As BergerABAM Vice President Helen Devery reflects on her soon-to-be 25 years with the architectural, engineering and environmental consulting firm, she said she believes having a local and engaged staff has helped BergerABAM both secure landmark projects around Southwest Washington and effectively execute them.
“Our staff is very involved in the community,” Devery said. “We have people who live, work and volunteer here, and that helps us understand what the community needs.”
Based in Federal Way, Wash., BergerABAM started in 1951 and has nine offices across Washington, Oregon, California, Texas and Nevada. The company worked out of downtown Vancouver for more than 20 years and moved to the renovated City Hall building just more than two years ago. Devery credits the new, open floor plan as allowing more collaboration between departments.
“We had our best year ever last year,” Devery said. “The economy picked up and that has allowed us to fire on all cylinders.”
BergerABAM has 250 employees worldwide, with 37 in the Vancouver office. Though they are seeking to hire more engineers, the local office now houses the company’s full spectrum of services. The firm specializes in civil and structural engineering, landscape architecture, environmental assessment, natural resources management, and land-use planning.
“We’re really happy to be here in Southwest Washington,” Devery said. “It’s a great community to be a part of and we continue to do important public infrastructure work throughout the state.”
BergerABAM has worked with the cities of Vancouver, Camas, Ridgefield and Washougal to restore waterfronts, manage environmental analysis, conduct city planning and more. Other projects include engineering runways for Boeing, various navy contracts, and national and international ports – including the expansion of the Panama Canal. Locally, BergerABAM is the lead technical landscape architect for a new seven-acre Vancouver waterfront trail and pier.
“What holds the pier up is all our engineering,” Devery said.
Devery is particularly proud of her firm’s outdoor trail work. BergerABAM has contributed to improving the trails of Camas and Washougal waterfronts, Evergreen Highway and the Port of Vancouver.
Several local employees serve on the Clark County Community Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Council, and Devery credits this for their innovative ideas on connecting the community through cycling and walking trails. She said BergerABAM makes an effort to give staff time to be involved in local organizations like these, local library boards and more; this allows the company to keep a finger on the area’s pulse and contribute where it can.
“A huge challenge for our community is obviously the I-5 Bridge,” Devery said in looking ahead. “Our firm does bridge design and would love to be involved in that project.”
She is hopeful that transportation funding will open up soon for fixing the heavy congestion that commuters and travelers face along the I-5 corridor’s connection of Washington and Oregon.
Currently, BergerABAM is working with Washougal on a transportation and downtown plan, and with the Clark Regional Waste Water District on a pump station sewer line. The firm will also spearhead more work along the Vancouver Waterfront, which has a completion date targeted for 2018.
“We just finished getting all of the approvals from the city for the Port of Vancouver’s Terminal One,” Devery said. “For us, that master plan project will be another landmark project for the community on the waterfront.”