Arcadis is the US-based water and environmental consulting division of the global engineering and management consultancy Arcadis. It maintains a Birmingham office in the former Booker T. Washington building at 1728 3rd Avenue North.
Arcadis was founded in the Netherlands in 1888 as the Nederlandsche Heidemaatschappij (Dutch Heathland Society), an association with the goals of promoting the development of heaths or "waste lands" for the benefit of the public. The group gradually began practicing more like a consultancy, and was involved in state-funded programs to manage forested areas and develop extractive resource industries in the Netherlands.
During the global depression of the 1930s, the Heidemaatschappij operated state-funded work camps to provide employment and carry out civil works projects. During World War II some of those camps in occupied territory were converted into forced labor camps for Jews deported from Germany.
Beginning in the late 1950s the association provided consulting for projects in developing countries. In 1963 the society was recognized by the Dutch crown as the Koninklijke Nederlandsche Heidemaatschappij (KNHM). A decade later the society's commercial division was incorporated as the NV Heidemaatschappij Beheer while the non-profit advocacy group, which then controlled all of the public company's shares, continued as the KNHM.
In the early 1990s the commercial company began expanding in Europe, and in 1993 it acquired the Plainview, New York environmental services firm of Geraghty & Miller. The growing firm adopted the name "Arcadis" in 1997 and introduced a logo depicting a "fire salamander" which represents ecological balance.
In 2009 Arcadis acquired the firm Malcolm Pirnie, Inc., a major water and wastewater engineering firm founded by civil engineer Malcolm Pirnie in 1929 and headquartered in White Plains, New York. Malcolm Pirnie had entered the Birmingham market in the 1960s, but opened its first local office in 1995 at the Landmark Center on at 2100 1st Avenue North.
Scott Phillips was the founding manager of Malcolm Pirnie's Birmingham office. It became a regional headquarters when Phillips was promoted to oversee the company's southern region in 2000. The firm moved into the 2170 Building on Highland Avenue.
In 2008 Malcolm Pirnie, which had joined the Business Alliance for Responsible Development (BARD), lobbied local governments to withdraw from the public Storm Water Management Authority, and suggested that it could manage enforcement of federal stormwater runoff requirements at a lower cost under contract.
The division continued to operate as Malcolm Pirnie until it was rebranded as Arcadis US in 2013.
In late 2017 Arcadis summarily fired Birmingham-based vice-president Jerry Jones was indicted in connection with the company's alleged involvement in influence peddling related to its contracts with the Birmingham Water Works. He pleaded guilty to felony ethics charges before Judge Clyde Jones in February 2021.
- Milazzo, Don (January 2, 2000) "B'ham on short list for Malcolm Pirnie HQ." Birmingham Business Journal
- Bryant, Joseph D. (May 29, 2008) "Birmingham City Council committee recommends replacing Storm Water Management Authority with environmental engineering firm Malcolm Pirnie Inc." The Birmingham News
- Koplowitz, Howard (May 29, 2019) "Two men indicted in $230K fake Birmingham Water Works invoice scam." The Birmingham News
- Robinson, Carol (February 19, 2021) "Former Birmingham Water Works contractors plead guilty to felony ethics charges." The Birmingham News