Henningson's Journal 1919

Defining Moments in Our History


Henningson Engineering Company is Born

In his travels to small Nebraska towns, Henning H. Henningson quickly realized that these communities needed civil engineering services to build water works, sewer systems, streets and electric plants. And so in mid-1917, with World War I in progress, Henningson founded the Henningson Engineering Company in Omaha, Nebraska.

H.H. Henningson
First Contract


Henningson Brings Power to the Plains

July 21, 1917

The company's first client was the City of Ogallala, Nebraska, for which Henningson designed a power house. As Henningson saw it, cities and towns could benefit from a "middleman" who worked between municipalities and their building contractors and equipment vendors. He would design a project to fit the client's needs and then protect the owner's interests during project construction. It's a philosophy that contributed to the company's early success and continues to this day.


The Firm Quickly Earns a Reputation for Work Well Done

August 5, 1917

After initially working on projects for small communities in Iowa and Nebraska, the firm was soon completing jobs as far away as Illinois, Colorado, South Dakota, Missouri and Kansas. In these early years, the company not only offered engineering services, but construction services as well if the contractor's bids were not acceptable to Henningson. This is the first known advertisement for Henningson Engineering Company.

Classifieds 1917
Henningson Drafting Room


Henningson Engineering Continues to Grow

With the war over, the United States entered an era of optimism, and the positive environment helped Henningson Engineering prosper. In 1919, the firm moved to a new downtown Omaha location: 302 National Building. During this period, the drafting room (pictured) housed a dozen engineers, who started at a salary of $125 a month.


Municipal Engineering Increases

1920 - 1929

During the 1920s, Henningson Engineering designed hundreds of public works projects for small communities throughout the Midwest. In addition to municipal power and light plants, the firm also designed streets, sewer systems, swimming pools, grain elevators, schools, and even a courthouse.

Gretna Nebraska
Rural Electrification Flier 1936


Rural Electrification Distinguishes the Firm

Henningson played a major role in organizing most of the public power districts across Nebraska under the Rural Electrification Act, serving as designer and also contractor on some projects. It was while working on the REA District 7 project in Nebraska that Henningson met a young electrical engineer named Willard A. Richardson, who would later become the 'R' in HDR.


Henningson Engineering Branches Out

Henningson offered Charles Durham and Willard Richardson each one-third interest in his business, making Henningson the president, Durham the vice president and Richardson secretary-treasurer. Photo: HDR Headquarters from 1940-1960

Early HDR Office | Omaha Nebraska
Early HDR Office | Omaha Nebraska


A New Era of Leadership

Henningson Engineering became known officially as Henningson, Durham & Richardson, Inc. (HDR). Durham was named president and Richardson vice president. Henningson retired in 1953.


HDR Poised for Growth

HDR's architectural department quickly flourished into a thriving business with a growing national profile. Among its early projects, is the New Federal Building located in Omaha, Nebraska (pictured).

Federal Building | Omaha Nebraska
Guanabara Water Project in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


HDR Attains Worldwide Reach

HDR diversifies services with offices across the United States as well as project offices in Madrid, South Korea and Rome. One of the most significant international projects at the time was the Guanabara Water Project in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (pictured).


HDR Builds on International Profile

Bouygues SA, France's largest construction company, purchased HDR as part of its global strategy and further enhanced HDR's design-build capabilities. At the time, HDR took on many projects affecting large populations, including the Fort Pitt Bridge in Pittsburgh (pictured).

Fort Pitt Bridge | Pittsburgh
Pen used to sign employee ownership acquisition


HDR Thrives as Employee-Owned Firm

HDR purchased the company from Bouygues, returning the firm to U.S. ownership.


One Company, Many Solutions

HDR completed repurchase of company stock two years ahead of schedule and was now entirely employee-owned. Photo: The longest cable-stay span in North America, the Ravenel Bridge, opened in 2005 as a landmark project for HDR and the state of South Carolina.

Cooper River Bridge | Charleston, South Carolina
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi


Growing Number of Worldwide Projects Leads to Expansion

Further expanding HDR's global reach, the company opens offices around the world in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Mongolia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates. HDR received numerous industry awards for its global projects, including Modern Healthcare’s bronze award for the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (pictured).