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4 emerging trends from BD+C's 2022 Giants 400 Report

Giants 400

4 emerging trends from BD+C's 2022 Giants 400 Report

Regenerative design, cognitive health, and jobsite robotics highlight the top trends from the 519 design and construction firms that participated in BD+C's 2022 Giants 400 Report.


By David Barista, Editorial Director | November 14, 2022
HITT is using Hilti’s Jaibot for repetitive tasks such as drilling anchors
HITT is using Hilti’s Jaibot for repetitive tasks such as drilling anchors. Photo courtesy HITT Contracting

A record 519 architecture, engineering, and construction firms reported data for BD+C’s 2022 Giants 400 Report. The data offers a fascinating view of the overall health of the U.S. AEC industry, including revenue rankings across 25-plus building sectors, specialty categories, and industry disciplines.

Beyond the revenue numbers, the Giants survey asks firms to detail an innovation their team developed during the past year that has greatly impacted their firm’s operations or projects. While only a little more than half of the participating firms responded to this request, the 278 innovation entries, when analyzed in aggregate, foretell emerging and expanding trends across the AEC industry. Here are four to note:

1. Firms address burnout and brain health. HKS and McMillan Pazdan Smith (MPS) are among the growing number of firms implementing formal cognitive health initiatives to help address staff burnout and improve employee health and well-being. MPS last year introduced 31 staff health initiatives, including incorporating “brain breaks” and meditation sessions into the workday, making healthy snacks freely available, and hosting virtual seminars on staying financially fit.

2. Regenerative design > sustainability. Four design firms—Cuningham, HDR, HOK, and Little—mentioned moving their teams, clients, and projects beyond the “do less harm” mentality of sustainability to a “restore the earth” mindset with regenerative design. Cuningham’s regenerative strategies include in-house measures like monitoring carbon emissions to reduce or offset them, developing a climate action plan, and working on justice, equity, and diversity. Its project design strategies include reusing building infrastructure where possible and pursuing net-zero performance.


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3. Finally! Some work-life balance. The COVID-19 pandemic forced AEC firms to get serious about work-life balance. Nearly a dozen firms mentioned shifting to a permanent hybrid schedule. Others are expanding their benefits package with work-life balance in mind. Pittsburg-based IKM Architecture introduced unlimited PTO last year. The firm also moved from a structured, eight-hour workday Monday-Friday, to a 40-hour work week Sunday-Saturday.

4. Robotics move beyond pilot testing. DPR Construction, HITT Contracting, Swinerton, and Turner Construction all report more formalized initiatives utilizing robotics on jobsites. HITT is using Boston Dynamics’ Spot and Hilti’s Jaibot for repetitive tasks such as drilling anchors. Swinerton last year became the first construction company with fully trained in-house operators for Dusty Robotics, and was an early adopter of that supplier’s FieldPrinter on projects in California, Texas, and Virginia. Turner is using robotics for drywall finishing, perform layout, and overhead drilling.

2022 GIANTS 400 - AEC DISCIPLINE RANKINGS

A. Top 180 Architecture Firms
B. Top 110 Architecture/Engineering (AE) Firms
C. Top 80 Engineering Firms
D. Top 45 Engineering/Architecture (EA) Firms
E. Top 200 Contractors                
F. Top 90 Construction Management Firms  

See more 2022 Giants 400 Rankings

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