Who we are and what we do

Barr provides engineering and environmental consulting services to clients across North America and around the world. We have been employee owned since 1966 and trace our origins to the early 1900s. Our engineers, scientists, and technical specialists work together to help clients develop, manage, process, and restore natural resources.

At Barr, we solve clients’ problems as if they were our own. We’ll bring to your projects the insights and expertise we've gained from our work on thousands of projects—and a promise to do our best work on your behalf.

Barr has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, most recently appearing on the following Engineering News-Record annual lists: 

#3, Top 10 Mining, 2021
#7, Top Wind Power, 2021
#14, Top 15 Site Assessment and Compliance, 2021
#40, Top Design Firms in Power, 2021
#89, Top 100 Pure Designers, 2021
#110, Top 500 Design Firms, 2021
#177, Top 225 International Design Firms, 2020
#38, Top Design Firms in Petroleum, 2020
#14, Top 15 Dams and Reservoirs, 2021
#15, Top 25 Refineries and Petrochemicals Plants, 2021
#23, Top 25 Fossil Fuel, 2021
#31, Top Design Firms in 50 Water Supply, 2021
#40, Top Design Firms in Petroleum, 2021
#40, Top Design Firms in Power, 2020
#44, Industrial Process Design, 2020
#32, Top Design Firms in Manufacturing, 2020
#120, Top 200 Environmental Firms, 2019

Barr is an EEO employer. Interested in joining us? Please visit our Careers section to view job opportunities.

Our core values

We commit to providing an exceptional client experience by putting ourselves in our clients’ shoes to help identify and solve their problems and by being responsible for the solutions.

We act as employee owners who view ownership as a privilege and a responsibility and are proud of what we do and who we are.

We consult collaboratively and recognize that we can accomplish more when we work together, sharing knowledge and skills in an inclusive and diverse environment.

We believe that, working together, we can make a difference.

Our locations

Headquartered in Minneapolis, we have offices in Duluth and Hibbing, Minnesota; Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Jefferson City, Missouri; Reno, Nevada; Bismarck, North Dakota; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Denver, Colorado. Our Calgary, Alberta, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, offices operate under the name Barr Engineering and Environmental Science Canada, Ltd.

In addition, we meet the needs of regional and national clients through satellite offices, shown in green below, in Rock Springs, Wyoming, and Fort McMurray, Alberta.


For over half a century, Barr has been guided by the workplace philosophy of our founder, Doug Barr, who advocated providing an environment where employees can collaborate, grow as professionals, and do their best work. We’re proud to be a great place to work and proud of our work with clients on award-winning and challenging projects.

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Giving back

At Barr, we’re grateful for the support of the communities in which we live and work. We give back to them through volunteer efforts that range from collecting litter along highways to mentoring future engineers and scientists to building houses for Habitat for Humanity.

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Barr's history

In the early 1950s, Doug Barr contacted Adolph Meyer, a renowned hydraulic engineer, about the prospect of work in Minnesota. Doug’s early projects involved hydraulic engineering and hydrology. One was the Nebraska Mid-State Irrigation Project, which entailed designing 23 reservoirs, four hydropower plants, flood-control channels and dams, and irrigation delivery systems for a 500,000-acre area. Other early projects were at sites where we still work and for clients with whom we have partnered for decades.

By 1960, Doug Barr was established as a one-person firm and took on his first employee, John Dickson, who stayed until his retirement in 1997. Barr’s business with mining clients on northern Minnesota’s Iron Range continued to grow, and we expanded our structural and geotechnical engineering services.

In 1966, Barr Engineering Co. was incorporated as an employee-owned firm with 16 employees. One of them was Al Gebhard, who succeeded Doug Barr as the company’s president in 1985 and served until 1999. Doug Connell was named Barr’s president and CEO in 2000, followed by John Lee in 2013. Ward Swanson became our current president and CEO in 2021.

Today, we often work with clients on large, complex—and sometimes controversial—engineering and environmental projects, for which we provide everything from initial permitting and siting assistance through process and facility design to construction management, operations support, and closure planning. 

Over more than half a century, Barr’s services and staff have grown to meet our clients’ needs. We have also expanded geographically, opening offices in seven states and Canada and merging with other firms to provide the exceptional service and expertise our clients have come to expect.

Incorporated in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Acquired A.W. Mathews of Hibbing, Minnesota
Opened offices in Duluth, Minnesota, and Ann Arbor, Michigan
Acquired Environmental Concepts of Jefferson City, Missouri
Acquired Service Engineering Group of St. Paul and Kaeding & Associates of Minneapolis
Opened office in Bismarck, North Dakota
Opened office in Calgary, Alberta, as Barr Engineering and Environmental Science Canada Ltd.
Acquired Horizon Environmental Corporation of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Opened office in Salt Lake City, Utah, and acquired Darg, Bolgrean, Menk, Inc. of Minneapolis
Acquired Sage Environmental, LLC, of Salt Lake City
Acquired Marquez Environmental Services Inc. and High Energy Inc. of Denver, Colorado
Acquired King & MacGregor Environmental, Inc. of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Opened office in Reno, Nevada