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DEA History

DEA History

The DEA Difference
David Evans and Associates, Inc. began as two entrepreneurial individuals staking a claim in the consulting engineering services industry with a simple philosophy: “hire outstanding professionals and give them the freedom and support to do what they do best.”

This is a story of talent and an inspirational philosophy igniting, enabling a two-person firm in Portland, Oregon to grow and diversify into an ENR Top 500 Design Firm with more than 1,000 employees committed to serving private- and public-sector clients across the nation.

For more than 40 years, DEA has adapted and changed while staying true to its values and commitment to client service. We are proud of our past and invite you to read about it as well as visit the recent and award-winning projects featured throughout this website. We think you’ll like what you see.

We are excited about our past and our future. Welcome to DEA.

Who We Are


Overcoming challenges and delivering on commitments.

DEA Over the Years

The Wonder Years

David Evans and Associates, Inc. was founded by David F. Evans, PE, PLS, and David H. Gould on April 1, 1976. Specializing in subdivision design, our firm experienced tremendous growth during the national housing boom. Developers appreciated our firm’s gift for coaxing the maximum number of lots from a parcel of land while retaining existing trees, natural features, and the beauty of the landscape. This creative approach to design increased the value of the lots. Our firm’s sought-after services soon led to new offices in Washington State and the addition of land surveying and landscape architecture to DEA’s service offerings.

Surviving the recession through diversification

The recession of the 1980s challenged DEA’s existence. The collapse of the savings and loan industry ended funding for land developers, and our firm’s project base evaporated. We downsized, and then began to diversify our services as well as acquire and merge with firms that served the public sector. Through the acquisition of Walsh and Associates in Southern California, our firm established its foothold in California and provided services to municipalities, utilities, and telecommunication companies. A merger with Timberland-McCullough, Inc. significantly strengthened our surveying services, and DEA began serving such public-sector clients as the US Army Corps of Engineers. Talented planners, intrigued by our firm’s philosophy, joined and established planning services.

Growth, diversification, and civic participation

DEA surged to the forefront of providing route surveying and design services for fiber optic cable systems across the western United States, including hydrographic surveys of cable landings. Our firm added the disciplines of structural engineering, construction inspection, and natural resources, and expanded geographically into Arizona and Idaho. We also became early adopters of technological advances including Global Positioning System (GPS) surveying equipment, a hydrographic survey vessel, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). In fact, DEA was the second firm in the Northwest—and one of less than 40 firms in the nation at the time—to adopt state-of-the-art GIS.

Celebrating 20 years and answering Hollywood’s call

Through an acquisition, DEA entered the Denver, Colorado market. During the same period, significant structural projects included the design of an 850-ton residential barge within the breakwaters of San Francisco Bay and the rehabilitation of the Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon, the oldest active lift-span bridge in the United States.

This was also an exciting period for our Marine Services Division. DEA hydrographic surveyors were asked to map the Santa Margarita, a 1601 Spanish Galleon wreck in the Northern Mariana Islands. In addition, DEA responded when a hydrographic survey was needed for the Kevin Costner movie “Waterworld,” mapping the movie’s shooting location off Kawaihae Harbor, Hawaii. Next time you watch the film, look for DEA’s name in the credits.

Measuring a mountain

From the islands of Hawaii to the mapping of Zapadni Bay, St. George Island, and the Pribilof Islands in Alaska, the travels of DEA’s survey vessel are a metaphor for the journey of growth, diversification, and client service during the firm’s first 25 years. This period included the design of therapeutic gardens for hospitals as well as landscape and site design services for neighborhoods throughout the western United States. Development often involves mitigation planning, with one notable plan featuring the restoration of 1,117 oak trees in Walnut Creek, California.

In 2000, DEA worked with the Land Surveyors of Washington Association and the US Army Corps of Engineers to definitively measure Mount Rainier in Washington State using GPS equipment. The elevation was determined to be 14,411.05 feet.

Reconstruction after 9/11

As part of a project management oversight contract with the Federal Transit Administration, DEA was asked to oversee $4.5 billion of transit construction addressing the damage that occurred in Lower Manhattan in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Meanwhile, in Oregon, our services enabled Sokol Blosser Winery to become the first winery in the United States to receive LEED certification. The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the winery’s barrel-aging cellar Silver Certification in 2002. In line with our value of community involvement, we also played a lead role in the design and construction of Oregon’s 6.5-mile Fort-to-Sea Trail by donating project management, surveying, and landscape and trail design services. Dedication of the trail was a signature event of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration.

Bridge design and butterfly wings

In 2008, DEA became one of only three architectural/engineering firms recognized by FORTUNE magazine on its list of “The 100 Best Companies to Work For.” During this time, our firm’s transit and railroad practice grew with projects for the San Diego Association of Governments; Port of Vancouver, Washington; TriMet in Portland, Oregon; Denver’s Regional Transit District; and BNSF Railroad.

Our support of traditional and alternative energy suppliers grew through engineering, surveying, and natural resources services—including responding to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)/State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) requirements—to include the Northwest, Rocky Mountain, and Southwest regions. With a new survey vehicle, equipped with technology that captures 3D measurements and data in a single crossing of a project site, we began collecting accurate positioning information in places where GPS signals are weak or non-existent, such as urban canyons and tunnels.

Creativity is a hallmark of our firm. Of note is our design of arch rib lateral bracing for Oregon’s Sauvie Island Bridge. The arch shape was inspired by the wings of the Silverspot butterfly, a species indigenous to Oregon.

Our founder, David Evans, retired from DEA in 2016. Before his retirement, he guided transition of DEA to the next generation of leadership and hence set the course for DEA’s legacy to thrive and to have a prosperous future.

Visit DEA News for the latest updates about our firm. Highlights include two recent mergers, our acquisition of the Blake, a new 82-foot hydrographic survey and scientific vessel based in Gulfport, Mississippi; national awards for project work; and more!