Facility Spotlight: AECOM San Diego

A bit of background – Jolie Lucas is an IFMA SD member, and a consultant who assists clients in managing their facilities; Note: Jolie does not manage AECOM’s facilities. When asked to write an article about AECOM’s facilities, Jolie thought it would be a great opportunity to interview Heather Archer, AECOM’s San Diego Operations and Facilities Manager extraordinaire.

AECOM is a global network of experts working with clients, communities and colleagues to develop and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most complex challenges. We design, build, finance and operate infrastructure assets for governments, businesses and organizations in more than 150 countries. This year, AECOM was named “most admired company” by Fortune Magazine for the third consecutive year and for the eighth consecutive year, ranked number one by revenue in Engineering News Record’s Top 500 Design Firms.


A consolidation of four San Diego offices into two took place shortly after the 2014
acquisition of URS Corporation, which more than doubled our revenue and workforce. In our area, AECOM leases approximately 49,000 square feet on three floors of 1 Columbia Place in downtown San Diego to accommodate 211 full-time employees, and another 14,000 square feet in La Jolla to accommodate 106 full-time employees. These spaces also support a number of part-time and temporary employees, and include lobbies, large kitchen areas, bathrooms, some flex/café style spaces and conference rooms of a variety of sizes. The downtown office also has a large room available for meetings, training, and evening events, at an additional cost of $45/hour. Security is provided by the building.

The office move resulted in a technology upgrade, facilitating greater communication, efficient workflow, and employee engagement. Conference rooms providing webinar capabilities via flat screen televisions and secure wi-fi are scheduled online and through the tablets located outside each door. The new AECOM furniture standards provide adjustable sit/stand desks for all employees. Glass exterior walls, white laminated furniture finishes and low cubicle partitions keep the office open, airy and bright (although many of us on the west side of the building were dismayed to see construction commence on a high-rise apartment building that will soon block our view of the San Diego waterfront.) Central core areas have curved organic walls that help to prevent the impression of a cubicle ghetto. For many employees, the consolidation included a downsizing of assigned space. However, the variety of workspaces, modern furnishings, and banks of lateral files, bookshelves and lockers help to support the diverse needs of the employees.

Dividing her time between the San Diego and La Jolla offices, the AECOM on-site San Diego facility manager, Heather Archer, is impressive. She is direct, personable, efficient and warm – seemingly contradictory terms but she makes them work. As she explained how she ended up in facilities management, I became aware that she had essentially earned an on-the-job-degree in the 11 areas of core competency identified by IFMA. She has worked in accounting, construction management, office management and now at AECOM she applies all the skills she has accumulated. She is responsible for onboarding new employees and all the HR paperwork, purchasing, vendors and suppliers, bills and budgets, supervising reception personnel, and facilities/operations. She credits a great HR mentor and boss for much of her success.