New York Region's Largest Designers See Upward Movement
Architecture and engineering firms in New York and New Jersey posted total revenue of $4.5 billion in 2016, based on reports in this year’s ENR New York Top Design Firm ranking. The total for the top 75 firms (the number of firms that participated last year) was $4.37 billion, up 21.4% from the year-ago period. This year an additional 10 firms joined the list.
New York City megaprojects such as the $3.1-billion One Vanderbilt high-rise in Manhattan and the $4-billion LaGuardia Airport redevelopment in Queens were key growth catalysts.
The top 10 firms on this year’s list reported total revenue of $2 billion, up 3% from the year-ago period.
AECOM again leads the design firm group, with its $512 million in regional revenue up nearly 18% from $434 million reported for 2015. WSP—which now has adopted the new brand nearly three years after its purchase of Parsons Brinckerhoff—continues to hold the No. 2 spot, but its $317 million in 2016 revenue dropped 10.5% from 2015. Arcadis North America held its third place ranking, but its regional revenue totaled $191 million, down about 5% from 2015.
In New York City, 2016 marks the third consecutive year of increased value of building permits issued by its Dept. of Buildings, according to the New York Building Congress. The agency approved 5,641 construction permits worth about $93 billion. The total marks a 2.2% increase over last year’s figure of $9.1 billion, with a total of 4,927 permits issued by the department.
“Interior construction work is the unsung hero of the current building boom,” says Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO of the Building Congress. “While all eyes are understandably focused on the brand new office and residential towers,” a lot of construction work is occurring “largely under the radar” in the five boroughs.
In New Jersey, projects such as the $100-million NJIT Wellness and Events Center in Newark and the $90-million Bergen County Justice Center renovation in Hackensack propelled project revenue for firms working there.
Greenman-Pedersen Inc., ENR New York’s Design Firm of the Year last year, ranks fourth on the list for the second year—with its revenue of nearly $172 million for 2016 up 8.2% from the previous year. Ralph Csogi, firm CEO and president, credits large transportation projects for the boost.
“GPI recently completed conceptual through final design services for the rehabilitation of a 1,100-foot-long complex viaduct and associated ramp structures located along Route 495” near North Bergen in Hudson County, N.J., says Csogi.
The Route 495 Viaduct, on which an estimated 160,000 vehicles per day reach the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan, has been classified by New Jersey’s transportation agency as “one of the top 10 most critical structures in the state”, says Csogi, due to its location, importance and structural complexity. The structure has been previously modified six times, which further complicates the rehabilitation design and construction. The bridge connects the New Jersey Turnpike at Interchange 16E/18E with Routes 3 and 1&9, west of the New Jersey “helix” approach to the tunnel.
Among other projects in the education design sector, DMR Architects, which reported $11.6 million in revenue in 2016, is working on the new High Tech High School in Secaucus, N.J., that is part of the Hudson County Schools of Technology system. When complete, the 340,000-sq-ft facility will accommodate 1,500 students and replace the current facility located in North Bergen.
“Building this school is like putting together a giant puzzle,” says Lloyd Rosenberg, president and CEO of DMR. “This is going to be the most high-tech high school in the country, with offerings that even some four-year higher learning institutions don’t have. Education processes are evolving, so the facilities that house them need to be equally sophisticated.”
The project will include ecological design features to increase the energy efficiency of the facility. It will also contain hydroponic gardens that will be maintained by students and faculty in the Applied Science Academy, with produce to be used by culinary students in the school’s Vocational Training Academy who will provide cuisine to all students in the shared cafeteria.