Our office offers a stimulating professional, but casual environment; a highly diverse portfolio of assignments provides excitement and opportunities for well-rounded professional development and growth to our staff.
Bruce McKean, AIA Bruce McKean is Helix Design Group's founding Principal. He started Helix in a small back office with the simple idea that great design and solid relationships would create a formula for success. Bruce began his career in 1985; he enjoys the ability to create memorable elements for our environment where the results come out better than what was expected. He studies architect’s past and present work to draw inspiration and uses that research to create something new and specifically structured toward the client or project.
Bruce believes Helix contains a great team of people, where everyone works hard together to achieve combined results without the presence of individual egos. He sees the wide variety of project types ranging from small retail to significant public transportation projects as something that keeps the environment active and stimulating.
On the weekends Bruce is often found on a racetrack, he is heavily involved in vintage auto racing and performance kart racing. He also enjoys boating on the Puget Sound to appreciate the relaxing environment and views of the landscape from a unique perspective.
> Q&A with Bruce: Automotive Dealership Renovation
Lowell Cate, AIA Lowell Cate is a Principal with Helix Design Group; his career in architecture began in 1987. One of his favorite things about being an architect is the ever evolving work, including the need to address new building technologies, building codes and ordinances, and constantly evolving materials and construction methods. He enjoys the challenge of weaving technical concerns into the building fabric in a visually pleasing fashion. For Lowell, this is an environment that is always stimulating and barely classifiable as work.
Lowell believes Helix is a great place to be because of the people, both the team and the clients. The people at Helix all come from very different backgrounds, are fun to be around, yet work together cohesively. Likewise, he enjoys how the clients are drawn from a wide variety of market segments and generate a broad range of project types.
As a history minor in college his interest continues with the goal of understanding American history from the founding onward. He believes current events, whether from issues in architecture or politics, can be better understood when viewed through the long lens of a historical perspective. He enjoys family time with summers spent on a lake doing some water skiing and wake-boarding. In the fall or winter you will find him at Autzen Stadium cheering on the Oregon Ducks football team.
Erik Prestegaard As one of Helix Design Group's Principals and with more than 40 years of professional practice, Erik Prestegaard has participated in a wide variety of projects, including industrial, commercial, institutional, and educational facilities. As a graduate engineer, his early work was spent designing guideways for advanced transit systems; construction facilities for major offshore projects; and other assignments of a unique technical nature. For the past several years, Erik’s interests and efforts have focused on marketing, business development, contract and fee negotiations, as well as consultant team formation and structuring.
His favorite thing about working in the design field is being associated with groups of individuals that with skill and imagination create designs that respect the natural environment; enhance the built environment; and have lasting positive impact on human quality of life. Erik enjoys the daily interaction with a great group of incredibly talented and creative professionals at Helix.
Erik spends his free time golfing, shooting, traveling and some skiing. He is active in the Society of American Military Engineers, where he was twice president of the Mt. Tahoma Post, and was inducted into the society’s “Academy of Fellows” in 2010. As a member of the Advisory Committee he was instrumental in establishing and managing the highly successful Valle Scandinavian Exchange Program with the University of Washington. He was also a member of the part-time faculty at Pacific Lutheran University's School of Business for many years.
Cindy McKean, LEED AP With experience as an Interior Designer since 1997, Cindy says the best part of her job is finding satisfaction in providing creative design solutions through thoughtful planning and problem solving. She thinks the people she works with at Helix all work together so well because they love what they do and have fun doing it!
In her spare time Cindy enjoys cooking, entertaining, boating, jamming on her ukulele, and home-brewing beer. She is an active volunteer with the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team, Pocock Rowing Center in Seattle and the Gig Harbor Paddle Cup.
> Q&A with Cindy: The Importance of Programming in Interior Design
Nancy is Helix Design Group’s Accounting Manager and has been with the firm since 1997. She enjoys the friendships she has made amongst her coworkers and values the variety of creative personalities.
Nancy and her husband enjoy their business which involves Motor racing, restoring of high end show cars and traveling all over the world. When she is not traveling, she appreciates quiet time in her garden and entertaining friends on the deck during warm summer evenings.
Travis Ness, LEED AP Travis will tell you his favorite part about working as an Architect is the always changing scope of work. He enjoys the opportunity to apply unique and creative approaches on all phases of a project from initial design to construction administration. Travis joined the Helix team in 1999 and appreciates the style of teamwork as it applies to every job no matter how big or small.
Travis was in the United States Air Force for eight years as a B-52 mechanic. He loves to camp and hike and also collects movie art posters.
Lee Davenport, R.A., LEED AP
Lee specializes in Federal projects and has practiced architecture since 1984. Lee began at Helix in 1999, he believes it is a hands-on workplace which allows him to get involved in all aspects of a project with a family of co-workers who are always willing to support each other in delivering successful work.
Jeff Blachowski, R.A., LEED AP Jeff's experience in architecture and construction spans back to 1991; he began at Helix in 2000. In addition to his technical knowledge and creative design solutions he heads up the design and specifications standards for the office. He will tell you that his favorite part about Helix is the people he works with.
Jeff loves to explore the outdoors and on the weekends he is frequently out hiking, mountain biking, salmon and steelhead fishing, hunting or floating Northwest rivers in his Willey’s drift boat. He also enjoys traveling as well as cheering on the WSU football team, Go Cougs!
Diane Barringer Diane began as an Interior Designer at Helix in the spring of 2000. Her favorite part of the design process is when the project comes to life. She enjoys the reward of sharing with her clients the experience of achieving the vision they created together.
Diane enjoys the outdoors and camping around the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children. She is a fan of the Seahawks, Mariners and Tacoma Rainiers and attends the games when she can. English is not her first language; her family lineage is from the Czech Republic. If you’re ever in the mood to go Karaoke, Diane will be there to join you!
> Q&A With Diane: Interior Design
Will Schick, LEED AP Will has been in the architectural industry since 1996 and enjoys the involvement in creating something new as well as making old buildings new again. He started at Helix in 2001 and enjoys the wide range of projects. In addition to his design skills, Will leads our IT department and supports Helix in all things tech or software related.
Will was in the United States Air Force and retired after 22 years of service. He stays very busy with his 5 children… all of which are girls!
Rita Lomas In 2003 Rita joined the team to initiate the graphics department. Her main focus is environmental graphic design which communicates identity and experiences within the built environment. She enjoys the learning opportunities of working closely with architects and designers throughout all project phases from research, concept development through construction. She also appreciates the camaraderie and team spirit in the office where everyone fully supports one another to ensure successful projects.
Rita retreats to the mountains to unplug as often as possible. She also enjoys cooking, reading, live music and exploring the world collecting oddities with her husband and teenage son.
> Q&A with Rita: Creating a Successful Wayfinding Plan
Jeff Ryan R.A., LEED AP BD+CJeff’s favorite part about being an architect is the ability to create new environments that positively impact the community in an enduring way. He began his career in architecture in 1986; his expertise lays in restoring historic buildings to their original appearance while infusing new life and future potential for the structure.
Born and raised in the South Sound, Jeff continues to call Tacoma home with his wife and son where he enjoys restoring historic homes and gardens. He also spends time volunteering with organizations like the North End Neighborhood Council, Landmarks and Arts Commissions, Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and the Boy Scouts of America.
> Q&A with Jeff: Restoration & Renovation
> 2018 Alan C. Liddle Award Recipient
Eli Alampay Eli began at Helix in 2007. In addition to his architectural skills, he is our 3D rendering specialist. Being in the design field since 1990 he sees every project as a learning experience. His favorite part about Helix is the staff, how everyone is incredibly experienced and skilled in their specialties yet are surprisingly helpful and accommodating.
Eli collects board games; he has a lot of out-of print games and is proud to be the owner of the 1999 version of Acquire. He relaxes by watching TV, his favorite shows are "Firefly" and "Breaking Bad."
Malou has been in the design field since 1999 with a degree in architecture with a focus on urban and regional planning. She began her career at Helix in 2012 and assists with accounting and project work. She loves the challenge of balancing numbers while continuing to learn about the field of architecture. She enjoys working as a team to help clients’ projects become a reality.
Matt Ebersole Matt has been in the architectural design field since 1998. He appreciates the variety and challenges that come with each project. He likes to problem solve while using his creativity and attention to detail to make each day fun. He says it is exciting to see his solutions become tangible results. Matt joined the Helix team in 2012. He enjoys the positive environment, the people and the variety of projects.
Matt spends a lot time outdoors, he loves floating down a river and fly fishing with friends and family. He also enjoys watching and playing sports. He especially likes soccer and being the coach of his daughter's team.
Jessica Cody, NCIDQ
Jessica is one of the team’s Interior Designers, where her favorite efforts involve seeing creative ideas come to life and developing spaces that shape experiences for the end users. She also enjoys learning new things as the industry evolves while continuing to gain understanding of the importance of design and its impact to both our well-being and the natural environment.
Eun Backstrom, AIA, LEED AP
As a Project Architect, Eun enjoys working with clients and consultants to create spaces that improve lives and enhance the human experience. She began her design career in 2003 and she often finds inspiration while traveling by sketching up unique or significant items that she finds along the way.
Eun is interested in cooking and appreciates different traditional foods from various cultures. She spends a lot of time outdoors with her family and enjoys gardening, camping, bike-riding and hiking. She also volunteers as a children’s bible study teacher at her local church.
Dion has been a part of the architectural design field since 2002. He enjoys the ability to create an idea on paper and then, through the design process, witness that idea become a thoroughly constructed project.Dion is a huge fan of cars, more specifically the Pontiac GTO - throughout all eras. He also loves sports: football, basketball and baseball and his favorite teams are the Seahawks, Golden State Warriors, ‘Sonics and Cardinals.
Terri loves working with people, and as a part of our administrative team she brings years of experience from within the design and construction industry.
Terri loves the outdoors, but she most enjoys spending time with her children, grandchildren, and her Pomeranian “fur-baby,” Barkley. She is a hockey fan, which began while watching her son play locally; her favorite team is the Blackhawks.
As a member of our administrative team, Cassandra enjoys working with people and being in a creative environment where she can see and hear the creative process flow.
Cassandra loves to cook, and she especially enjoys the experience of teaching her son and daughter. She also enjoys watching sports, including baseball, because it reminds her of listening to the games on the radio with her grandfather when she was a kid.
Tracy is our permitting specialist and has been working in the A/E and Development field since 1994. While she openly admits to having minimal artistic talent, she is a lover of the arts including all things design, architecture, music and literature.
Tracy is active in the community as Chairperson of the Pierce County Developmental Disabilities Advisory Board. She also enjoys gardening and pickling in her spare time.