A New Century and a New Name
Continued expansion of the company's design practice following the turn of the century caused Old Engine Company No. 1 to be bursting at the seams. The company was faced with either moving to another location or building new office space. Although land for expansion on each side of the firehouse was not available, a ramshackle building across the street was. Once again the principals showed leadership in downtown revitalization by buying and rehabilitating the historic Kessel Bakery Building. They used New Urbanist design principles to create a mixed-use project of storefronts, office spaces, and loft apartments. This undertaking won several historic preservation awards, and was cited as an outstanding effort to "eliminate slum and blight."
Scott Williams joined Cranston, Robertson & Whitehurst, P.C. in 2002 and soon emerged as a leader in the design of important public works and roadway projects for the company's public sector clients. Under his direction, the firm completed a major transmission pipeline connecting Fort Gordon to the Augusta water treatment plant, a large pumping station and force main for the Spirit Creek wastewater drainage basin, and recreation developments at Diamond Lakes Regional Park. He continues to lead the company's design of major projects for institutional and local government clients and state departments of transportation.
Growth of the firm in this decade created the need for a more efficient organizational structure. Changes in setup grew out of the ongoing strategic planning programs that had guided the company's direction for many years. The new setup created engineering design groups that mostly followed the types of clients served, municipal/institutional, private development, transportation, and structural/architectural, with the surveying group to support them all. The new organization of design studios allowed the firm to focus better on each specific area of practice and the unique needs of each client.
In 2006 Ridge Whitehurst announced his intention of retiring, not only from the company, but also from the practice of consulting engineering. The departure of Whitehurst afforded an opportunity to adopt a new identity.
Tom Robertson led the move to change the firm name to Cranston Engineering Group, P.C. This name at once identified the main business of the company as engineering, while retaining the long-recognized name of the firm's major founder. Moreover, it eliminated the surprisingly frequent assumption by the confused public that the company was a law firm. Robertson remained as President, although his name left the top of the letterhead.