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IndustryDesign, Engineering consulting, Environment consulting, Project management
FounderWilliam Barclay Parsons (1885)
Number of locations
New York, London, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney and approximately 150 other offices worldwide
Area served
Key people
Lewis Cornell, President and CEO, U.S.
ProductsStrategic consulting, planning, design, program management, engineering, construction services and operations & maintenance
Number of employees
Approximately 14,000 worldwide
ParentWSP Global

WSP USA, formerly WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff and Parsons Brinckerhoff,[1] is a multinational engineering and design firm with approximately 14,000 employees. The firm operates in the fields of strategic consulting, planning, engineering, construction management, energy, infrastructure and community planning. In 2013, the company was named the tenth largest U.S.-based engineering/design firm by Engineering News Record.[2] In 2020, it was ranked #7 of the Top 500 Design Firms and #2 of the Top 100 Pure Designers by the same magazine.[3] On October 31, 2014 Parsons Brinckerhoff became a wholly owned independent subsidiary of WSP Global,[4] a Canadian-based professional services firm. Parsons Brinckerhoff was renamed to WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff, then to WSP USA in 2017. Together with WSP Global, WSP USA is one of the largest professional services firms in the world with approximately 31,500 employees in 500 offices serving 39 countries.[5]


Chief Engineer William Barclay Parsons and the NYC Subway

Founded in 1885 in New York City by civil engineer William Barclay Parsons, among Parsons Brinckerhoff's earliest projects was the original IRT line of the New York City Subway, designed by Parsons Brinckerhoff and opened in 1904.[6] Parsons Brinckerhoff also designed the Cape Cod Canal, which opened in 1914 [7] and charted the course of a railway in China from Hankow (Wuhan) to Canton (Guangzhou), a line that is also still in use today.[8] In 1906, Henry M. Brinckerhoff, a highway engineer, brought his expertise in electric railways to the firm. He is known for his co-invention of the third rail.[9]

The firm has worked on some of the most notable infrastructure projects of the 20th century, including: the Detroit–Windsor Tunnel (1930);[10] the Scheldt Tunnel in Antwerp, Belgium (1933);[11] The Buzzards Bay Railroad Bridge on Cape Cod, Massachusetts (1935);[12] The 1939 World's Fair in New York City;[13] the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey (1957);[14] the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia (1957);[15] the Pell Bridge in Newport, Rhode Island (1969);[16] the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (United States) (1980);[17] the I-95/Fort McHenry Tunnel (1980);[18] the H-3 Highway in Oahu, Hawaii (1997);[19] the Sabiya Power Station in Kuwait (2000)[20] and the rapid transit systems of San Francisco (1972);[21] Atlanta (1979);[22] Singapore (1987);[23] Taipei (1996);[24] and Caracas (1983).[25]

Parsons Brinckerhoff was acquired by Balfour Beatty in October 2009 and operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Balfour Beatty plc. In October 2010 Balfour Beatty acquired Halsall Associates, which became a subsidiary of Parsons Brinckerhoff and part of its Canadian operations.[26]

Acquisition by WSP Global[edit]

Former logo of WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff

On October 31, 2014 Balfour Beatty sold Parsons Brinckerhoff to WSP Global. In 2017 Parsons Brinckerhoff changed its name to WSP USA. On September 3, 2014, it was announced that WSP Global had made an offer to purchase Parsons Brinckerhoff from Balfour Beatty plc for US$1.24 billion.[27] The transaction closed on October 31, 2014[28] and Parsons Brinckerhoff became a wholly owned subsidiary of WSP Global. On January 10, 2017, it was announced that the brand Parsons Brinckerhoff would be retired and combined into the parent company, WSP Global. WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff is now called WSP USA.

Following the acquisition of Louis Berger Group by WSP Global in 2018 for $400 million, the operations of Louis Berger Group in the United States were merged with WSP USA's. WSP USA acquired two US-based environmental consulting firms over the next two years: Ecology & Environment (E & E) in 2019[29], and LT Environmental in 2020[30].

Current Projects[edit]

The firm is involved in several major expansions of the public transportation system in the New York metropolitan area, including the new 7 Subway Extension, Second Avenue Subway, and Long Island Rail Road's East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal,[31] Other current and recent projects include: the Taiwan High Speed Rail Project;[32] the Bosphorus rail tunnel in Istanbul;[33] The Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Washington, D.C.;[34] an extension of the East London Line of the London Overground;[35] and the Medupi Power Station in South Africa.[36] It is also involved with the redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport in New York City, New York[37] and the expansion of the JetBlue Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport. It is the leading firm for the Charlotte Douglas International Airport Airfield Expansion[38], the new Dallas Fort Worth International Airport Southwest End-Around Taxiway, and master plan updates at Philadelphia International Airport and San Antonio International Airport[39].


Parsons Brinckerhoff partnered with rival engineering firm Bechtel to build the troubled Big Dig in Boston, Massachusetts. The Big Dig, or Central Artery/Tunnel project as it was officially known, was intended to replace an elevated Interstate freeway and connecting roads with a tunnel system underneath Boston. The project was beset with bad engineering, shoddy workmanship, and the death of an automobile passenger as a poor ceiling design caused a tunnel roof section to collapse on a car in the tunnel, crushing the victim. The Big Dig was years over schedule and engineering costs to several times of Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff's original estimates, from $8 Billion to in excess of $24 Billion. Due to the poor construction, it has been estimated that the Big Dig's life span will be far short of the original specification that taxpayers paid for. The tunnels still have "thousands of leaks" and substandard materials. Subsequent to the fatal tunnel ceiling collapse, light fixtures have been found to have been incorrectly installed and corroding, posing a risk of failure and falling to the tunnel roadway.[40]

Parsons Brinckerhoff was also the lead engineering firm to build the Silver Spring, Maryland transportation center. Despite a ballooning budget and a project that has run far behind schedule, the transit center was poorly constructed and has not become operational due to poor design and workmanship. In April 2014, The Washington Post published an exposé on Parsons Brinckerhoff's troubled transit center, reporting that an independent report has found that the public would be at risk due to falling concrete and needs a significant redesign and upgrades.[41]

Parsons Brinckerhoff was part of a lawsuit for Lane Cove Tunnel, Sydney, Australia.[42] The claim by AMP Capital Investors for Australian $144 million was settled in September 2014. The basis of the claim was 'Misleading and defective conduct' but the settlement is on confidential terms with no admission of liability.


  1. ^ "Who We Are". WSP. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  2. ^ "ENR 2020 Top 500 Design Firms Preview,"Parsons Brinckerhoff, 2020
  3. ^ "The Top 500 Design Firms,"Parsons Brinckerhoff, 2013
  4. ^ "Press release WSP Global".
  5. ^ "News WSP Global".
  6. ^ Clifton Hood, 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993).
  7. ^ William James Reid, The Building of the Cape Cod Canal (New York: George McKibbin and Son, Inc., 1961).
  8. ^ "'L' Engines on Chinese Road," New-York Tribune, January 15, 1905
  9. ^ Lisa Moses, "Henry M. Brinckerhoff," APWA Reporter, August 1981.
  10. ^ S.A. Thoresen, "Constructing the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel," Civil Engineering, April 1931.
  11. ^ S.A. Thoresen, "Shield-Driven Tunnels Near Completion Under the Schelde at Antwerp," Engineering News-Record, June 29, 1933
  12. ^ Lift Span Over Cape Cod Canal Sets New Precedents," Engineering News-Record, January 30, 1936
  13. ^ John P. Hogan, "Construction Organization and Technique," Engineering News-Record, September 22, 1938
  14. ^ New Jersey eases some traffic jams with long parkway," Engineering News-Record, September 16, 1954
  15. ^ Thomas R. Kuesel, "A tale of three tunnels," Civil Engineering, December 1974.
  16. ^ Alfred Hedefine and Louis G. Silano, "Newport Bridge foundations," Civil Engineering, October 1968.
  17. ^ Bruce A. Beaubouef, "The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: U.S. Energy Security and Oil Politics, 1975-2005", Texas A&M University Press, August 2007.
  18. ^ Corrinne S Bernstein, "Tunneling Around Ft. McHenry," Civil Engineering, July 1986.
  19. ^ Ray Bert, "Paradise Crossed," Civil Engineering, July 1998
  20. ^ "Combined Heat & Power in Saudi Arabia," Worldwide Independent Power, September 1, 2010.
  21. ^ Thomas R. Kuesel, "Bart subway construction: planning and costs," Civil Engineering, March 1969.
  22. ^ "First line of Atlanta's new transit system opens," Civil Engineering, July 1979.
  23. ^ Rajam Krishnan and K.S. Chan, "Singapore on the Move," Civil Engineering, November 2003
  24. ^ Scott Danielson, "Enter the Dragon," Civil Engineering, November 1994
  25. ^ Venezuela Accelerates $1.5 Billion Caracas Metro Project," The New York Times, March 12, 1977
  26. ^
  27. ^ Tess Stynes (September 3, 2014). "Balfour Beatty to Sell Parsons Brinckerhoff to WSP Global". WSJ.
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ Aileen Cho, "Cavernous Crusades," Engineering News-Record, February 7, 2011
  32. ^ C. Michael Gillam, and Bradford F. Townsend, "Orient Express," Civil Engineering, April 2009
  33. ^ Daniel Horgan and Christian Ingerslev, "Crossing Continents and Centuries," Civil Engineering, April 2009
  34. ^ "Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project Is Names 2008 OCEA Winner," ASCE News, May 2008
  35. ^ "East London Rail Extension, Upgrade Completed Early," Civil Engineering December 2010
  36. ^ Debra K. Rubin and Peter Reina, "Making 1+1=3," Engineering News-Record, August 30, 2010
  37. ^
  38. ^ WSP USA Named Engineer Partner for CLT Expansion,
  39. ^ Strategic Development Plan Effort Continues at the San Antonio International Airport,
  40. ^ Report: Even More Big Dig Leaks Found - Big Dig News Story - WCVB Boston Archived May 23, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  41. ^ [1], "Transit center report: Public at risk from falling concrete without additional repairs"
  42. ^ Supreme Court New South Wales Court Ref No 2009/290489

External links[edit]