Urban Engineers, Inc. is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In that time, Urban has engaged in regional planning, engineering design, environmental services and construction management. Areas of expertise include: aviation, bridges, highways, marine, program management, railroads, transit, traffic/ITS, environmental, urban planning, land development, and litigation support.
On August 1,1960, from the dissolution of Lawrence T. Beck and Associates due to bankruptcy, Urban Engineers was established by Robert Olson, P.E., president; Edward D'Alba, P.E., vice president ; and K. Yervant Terzian, P.E., secretary/treasurer. The founders set up their business in a row house at 1619 Chestnut St., Philadelphia. The Firm retained and completed several of Beck’s existing contracts. Urban focused its early work on highway, building, and bridge design, including such notable projects as the Delaware Expressway (I-95) and the Philadelphia Planning Commission’s urban renewal initiative, led by Edmund Bacon, whose design ideas helped shape the Philadelphia of today. D’Alba recalls, “Smaller projects were welcome too, like the mapping of underground utilities for the City of Philadelphia. This 'shelf work' kept the firm busy when major projects were slow to come.”
According to D’Alba, the founders were intimately involved in all aspects of the business. Each principal leader was responsible for an area of the firm - Olson for administration and sales, D’Alba for highways, and Terzian for bridge and building design. D’Alba recalls, “We were the chief, cook, and bottle washer. While we promoted work, managed projects, and administered the business, we also took turns emptying the trash baskets.” In 1993, principal ownership was transferred to the current leadership duo of Edward D’Alba, P.E., president and Joseph McAtee, P.E., executive vice president.
Today, Urban is a privately owned firm (ESOP) approaching 500 people in ten regional offices in seven states, with offices in Philadelphia, Mechanicsburg, and Erie, Pennsylvania; Cherry Hill, New Jersey; New Castle, Delaware; Baltimore, Maryland; Hartford, Connecticut; Dallas, Texas; and New York City and Buffalo, New York.
Some of the firm's most challenging and exciting projects currently underway include:
- Project management oversight of FTA Mega-Rail Projects: East Side Access and Second Avenue Subway (NYC)
- Walt Whitman Bridge re-decking (Philadelphia, PA)
- New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway widening
- New York City Economic Development Corporation’s South Bronx Greenway Project (NYC)
- $4 billion Guam Infrastructure and Improvement Program
With the need to rebuild America’s infrastructure, Urban’s future looks bright. D’Alba states, “Three Leaders, four employees, a lucky seven in total, rolled the dice and began a journey that has now lasted 50 years and shows no signs of slowing. The Urban family was groomed in the last fifty to be the best in the next fifty.”