A strong local presence
This national firm has established itself on the North Coast in a wide
variety of ways
It can be as iconic at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for which URS
handled environmental services, or as old-line Cleveland as the Center St.
Swing Bridge, for which it handled engineering design. Or it can be as
serious as work done for NASA Glenn's Research Center under an Environmental
Task Order Contract or as fun as a roller coaster at Geauga Lake, for which
it created the entire structure.
They are all part of the wide variety of work that URS Corporation, a
national company, has done here in Northern Ohio. URS' Cleveland roots are
in the firm of Dalton Dalton Newport, founded in 1941, which was bought
by URS in 1984. By this reckoning, URS has been providing Cleveland its
planning, design and construction services for more than 60 years.
The current Cleveland staff of 200, captained by Gary Hribar, includes
urban planners; landscape architects; architects; civil, structural, geotechnical,
mechanical, fire protection and electrical engineers; engineering economists;
computer specialists; estimators and specification writers; construction
specialists; inspectors; schedulers and the entire spectrum of technical
and support personnel.
The firm has recently moved its Cleveland offices to the 5th and 6th
floors of the Idea Center at Playhouse Square, in offices that earned an
AIA Honor Award for their design. Other offices are located in Akron, Cincinnati,
Columbus and Toledo, giving the firm a 600-strong presence in the Buckeye
State. URS made the move because it needed a space of its own. Its upper
floor offices leave history behind and give a crisp and fresh look, standing
old ideas of URS on their heads. "It was a risky thing to do, a message
to our staff and to the marketplace," says designer Christopher Diehl,
URS director of design. The firm wanted a space that would speak to its
practice, with seven-foot privacy walls, ripped metal lath, funky colorations,
exposed concrete deck and ductwork and cable raceways of data conduit. "It
is designed to show how things are built," says Diehl.
The new offices, along with URS' role in revamping the Idea Center, are
garnering great interest from the community at large. The offices leave
plenty of room for growth, and they're are a prime indicator of where and
how URS will be going in the future. BXM
What's doing at URS?
This national firm has had a major impact on regional building
URS Corporation has worked on large and small projects, for clients both
local and worldwide, such as the ISG/Mittal Corp. Here are some examples
of recent and current projects:
- Design of the Myers University Classroom Building at Chester and E.
40th St., the old Minnehaha facility, brought the school and the Port together.
- Cuyahoga Community College's Corporate Colleges East and West. The
East building's 97,000-sf houses the latest in high-tech learning and professional
training. US Communications and Electric provided the signficant teledata
- The University of Akron's new Student Affairs Building, part of the
schools new Master Plan developed by URS and Sasaki and representing a
student's journey through higher education, as well as the University of
Akron Arts and Sciences Building, New Medina Campus and a siting study
for Akron's new football stadium
- Also: Cleveland Hts. High School and Lakewood Public Schools
- A stream restoration in Mayfield Village at Rt. 91 for the Metroparks
by the Ecological Services Group, in which ecologists, civil engineers
and hydraulics people, work to bring streams back to where they should
- Third Federal's redevelopment of a major brownfield in Slavic Village,
- Several dam rehabilitation projects as part of a State off Ohio certification
Corporate and health care:
- Private work for Jones Day, world's largest law firm, at NorthPoint
Office Bldg. (Architectural and Engineering Services)
- Ferro Corp. (Interior Design Services)
- Emergency Dept. expansion, University Hospitals, Geauga Co.
- Hillcrest Hospital bed tower renovation
Public and governmental works:
- The URS Ohio Transportation Group is part of a team headed by Burgess
& Niple, charged with developing engineering documents and performing
preliminary engineering for the Innerbelt Project, a new construction project
expected to last for the next 15 years, to increase vehicular capacity
by adding lanes and reconstructing the southern Innerbelt from SR 176 through
the I-77/I-90 interchange.
- Also: URS has done work for Cuyahoga Co. Board of Health, on the new
Federal Courthouse in Toledo for the General Services Administration,
on Cleveland Browns Stadium (environmental and engineering services), and
on the White Mountain Forest Service Administration Building. bxm
From many, one
URS Corp. fields a mighty workforce with knowledge and experience in
every possible area of construction, who all work together toward new synergies
"What makes URS Corp. unique? It's talent level, says its Cleveland
Office head Gary Hribar. "We have the best people ever, with a diverse
range of skill sets that further differentiates us," he adds.
"We have a strong staff in place," he goes on about his staff
of 160 reporting directly to him. Many of them are 35-year veterans, which
is a strong indicator of the sustainability of the organization. Hribar
says that it's due to URS having the right philosophy, and the right mixture
of people. "Good people thrive by working with good people," he
believes, and URS is determined that its staff gets to meet as many of their
colleagues as possible, be they geotechnical experts, applications development
specialists or authorities in strategic planning.
A diverse approach
The Cleveland staff is divided into three major management sections:
Facilities, headed by Jeff Homans, AICP; Water Resources, headed by Tom
Denbow, and Environmental, headed by Keith Mast, PE.
Homans, vice president and business leader for facilities, has been involved
with a wide variety of projects for URS Corp. in Ohio and other states.
He played a major role as a project leader for projects at universities
such as Ohio State, Ashland, Cleveland State and Akron; as a project leader
for the Cleveland Metroparks' seven-county GIS mapping study and Lake Farmparks'
master plan, on site planning for such projects as the E. 9th St. Rehabilitation,
the Developers Diversified site in Macedonia at I-271; on master planning
for the Upper Black River and Lorain Harbor Shoreline.
The Environmental Group, second to none in the industry, is headed by
Mast, a geotechnical engineer. It is working on such projects as brownfield
development in Slavic Village and the Flats East Bank project, both under
Clean Ohio grants; work is also being done on belowgrade and foundation
engineering for the East Bank. URS also collaborates with First Energy to
find alternate uses for byproducts from the generating process and with
ISG/Mittal on final permitting for waste disposal sites. Other projects
include a 15-million gallon reservoir at the Morgan Water Treatment Plant
and wetlands and foundation work for the Geauga Lake water park, including
the roller coasters.
It is this breadth of projects that most interests Mast, and URS's depth
of resources that gives his office instant access to meet any client need.
URS has 26,000 employees, all immediately accessible via a vast electronic
network. So the Cleveland URS can access in-house experts as close as Akron
transportation staff to the ones in Asia, Europe and South America, as it
is doing on behalf of acquisition-minded Northern Ohio clients. "We
in Cleveland are only the tip of the URS iceberg," Mast says.
As director of Water Resources and Ecological Services in Cleveland,
Denbow played a key role in such current projects as the Ohio Dept. of Transportation's
Stormwater Management Program, stormwater management for the I-270 reconstruction
north of Columbus, and similar initiatives in North Carolina and other states.
He believes that URS' diversity is one of its primary strengths, and keeps
returning to the firm, after taking on challenges elsewhere, because of
its multi-disciplinary approach. Other draws are its size, which allows
him the resources to work on complex problems, and its flexibility, which
lets him work on small as well as large-scale projects.
The Water Resources Division takes in diverse practice groupsLandscape
Architecture, Site Civil, Information Management Solutions, NEPA/ECO, Inflow
and Infiltration Analysis, Water and Wastewater Design and the Watershed
Stormwater practice group.
A strategy of connection
It is all because of URS's Strategic Platform, which acknowledges that
in the real world, project areas intersect, as do the knowledge bases that
create them, so that one business sector can feed on the other sectors.
Take, for instance, the East Bank of the Flats development, a mixed-use
project that pairs the initiatives of Clean Ohio's environmental stance
with the highest goals of Civil Design. It's all connected, as is the URS
staff's database of expert knowledge.
Part of that staff connectivity is due to the firm's breakthrough communications
efforts, which includes a wireless data collection and permitting process,
with PDAs used to collect data and send it to a database, set up through
a custom-designed URS client website.
URS is also on the leading edge of sustainability. Take commissioning,
for example. URS has what it takes to do certified commissioning, sustainable
over time, in a seamless fashion. The whole process is to bring the building
up to speed for services, and URS has the depth of experience and talent
to do it as a formal process.
URS is structured around captured geographic markets, says Hribar, adding
that the firm is just starting to "do more work outside of our area."
Here locally, he says, major business is found in colleges, healthcare,
the power sector, the federal government and local municipalities, as well
as the private sector.
Providing qualified construction and project management services achieves
quality, cost and scheduling objectives and is one of the URS core practices,
as attested by its No. 1 ranking in the Engineering-News Record's Combined
Design and Professional Services category. And this is only the beginning.
"As we continue to diversify," says Hribar, "we will continue
to build on our recent successes." BXM