Rice Fergus Miller
Specialty: Fire and emergency services, senior housing, health care, community facilities, hospitality projects
A management consultant once told Rice Fergus Miller founder Steve Rice there was no way there should be an architecture firm of RFM’s size in Bremerton.
Despite its location on the opposite side of Puget Sound from most of the region’s population and business, RFM has grown to a 25-person firm. It expects its revenues to grow 25 percent this year.
Located in downtown Bremerton since 1987, the firm has helped engineer, and benefited from, the ongoing revitalization of the Bremerton waterfront. But while RFM once did almost all of its work in Kitsap County, it now does three-fourths of its work farther afield.
Senior housing is hot
Rice said senior housing is now the biggest, and fastest growing, part of the firm’s work. RFM is designing the $75 million Timber Ridge at Talus senior housing community in Issaquah.
Rice said the firm has made a big change in its practice with the addition of “visualization labs” that allow clients and the public to see what their built environments will look like earlier in the design process.
“Architects historically have felt very nervous about being too far ahead of the design when showing things,” he said.
Growth west of the Narrows
Rice anticipates rapid growth on the west side of Puget Sound, where housing prices are relatively low and cross-sound connections are about to improve with the opening of an additional Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
“We’re interested in doing a really good job with that growth,” Rice said. “Smartly, sustainably, carefully.”
For now, Bremerton remains off the beaten path for many architects, and the firm has to recruit a bit harder than its big-city competitors across the sound. Nonetheless, RFM is committed to Bremerton.
“This community, since 19 years ago, has been very good to us,” Rice said. “I don’t see us going anywhere else.”
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