Specialty: Architecture, civil engineering, structural engineering, land-use planning, interior design, graphic design
BCRA’s staff has nearly tripled in size over the past five years; it grew from 90 to 125 in just the past year. President Jeff Brown attributes the firm’s expansion to the military, medical and retail/mixed-use markets, which have grown by leaps and bounds.
But with interest rates tightening, raw material prices steep, talent scarce and the longevity of the current economic expansion in doubt, Brown said he’d like to see growth of 15 percent next year.
He says the firm has been advertising “almost constantly” for new hires for the past six months. “We have been able to find them, but they’re getting scarcer.”
BCRA is hiring graduates right out of school and training them, treating them as long-term investments. It’s even importing an expert in 3-D digital graphics from the Philippines.
Back to the cities
One trend Brown has noticed in Pierce County and beyond is the return of residents to urban cores, especially as empty-nesters emerge from decades of suburban child-rearing.
“That particular movement is good for our society as a whole,” he says. “The sense of community created by people moving into an urban core is healthy.” He says it’s also cutting down on the environmental harm caused by transportation and material use.
BCRA is working to encourage that trend with an eight-block project in Tacoma. It’s now working with a developer to assemble the necessary properties. Brown says he’s seeing a lot more such collaborations as thousands of residential units go up in the city. He’s hoping BCRA’s work will help give Tacoma an attractive new district like Portland’s Pearl or Vancouver’s Granville Island. He envisions Tacoma’s Dome District becoming a signature neighborhood to live and play in — an arts-live-work community sandwiched between museums right on a commuter rail line.
More LEED professionals
Brown says the demands of customers, from state government to big-box retailers, are driving BCRA strongly in the direction of sustainability. Only 5 percent of BCRA’s professionals are LEED-certified, but the firm’s goal is to hike that to 70 percent.
He says he’s excited to help push Puget Sound to the forefront of sustainability in a century when no one can ignore issues like global warming any longer.
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