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September 7, 2023

Spokane's grit inspires BCRA to set up shop

  • The design firm was also impressed by the area's strong community connections.


    BCRA, a Tacoma-based design firm, was eager to expand to Spokane in 2019 for the same reasons that the city is drawing people in droves: high quality of life, diverse cultural experiences, affordability, and community connection.

    It's this connection to community that the company — and its locally based team — appreciate most.


    “Spokane and the surrounding area offer several elements that we value as a company. It's a genuine, relationship-oriented city, and that's important to us,” says Nicky Poole-Duris, a Spokane-based senior associate. “Here, you can show up and give your time or resources where it matters. You can see the impact.”

    Images by Aaron Locke Photography [enlarge]
    BCRA has designed several clinics for Indigo in the Puget Sound and Spokane areas. This clinic is in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

    As soon as she arrived, Poole-Duris aimed to build a network of professionals to help make the transition to a new area more enriching. She quickly connected with Executive Women International (EWI) of Spokane, a professional organization focused on connection, career, and community building.

    “The organization has had a profound influence on me. I've been able to look to these members for guidance and support as we continue to build a presence for BCRA in Spokane. EWI gave me a home when I needed it most,” she shares.

    Poole-Duris also serves on the board of the HUB Sports Center in Liberty Lake. The HUB is a 501c3 nonprofit community-based regional sports venue for youth, adults, and seniors. As a working mom with sons in sports, Poole-Duris says the organization's mission to create a positive impact on youth and the community deeply resonated. “As soon as I heard about their mission to create a safe and positive environment for youth to thrive in our community, I instantly knew I needed to be a part of it,” she says.

    Zac Crum, a senior associate within the civil engineering discipline, has rekindled connections to his alma mater, Gonzaga University, where BCRA has been attending career fairs for several years to forge connections with local students.

    Amanda Sellsted is on the Interior Design Advisory Board for Washington State University, where she serves as a professional mentor for WSU interior design students through the School of Design and Construction. “I enjoy giving back to a community that is dedicated to teaching and inspiring local students interested in AEC and design,” Sellsted shares.


    Grit is another factor that drew BCRA to open an office in Spokane.

    With over half of Spokane's downtown area listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, Spokane is a city that celebrates its roots while continuing to evolve — a mindset that aligns with BCRA's philosophy as a company.

    The Spokane office is led by, from left, Zac Crum, Nicky Poole-Duris and Amanda Sellsted.

    The Spokane-based designers operate out of the Washington Cracker Co. building at 304 W. Pacific Ave., part of the East Downtown Historic District. The choice of location was intentional and mirrors the Tacoma headquarters in the Horizon Pacific Center, a historic office building with similar aesthetics and history. Connecting with the city's culture in the heart of downtown was an important goal for the local team.

    Take the Spokane Inland Empire Railroad (SIERR) Building in Spokane's thriving University District. BCRA partnered with the University of Washington to provide experiential graphics and a branded environment in the school's new space within this historic building. The graphics celebrate the spirit of boundlessness embraced by the university — and by the city itself.

    Over time, the city of Spokane has overcome fires, population booms and declines, and reinvention of its economic purpose. This ability to embrace adversity and continue celebrating uniqueness contributed to the decision to move the company eastward.

    “We knew moving into the area would present challenges. Spokane is tight knit. It's gritty and we must be gritty as well. We understand that it's important to build a real foundation in this community. We want people to see that BCRA is serious about setting down our roots in the Inland Northwest,” Doug Oberst, managing executive, shares.


    While BCRA's staff has been forming connections with local organizations, the firm has also been partnering with clients to deliver projects in the health care and retail sectors as well as public and private partnerships. The Spokane-based team is backed by more than 70 employees in Tacoma in the areas of architecture, interior and experiential graphic design, civil engineering, landscape architecture, and land use planning.

    “It's our vision to be true partners in the Inland Northwest and build things that matter — whether that is connections or projects,” says Poole-Duris. “And we're looking to expand our team with like-minded local designers.”

    Oberst adds, “Our business model is centered around relationships. Spokane has become a second hub for us, and we're excited to further serve these communities and our clients out here.”

    Poole-Duris agrees. “And just like Spokane has much to offer, our multiple disciplines allow us to provide a broad and cohesive design experience for our clients. We're eager to form new partnerships with clients from whom we can learn and with whom we can grow.”

    Melissa Frey, communications coordinator, provides marketing and communications support for all of BCRA's markets and locations.

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