AT Osborne’s roots lie in the reconstruction period, where we served as experts in cost management for construction projects.
The Netherlands experienced a wave of construction and rebuilding following the end of World War II. The construction costs often spiralled out of control, which led to no small amount of dissatisfaction among clients and negative publicity. At that time in the Netherlands, there were no experts around to apply cost control procedures to the entire construction process.
During the turbulent years of the 1960s, Jack Osborne crossed the channel to launch the concept of quantity surveying in the Netherlands through the consulting firm Berenschot. Berenschot Osborne was added to the commercial register in March 1968. Things got off to a rocky start in Rotterdam: an empty floor of office space with a few tables and upturned bins to sit on. Even so, Jack Osborne persevered and the concept of surveying the construction costs of a project gradually caught on.
Things changed when Berenschot Osborne received an order to take care of cost management during the construction of four academic hospitals. These were major contracts that helped the agency to expand rapidly. This took the company through to the 1970s, a period in which people became more affluent and the population grew. Villages and towns developed at a rapid pace. Berenschot Osborne added spatial planning to its portfolio of services, and expanded its expertise by incorporating Berenschot’s knowledge about project management.
In the 1980s, it became clear that large swathes of the population were concerned about nature and the environment. Laws became stricter. As a result, the firm started providing legal advice specifically for construction projects. This new knowledge attracted a new type of customer from the industry and urban development sector. One example project was the Utrecht City Project, whose aim was to make the city more hospitable, more organised and safer. Many of the principles embodied by this project can be seen today in the strategy employed for the area around the train station (which AT Osborne is involved in once again). Large-scale projects of this kind called for a new type of expertise: environmental management. The firm expanded beyond domestic borders and established a branch in Brussels.
In the 1990s, buildings became increasingly more complex due to energy efficiency requirements, healthy building principles, more complex building techniques and advanced installations. This led to a need for specialist knowledge, especially in conjunction with the construction of highly technical facilities such as operating theatres or laboratories. AT Osborne was involved in the construction of various hospitals, waste incineration plants and university buildings, and in the renovation of around 500 bank branches for ABN Amro.
The Dutch population continued to grow. In the years leading up to the turn of the century, increased mobility made it necessary to invest heavily in infrastructure. Berenschot Osborne was called in to assist with the largest infrastructure project it had ever been involved in: the Betuweroute double track freight railway. Population growth also meant that available land (already scarce) had to be used more carefully. Area development subsequently became more important, with Osborne continuing to building on its knowledge and expertise.
In 2003, an employee buyout by the employees resulted in the firm separating from Berenschot and the founding of AT Osborne. The A and T stand for Afink and Taylor, the former company directors. This fresh impetus led to further growth and the company moved to its premises in Baarn in 2007, though not before it was renovated – while respecting the building’s history. It is now the most sustainable monument in the Netherlands. The company now brings its full portfolio to bear on once-in-a-lifetime projects such as the Amsterdam Metro North-South Line, SSCV Thialf and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Such projects are no longer located solely within the Netherlands – AT Osborne provides its services in Curaçao, France, Belgium and the Czech Republic as well, and is increasingly serving in an advisory capacity while taking care of project realisation.
It is clear that our living environments are constantly adapting in response to new circumstances. Over the years, our company has followed – and helped to shape – developments in society. As a result, its service portfolio is changing all the time. AT Osborne has now been working to improve living environments with sustainable solutions to complex issues for the past 50 years. And we always pay close attention to who we are doing it for. Our slogan, ‘Urban Matters, People Matter”, perfectly encapsulates this.
What will the future bring? We’ll find out together.