Seymour S. "Steve" Greenfield, former chairman of New York City-based engineering giant Parsons Brinckerhoff and a long-time industry innovator and leader, died on Nov. 17 in Englewood, N.J. He was 84. Cause of death was pancreatic cancer, according to a Parsons Brinckerhoff official. Greenfield, who joined PB in 1947, became a company partner in 1964 and served in the chairman role from 1982 until 1989. Even after his official retirement in 1995, he was a presence in the company who "who continued working several days a week" until his death, says current PB Chairman and CEO Thomas J. O'Neill.
Greenfield has been a technical innovator at PB since he joined the firm following his World War II service in the U.S. Navy. He was hired as a project engineer on military bases in Iceland and Newfoundland that were being converted by the Army Corps of Engineers for use by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), formed in 1949. Greenfield "played a major role in PB's design of several hardened defense facilities, including the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)" adds O'Neill. He also served as principal-in-charge for PB's work in designing several nuclear waste repositories in the U.S. and for facilities in Texas and Louisiana related to America's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
The mechanical engineer and 1943 graduate of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Polytechnic Institute, now Polytechnic University, also was a major contributor to mechanical design through his involvement in PB's work on the ventilation system of the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system. He was also principal-in-charge of PB's project to develop its Subway Environment Simulation software for tunnel ventilation and directed the firm's participation in a federally-funded study that produced the first accepted handbook on ventilation, air conditioning and environmental design standards for subways, according to PB. But even with his technical prowess, Greenfield saw the importance of corporate marketing and business development as he rose through the ranks, elevating them to an equal level in the company, says one executive.
Greenfield also took an active construction industry role, capping a long involvement in the Society of Military Engineers (SAME), with the presidency in 1977. He is one of the group's seven life members. Greenfield also was recognized by ENR in 1981 and in 1993, received the Outstanding Achievement in Construction Award from the Moles, a group of professionals involved in underground construction. "He was a presence, there's no question about it," says ENR Editor Emeritus Arthur J. Fox.