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Scholarship of Design
Shaping an Urban Practice:
AECOM and the Rise of Multinational Architecture Conglomerates
Aaron Cayer
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The history of the multinational architecture and engineering firm AECOM provides a powerful account of the transformations taking place within architectural practice during the end of the twentieth century. The firm grew from a small profit-sapping partnership named Daniel, Mann, Johnson, and Mendenhall during the mid-1940s, becoming the largest architecture, engineering, and urban planning conglomerate in the world. This paper describes how conglomeration—the acquisition of diverse and existing firms—was predicated on fundamental shifts in the definition and value of architectural labor that broadened the domain of architectural work and enabled architectural practice to take on the shape of entire urban economies.

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