Bruce Dees & Associates

Specialty: Park design, athletic facilities, waterfront, environmentally sensitive areas
Management: Bruce Dees, principal
Year founded: 1983
Headquarters: Tacoma
Current projects: Heritage Recreation Center, Puyallup; Thurston County/Lacey Athletic Complex

Security has become a byword for many public agencies, and for firms like Bruce Dees & Associates, it also means new business.

The Tacoma landscape architecture firm has recently designed security improvements for the Port of Tacoma and four Tacoma Police substations.

Principal Bruce Dees said the designs make use of features like bollards, benches, trees and other strategically placed obstacles intended to keep buildings safe from unwelcome incursions.

The trick, Dees said, is in making the security enhancements aesthetically palatable.

Does Dees turn to a security expert when he takes on such projects?


“I’ve done a certain amount of research,” he said. “A lot of it is common sense.”

The Tacoma Police projects are also serving as environmental models.

“Part of that project was to display drought-tolerant plants as educational opportunities for the public,” Dees said.

His firm gets many requests for hardy landscaping because, while many public agencies have generous capital projects budgets, operations and maintenance get the short shrift.

“We pay close attention to how things will function, how long things will last and how easy they are to replace ultimately,” Dees said.

For its parks and athletics projects, which account for the bulk of its work, the firm has been making greater use of synthetic turf, despite its steeper initial costs.

“The look and feel and play on it is like natural turf,” Dees said. “But there is no need to irrigate. Also, there’s no need to fertilize, no nutrient runoff into the stormwater or adjacent wetlands.”

The Washington Recreation and Park Association recently gave the company awards of excellence for its work on Perrigo Community Park in Redmond and Rainier Vista Park in Lacey.

The staff has been holding steady at around eight employees.

“We have never been slow,” Dees said. “It’s a conscious decision to remain this size.”

Though the firm has collaborated other architects such as the Miller|Hull Partnership and BLRB, Dees said he prefers to take the lead.

“We prefer being in the prime role, and that’s generally what we are with the park projects.”

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