Henningson, Durham, and Richardson, Inc. is an employee-owned company that renders services in architecture, engineering, planning, consulting, and asset management. The scope of their work spans various specializations within the design world and a large number of countries. Rooted in American history and market practices, its origin can be traced to the Henningson Engineering Company started in 1917.
One of the most recent, and perhaps most recognizable, of HDR’s infrastructure projects, is the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, commonly known as the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge. The dam itself is an iconic American image, and the bypass is an iconic HDR structure.
HDR is currently the seventh-largest design firm and tenth-largest employee-owned company in the United States. It started as an engineering company and implemented various projects around the country. The company was bought by Bouygues SA, a french construction giant in 1982. In 1996, the company was sold again, the new owners being the company’s employees. At the time, 1000 people were employed by the company and this has since expanded to about 10000.
HDR is now an international firm, and the process of expansion is generally accompanied by acquisition—over 60 of them since 1996. These range from healthcare design firms to infrastructure firms. This process eases the process of putting down roots.
Over the last decade, the form has expanded largely in the UK, Germany, and Australia—creating smart and energy-efficient buildings in these nations. A great example of this is the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh which is a research center focused on genetics and related fields. With a dynamic glass facade and a central atrium that takes inspiration from the DNA helical, this building seamlessly creates multiple different spaces for students and researchers for work.
HDR currently works throughout the world with over 200 offices, specializing in architecture, engineering, environmental, and construction services. The firm believes in creating effective, aesthetic solutions while also building with and for the community with forays into energy-efficient, high-performance, and sustainable designs as well as healthcare and infrastructure.
While different offices have different specialties, there is one guiding ethos—a multidisciplinary sustainable design solution. HDR, Inc. employs not just architects, engineers, and MEP Consultants, but also builders, analysts, scientists, artists, archeologists, and economists. This multidisciplinary approach to the design process allows the firm to create long-lasting solutions which ensure that the clients’ needs are met but balanced with the needs of the project itself, of the site, and the end-user.
The design teams also render interior design solutions, site, and landscape design services, lighting, and wayfinding solutions, and branding consultations.
Santa Fe Drive lies within a culturally and creatively rich art district in the city of Denver. To reinvigorate the street and reclaim sparsely used roadways while increasing community interaction, HDR garnered input from area residents, business owners, and other stakeholders to develop streetscape pilot improvements.
Engineering and Project Completion
When HDR started, it was an engineering company and later expanded to different fields. The firm provides a range of engineering services—civil and structural, surveying, fire and safety, geotechnical, hydrological, hydraulic, instrumentation, automation, and telecommunication.
The structural and civil engineering team has designed and overseen various large and extremely important projects, particularly in the United States.
HDR also handles project completion, providing construction and administration services and consulting in expediting, risk assessment, cost management, and coordination.
HDR’s i605 interstate improvement project reflects their engineering prowess in tandem with other consultancy services providing a 360’ solution for a safer, more organized and controlled, environmentally sound solution. The project is ongoing with its environmental phase expected to be completed by 2022.
Environmental and Sustainable Design
In 1994, HDR became the first architecture and engineering firm to join the US Green Building Council and was later involved in creating the LEED ratings and SROI process. It is also a founding member of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, following the same model as the IGBC but for infrastructure. A leader in smart and energy-efficient buildings, HDR is constantly expanding its sustainability programs; one of the first and largest firms in the world with a practice deeply rooted in sustainable, environment-friendly design.
HDR established a Sustainable Solutions Program at the beginning of the 1990s, around the same time as joining the UGBC, to incorporate sustainability into their designs, construction practices, and business. This program has now expanded to their environmental sciences consultancy, where they move beyond the built and help clients reinvigorate their immediate surroundings or even help rebuild ecosystems.
This is again fed by their multidisciplinary ideology with a team of more than 1000 archaeologists, historians, environmental planners, and ecological restorers, ecologists, scientists, toxicologists, and permit experts.
With employees encouraged and generally purchasing stock in the company, HDR creates a rare and relatively unique opportunity: where multiple people part of the design team have ownership of the design within an operation as large as HDR. This sense of ownership in designs and the company increases work ethic and teamwork.
Director of Federal Practices, Susanna Earpstead, when talking about the employee ownership practice mentions she purchased stock early into her HDR career, and work felt like her own business rather than just a job.