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Thread: Top planning and design firms

  1. #1
    Cyburbian planr's avatar
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    Top planning and design firms

    Hey guys... I'm trying to compile a list of the more well-respected and well-known private planning/design firms in the industry, moreso out of curiosity than with the intention to send out a wave of resumes. I'm thinking globally along the lines of EDAW and ARUP as well as nationally along the lines of Calthorpe and DPZ. Can y'all add to the list, preferably with links? thx

  2. #2
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    EDAW sucks, at least from my experience

    Moderator note:
    NO FIRM BASHING

    -Chet
    Last edited by Chet; 21 May 2007 at 2:52 PM.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    URS, HNTB.

    I know of handful of regional consulting firms, and a sleu of local consulting firms in my area (direct competitiors).

  4. #4
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Skilled Adoxographer

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    Why do you say EDAW sucks? I'm trying to apply to several firms and I'd like to hear different experiences. Also if any one has any recomendations of any firms anywhere, please let me know. I'm new to this!
    peace

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    If your looking for a consultanting firm i guess it depends on what type of work you want to do. I think my firm is great, but since we only do work in California, we get only regional respect. And plus, do you want to work a firm that is multi-disciplinary or just strictly planning?
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    I've heard of contractors having problems with EDAW construction documents, but I think a lot of their design is really great. They are expensive of course. Stantec doesn't take care of its people very well and is a gobbler company in that it buys out other firms and guts them and then jams people together and expects them to work well. I found a site with some rants about RRM design earlier, though nothing I can vouch for from personal experience. Van Dyke is a sweatshop that burns through people like a wildfire. Not bashing, that's personal experience.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by boilerplater View post
    I found a site with some rants about RRM design earlier, though nothing I can vouch for from personal experience.
    I think i can vouch
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  9. #9
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    I'm graduating this up comming May, and I'd like to find a job with a consulting firm. I'm looking to get experience in urban planning or design. I havent been trained in that field, but I'll have a BA in sociology and International-intercultural studies. With an emphasis in interdisciplinary approach and methodologies. Can any one recommend me to a firm or any other organization, that considers recent graduates for entry-level positions?

    Peace

  10. #10
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    I'm definitely not in California, but I like to think that the public sector is a great gateway when you are coming out of school. From my experience, many of the private firms really value the practical knowledge gained by becoming grotesquely familiar with zoning ordinances, development codes, whatever as well as the plan review and public process. That is unless you work for a public sector entity that feels it is somehow most effective to hire consultants to do everything so that they're AICP planners end up managing consulting bills like a bunch of trained monkeys.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by asanchez View post
    I'm graduating this up comming May, and I'd like to find a job with a consulting firm. I'm looking to get experience in urban planning or design. I havent been trained in that field, but I'll have a BA in sociology and International-intercultural studies. With an emphasis in interdisciplinary approach and methodologies. Can any one recommend me to a firm or any other organization, that considers recent graduates for entry-level positions?

    Peace
    Do you have experience in planning or design, or have any classwork that demonstrates these skills?

  12. #12
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    I think there is real value in commencing your career after finishing school in a large corporation -
    • you get good exposure to big projects,
    • possibly some cool travel, and
    • it's rarely a resume stain
    • you will work you tail off and learn how to take care of yourself (see below),
    • you might be able to work your way up the ladder and have the corporate benefits and protections, plus
    • you instantly make some new friends (just statistically, there will be someone there that you connect with personally - this is also good if you have relocated to a city where you don't know anyone)

    The downside, and isn't there always, is that
    • you may get exposure to all aspects of the project, but you do risk being pigeon-holed into always getting to do only one aspect of that big project -
    • you also risk being the first to go when there is a recession, as planners in multidisciplinary firms often see their planning divisions as fluff, but not always (though if you are a star, you might just get transferred)
    • speaking of being the star, some of these firms can be internally cut-throat and competitive and,
    • a lot of big firms are *fondly* known as sweat shops - (but on the positive, your work ethic will be strengthened)

    so you have to weigh it all - I fell into smaller firms when I graduated in 1986 becasue that's where the work was at the time -

    small firms give you more exposure, you can move quickly into project manager roles if they get a big job that they don't have enough managers for, you learn directly under the principal of the firm (which is great for mentoring), and if it's a firm that wants to grow then you can become part of that growth - the downside is you may not like your mentor and you have little cushion for job security if there is no work coming in

    good luck and keep us posted -

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    What makes one a top firm?

    alot of ads in Planning Magazine? Number of employees? Number of offices?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    What makes one a top firm?

    alot of ads in Planning Magazine? Number of employees? Number of offices?
    The projects.


    Working in a smaller firm (less than 15 people) and being the only planner, I get to take on all of the planning projects (comprehensive plans, lot designs, ordinance creation, transportation planning). But I am also responsible for knowing everything about all of the projects I have ever worked on.

    As luckless said, working in a small firm can also be a roller coaster: I might not have a ton of projects for months at a time and then I get hit with at least 3-4 on top of each other (for the past three weeks I have been doing this, putting in 12 hour days and some weekends). Because I am the lone "specialist" in my firm, I am sometimes viewed as an outsider: I don't have the same strong bonds like the landscape architects or ecologists in my firm.

    I also want to either start my own firm one day or make partner at another firm. I do contract work with a much smaller competitor doing exactly what I would like to do one day (fortunately the no-compete policy at my full time job is not strictly enforced). Both of these firms give me alot of exposure into the business side of running consulting firms.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 17 Oct 2007 at 10:30 AM.

  15. #15
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    What makes one a top firm?

    alot of ads in Planning Magazine? Number of employees? Number of offices?
    this gets hotly debated at most design-y type cocktail parties in the Boston metropolitan area - we used to get into the question of "is Sasaki really that great?" "I miss TAC", and "who is the LA king, Craig Halvorson or Carol Johnson?"

    I think a top firm, like any corporation in any field, is one where you as an employee feel challenged, rewarded, get some decent benefits, work on some decent successful projects that come in on time and under budget where the client isn't a complete @$$hole, and that you like coming to work most days -

    don't necessarily go by awards - the awards go to those that submit, many really good projects are not awarded because the firm is too busy being happily billable to pull together the exhaustive application

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