• From A to AECOM: Architecture Practice at the Twilight of Professional Tradition
    Aaron Cayer
    University of California Press, 2025
    Aaron Cayer

DMJM, “Space Flight Operations Complex, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory,” from: “Company General Brochure: A Presentation of the Work of Daniel, Mann, Johnson, & Mendenhall,” 1967. Courtesy Stanley A. Moe papers, Huntington Library, San Marino, CA

By the end of the twentieth century, architecture firms known as “corporate conglomerates” were ranked among the largest revenue-generators within American cities. They individually held more capital than entire nations, employed more people than populated most cities, and they rented offices in more countries than comprised the United Nations. This book offers a history of architecture practice that not only traces how small nineteenth-century partnerships ballooned into twentieth-century multi-sectoral conglomerates, but also how such firms impacted the profession and postwar political economy. By using the architecture and engineering firm AECOM as a lens through which to view this history, the book reveals how once-guarded concepts of “building design” were expanded to include virtually everything, from construction to real estate to military operations to data processing. In so doing, the book describes that the profession of architecture was liberated from its previous standard.

Aaron Cayer is an assistant professor of architecture at the California State University, Pomona where his work focuses on the history and theory of architecture firms, the profession, and political economies. He received his PhD in architecture history from the University of California, Los Angeles as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture from Norwich University. He is the recipient of several international research awards, prizes, and fellowships, including the 2023–24 Rome Prize by the American Academy in Rome; the 2020–21 Barbara Thom Fellowship at the Huntington Library; and the 2022 Kristine Fallon Prize by the International Archive of Women in Architecture. He has published several articles and book chapters about the history of architecture firms and architectural education and is currently working on two new book projects: one about professional practice and another about men, masculinity, and architecture.