No Slowdown in Sight for Region’s Designers and Contractors
Although the 742-ft-tall, $750-million Four Seasons hotel opened in Boston this month and the $2.6-billion Encore Boston Harbor Casino is set to open June 23, fears that New England’s construction would cool after the completion of these two megaprojects do not appear to be materializing. “The market is really, really busy,” says Jeff Gouveia, president and general manager of the Northeast for Suffolk, the contractor on both projects.
“There are a lot of projects starting,” he says. Suffolk recently started work on a 150,000-sq-ft Integrated Science Center at Boston College, the terminal E modernization at Boston Logan International Airport and a connector between terminal B and C.
Suffolk topped ENR New England’s Top Contractors rankings for the third time in four years. The firm was No. 1 in the inaugural ranking in 2016 and again in 2017. This year, Suffolk reported $1.57 billion in regional revenue, just ahead of Turner Construction Co., which reported $1.42 billion. Last year, Turner participated in the New England survey for the first time and dethroned Suffolk with $1.19 billion in revenue, compared with Suffolk’s $1.14 billion.
This year’s 35 ranked firms reported $12.42 billion in 2018 revenue across the region, which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The 30 contractors ranked on last year’s survey reported $10.4 billion in 2017 revenue. Meanwhile, the top five firms in this year’s survey reported a combined $6.02 billion, which is up from last year’s $4.6 billion. Consigli Construction Co., ENR New England’s 2019 Contractor of the Year (see p. NE18), ranked No. 3 for the second straight year with $1.19 billion in regional revenue.
After coming in just behind AECOM for the last two years on ENR New England’s 2019 Top Design Firm rankings, Burns & McDonnell is No. 1 this year with $256.44 million in 2018 regional revenue, up from $197.72 million in 2017. AECOM reported $229.47 million in 2018 regional revenue, slightly above $221.71 million in 2017.
J. Brett Williams, president, general manager-New England region at Burns & McDonnell, says the firm experienced an “uptick” in each of its New England markets during the last 18 months, including energy projects. The firm has completed several multibillion-dollar electric transmission upgrade projects over the last five years, including the $1.5-billion Maine Power Reliability Program. “The work is still out there, but to be carved up into much smaller pieces,” Williams says. “So we’ve shifted from one-off megaprojects into portfolio management.”
Burns & McDonnell and Eversource Energy implemented the Massachusetts Solar Program last year. The work included siting, permitting, project management, construction management and grid interconnection for 19 solar generation facilities—a total of 62 MW of capacity—in less than 18 months. Burns & McDonnell also plans to increase offshore wind work by up to 20% each year over the next five years. The firm is currently designing several onshore interconnection assets for Danish firm Ørsted, including Revolution Wind—a 700-MW project in federal waters off Rhode Island and Massachusetts. “We expect [offshore wind] to have a very big impact to not only New England, but the entire Northeast,” Williams says. “We are very bullish on this market as it develops.”
Overall, New England’s design firms are growing. The 60 firms on this year’s ranking reported $2.58 billion in 2018 regional revenue, compared with the $1.8 billion reported by last year’s 50 ranked firms. Meanwhile, the top 10 firms on this year’s ranking logged a total of $1.41 billion in regional revenue, up from $1 billion last year.
Stantec—No. 3 for the third-straight year with $160.20 million in regional revenue, up from $120.78 million last year—performed 31% of its work in the transportation sector, which included the $150-million Logan Terminal C Roadways project.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s $2.3-billion Green Line Extension (GLX) is keeping several design and construction firms busy. STV is the engineer of record for the 4.7-mile light rail project, and both HNTB and Arup are working on the GLX as well. The Middlesex Corp., the region’s top-ranked transportation contractor with $151.18 million in transportation sector revenue, is part of the joint venture building the GLX.
Back to School
The education market has been one of the hottest sectors in New England, with 21 contractors reporting a combined $3.40 billion of work. This includes the 200,000-sq-ft science, technology, engineering and mathematics facility at the University of Vermont, which is being built by PC Construction, ranked at No. 20 with $177.87 million in regional revenue.
While Bill Massey, principal at No. 36 Sasaki, says STEM facilities will continue to be popular investments among universities, he says, "the increasing financial challenges that many higher ed institutions face combined with a decrease in college age demographics means schools are looking to make the most of their existing facilities through renovations and reuse versus new high profile buildings."
Massey also says that while the recent rise in construction costs "has further encouraged institutions to consider renovations," he notes that "as of now it hasn't slowed anything down from our standpoint."