Building Design & Construction Magazine Names 2006 “Best AEC Firms To Work For”

May 05, 2006 |


Contact: Robert Cassidy, Editor-in-Chief 630-288-8153

Building Design & Construction

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Building Design & Construction

Magazine Names


2006 “Best AEC Firms To Work For”

Oak Brook, Illinois – May 8,2006 – The editors of Building Design & Construction today named five firms as the “Best AEC Firms To Work For” in the $394 billion U.S. architecture/engineering/construction (AEC) industry.

The winning firms are:

  • FreemanWhite, Charlotte, N.C., the 10th oldest architectural firm in the U.S.

  • Hnedak Bobo Group, Memphis, Tenn., an 85-person architecture/interior design firm that has built a national reputation in the hospitality, casino, and entertainment market

  • McCarthy Building Companies, a 142-year-old construction company based in St. Louis, Mo.

  • Shawmut Design and Construction, Boston, a $500 million provider of construction management services

  • Walter P Moore, Houston, a 75-year-old engineering and consulting firm with 335 employees.

“This is the first year we’ve given awards to the ‘Best AEC Firms To Work For,’ and we feel quite pleased at the quality of the firms in our inaugural competition,” said Robert Cassidy, editor-in-chief of Building Design & Construction, who chaired the judging panel. “These are companies that care deeply about their employees. Everyone benefits from their positive work environments—the employees, the firms, and their clients.”

The winners were chosen from among 52 applicant firms from across the $394 billion U.S. design, engineering, and construction sector. The following factors were weighed in the editors’ judgment:

-Innovative recruitment and retention practices

-Professional development, education, and training programs

-Evidence of social, environmental, and corporate responsibility

-Quality of the workplace environment

-Extraordinary compensation and benefits programs

-Generalbusiness practices and public/industry perception of the firm


Firms with 100 or More Employees

FreemanWhite, Charlotte, N.C., is the 10th oldest architectural firm in the U.S. (est. 1892). The 200-member firm is consistently ranked among the top 20 healthcare design firms in the U.S.

In Building Design & Construction’s 2005 Giants ranking of the 300 largest AEC firms, FreemanWhite ranked #35 among Architecture/Engineering firms.

Judges’ comments: “FreemanWhite is a national leader in continuing education and training. The firm devotes 3.5-4% of gross income to education and has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects with an AIA/CES Award for Excellence in continuing education. Its education arm, the FreemanWhite Academy, offers 120 courses to meet the continuing education needs of 43 different staff positions. Its internship development program spends $4,500 per intern, with a current annual total of nearly $50,000 for 11 interns.Its ‘Buddy Program’ pairs new intern hires with staff veterans.”


McCarthy Building Companies, St. Louis, Mo. The more than 2,500 full-time salaried employees and trades people nationwide of this 142-year-old firm are spread around 100 job sites in the U.S. The contractor, 100% employee owned (through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan), completed 512 projects nationwide in the last five years—including St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, Boise, Idaho; a nanotechnology laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley; The Platinum condo hotel in Las Vegas; and an addition to the Toyota Motor truck plant in Princeton, Ind. Clients include Kaiser Permanente, the University of California system, Boeing, Anheuser-Busch, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Pfizer, and Boston University.

Building Design & Construction 2005 Giants Rank: #16 among contractors.

Judges’ comments: “In addition to being a leader in employee education, diversity initiatives (minority/women/disabled veteran business enterprise programs), and employee referral incentives, McCarthy has, through its employee-ownership model, created an ‘intrapreneurial’ environment that encourages employees to take responsibility for growing the firm. This has resulted in three new initiatives: a $250 million program for constructing industrial facilities (a new business for McCarthy); $1 billion in school construction in California alone; a $100 million parking-structure construction business; and a $500 million ‘preferred contractor’ program in the healthcare field.”

Shawmut Design and Construction, Boston, Mass., is a $500 million provider of construction management services, focusing on retail stores (Apple Computer, Louis Vuitton), restaurants (The Cheesecake Factory, Yard House), colleges and universities (Harvard, Tufts, Brown), and office spaces (Convexity Capital Management, First Marblehead Corporation).

Building Design & Construction 2005 Giants Rank: #41 among U.S. construction firms.

Judges’ comments: “Shawmut places strong emphasis on its unique Construction Management Skills Training program, which trains recent graduates in three key areas of construction; promotion from within; and individual employee development plans, all of which result in relatively low employee turnover. The firm’s Leadership Development Program emphasizes 360 Feedback, executive coaching, and on-the-job development. ‘Shawmut University’ offers 200 classes in 15 learning areas. Shawmut is a 100% employee-owned company that sponsors back-up daycare for its employees, diet/healthy lifestyle counseling, CPR/First Aid training, and subsidized public transit reimbursement in all its main locations.”

Walter P Moore, Houston, Texas. Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2006, this distinguished engineering and consulting firm’s 335 employees brought in more than 800 new projects in 2005. Walter P Moore is known for its expertise in stadiums, arenas, airport terminals, federal projects, hospitals, hotels, and parking facilities.

Building Design & Construction 2005 Giants Rank: #17 among engineering firms.

Judges’ comments: “95% of all training classes offered throughout the firm are taught by the firm’s own expert employees. Tuition reimbursement program is provided up to $1,500 a year per employee. The firm’s ‘FastStart’ program provides 30 hours of technical training (design, structural modeling, etc.) for new graduate hires. Walter P Moore invests 2.5% of net revenues in training and career development. Its voluntary turnover range is 5-10%, well below the industry average.”

Firms with Fewer than 100 Employees

Hnedak Bobo Group, Memphis, Tenn., is a midsize architecture/interior design firm with a strong national presence in the hospitality, casino, and entertainment market (ranked #6 by Hotel & Motel Management). HBG’s 85 employees also provide urban and civic architecture and corporate workplace design, including 5 million square feet of corporate space in the last 5 years. Projects include the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Texas and the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando; the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Greeneville, Tennessee; the International Paper Headquarters in Memphis; and the FedEx Express World Headquarters.

Building Design & Construction 2005 Giants Rank: Not applicable due to firm size.

Judges’ comments: “In 1995, founders Greg Hnedak and Kirk Bobo created the Management Team concept, whereby the firm’s architects and designers would concentrate on design, client relations, and project delivery, and professional managers and businesspeople would run marketing, human resources, IT, and operations and administration. By sticking to this model, HBG has been able to compete effectively against much larger firms in the highly competitive hospitality design sector. Many small- and medium-size design firms have tried to implement similar management structures, but few have done it as well as HBG, and their employees are benefiting from their resolve.”

About Building Design & Construction

Building Design & Construction reaches 75,870 architects, engineers, contractors, building owners, and developers every month with news, trends, analysis, and feature articles on the $394 billion U.S. construction industry, with particular focus on the commercial, industrial, institutional, and multifamily sectors. BD&C is unique among design and construction B2B publications in that it focuses on all the members of the “Building Team.” In addition to the monthly magazine, BD&C offers its audience product tabloids, electronic newsletters, educational webcasts, in-person events, and continuing education programs. Building Design & Construction is a publication of Reed Business Information. For more, please visit:

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