,334,000
9 Simpson Gumpertz & Heger 71,640,000
10 AKF Group 67,487,000
SEE FULL LIST

 

TOP ENGINEERING/ARCHITECTURE FIRMS

2013 EA Revenue ($)
1 Jacobs $3,684,260,000
2 AECOM Technology Corp. 1,769,120,000
3 Parsons Brinckerhoff 316,350,284
4 URS Corp. 280,333,336
5 Burns & McDonnell 160,922,332
6 Thornton Tomasetti 145,038,225
7 SSOE Group 114,501,762
8 CRB   96,860,000
9 Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates 88,887,000
10 Dewberry 78,770,181
SEE FULL LIST

“We often grow this relationship into more of a capital planning consultant role,” says Walt Vernon, PE, LEED AP, EDAC, Principal and CEO of Mazzetti. “The results are that we have significantly grown our Nashville office, because we’ve increased our work. We’ve hired specialists in this area, which creates a new service line for us.”


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For TLC Engineering for Architecture, increased emphasis on energy and water services, especially energy audits, is paying dividends. The firm has dedicated staff in each operating unit to focus on these services, with huge success, according to the firm’s CEO and Chairman, Debra A. Lupton, AIA, LEED AP BD+C.

Seeing a growth in demand for water design services, Magnusson Klemencic Associates developed its proprietary Strategic Water Planning tool (http://tinyurl.com/MKAwater) to aid in the assessment and optimization of a project’s global water supplies and demands. The tool takes into account the characteristics of a project—including the site, building type, size, and location—to provide a comprehensive, holistic, and accessible picture of water inputs and outputs, such as stormwater runoff, precipitation, wastewater, evaporation, potable water, and ground infiltration. 

The firm has utilized the tool to develop net-zero-water design schemes for several projects, including the Sylvan Theatre at the base of the Washington Monument in Washington D.C. 

BIM/VDC/IPD GROWTH

Advanced project modeling and team collaboration continue to play a vital role on engineering projects. More than three-quarters (76%) of the engineering firms that participated in the Giants 300 survey reported at least some design revenue from BIM/VDC-driven building projects. These firms report that, on average, 47% of their total design billings in 2013 were derived from BIM/VDC-driven projects.   

Several firms reported innovations in this area:

HNTB has developed a BIM workflow that allows its aviation clients to quickly transfer both geometric and non-geometric data from a project’s BIM model directly into their facility management system, like Tivoli Maximo Asset Management. The process was employed most recently on the Denver International Airport’s Hotel and Transit Center Program. The facilities team plans to use the BIM data for ongoing operations and maintenance management, as well as feasibility studies and planning for future projects on the site. 

The firm’s sports practice launched a fully parametric design tool that replaces its 2D bowl and sightline design program. The new tool allows for fast, dynamic design iteration in a 3D BIM environment.

Thornton Tomasetti, through its Core Studio computational modeling and R&D group, has developed dozens of breakthrough engineering design and analysis tools, including a cloud-based, rapid-iterative design program (see BIM Giants section, page 54), building performance analysis software, and a series of custom plug-ins for commercially available BIM/VDC/CAD tools. Custom plug-ins include a parameter explorer, a suite of automated drawing production tools, and programs that check and improve the accuracy and quality of BIM models. Core Studio also builds physical prototypes using its in-house 3D printer.     

Robins & Morton is carving out a niche in the emerging integrated project delivery (IPD) field. The construction and engineering giant has worked on four pure IPD projects with multi-party agreements—including the Alfond Center for Health at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta, Maine, a BD+C 2014 Building Team Award winner—and completed 44 projects utilizing many of the elements and management practices of the IPD approach.

 

Read BD+C's full 2014 Giants 300 Report

         
 

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