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Our History

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Our History

Founders of Urban Engineers

Our History

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Our History

Urban Engineers, Inc. has a proud and significant history of turning problems into solutions. We have emerged as an engineering, management, and scientific leader since our inception in 1960 in the City of Philadelphia. The vision of our founders, shared and enhanced by a new generation of ownership, carries us towards great accomplishments and allows us to achieve, and often exceed, the goals of our assignments and the expectations of our clients.

August 1, 1960 The Founders. Robert C. Olson, PE (President), Edward J. D’Alba, PE (Vice President) and K. Yervant Terzian, PE (Secretary/Treasurer), along with four others from T. Beck & Associates, formed the ‘lucky seven’ and established Urban Engineers, Inc.


From the first office at 1619 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, PA, we focused our early work on highway and bridge design. Notable projects in the early years of the company included 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. Smaller projects were welcome too, like the mapping of underground utilities for the City of Philadelphia.

Early Successes: Though we, and our projects, began small, the exhilaration from early successes, positive attitudes, and diligent work by motivated people produced a solid foundation for growth.The small staff was well acquainted, and a ‘family’ atmosphere was encouraged. As we expanded into a medium-sized firm, the founders wanted it to expand in a controlled way, maintaining the family-like work environment and the commitment to quality and clients that existed when we were founded.

During this time, our vision began to look beyond the confines of our organization. Our reputation for ‘well done’ projects had preceded us to the client’s door and Urban realized large project successes – our momentum was strong. While maintaining a hands-on approach and focus on diversity and innovation, Urban grew to over 300 employees and attained the ISO 9001:2008 certification, the internationally-recognized gold standard for quality management. We also changed our corporate organization to better benefit our employees - we became an ESOP in 2001.

Today, we have grown far beyond our original seven employees to the nearly 500, from 1 office to 14 nationwide, but our roots remain – we are a family (a growing one). We are a Team that champions transformation and focuses on creating an environment that improves safety and quality of life for the clients and communities we serve.  

We have transitioned our leadership only three times throughout our company's history. From our start in 1960, then in 1990, and now in July of 2016. Through a strong internal mentoring process, the vision of our founders, combined with the passion of our new leaders, our passion and core values continue to carry us to great accomplishments. We are proud to be a Team who enhances how people live, work and play.