Dalton Gittens building a business in Tacoma

Dalton Gittens of Gittens Architects – located at 1110 South 11th St. in the Alberta J. Canada Building – is happy to have his business in the Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma, an area of the city he wasn’t too familiar with a relatively short time ago.

It was a few years ago while traveling between Seattle, Wash. and Eugene, Ore., that Gittens said he became aware of the Ruston Way area of Tacoma, which eventually led him to Hilltop.

“I came and started looking around and met some people,” he said. “I discovered Hilltop.”

From there, he did some investing and bought some rental property in the area.

At the beginning of this year he saw the cleanup of the formerly crime-ridden Hilltop area and was impressed by seeing the neighborhood becoming a secure, livable urban area.

“That caught my attention,” Gittens said. “The more I learned, the more I liked the place.”

Gittens Architecture has been open now for about four months, he said – the first business to open in the building. The Alberta J. Canada Building’s official opening was Aug. 31.

Along with project manager Denis Thursby – whom Gittens describes as a “phenomenal help” – Gittens is working hard to build up contacts and establish business.

“I’m quite encouraged,” Gittens said. “So that seems to be happening.”

The path that would lead Gittens into a career as an architect began during his high school years in Montreal, Canada, where he excelled at drafting – drawing sketches, versions and plans.

“I was always the top student at drafting in high school,” he said.

From there, he attended a junior college in Canada, taking interior design courses with the intention of transferring to a four-year American institution, which he did, graduating in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Oregon.

After working in Portland, Ore. and Vancouver, British Columbia, he returned to school, this time earning a master’s degree from the University of Washington in 1983.

Gittens worked in California for four years, before returning to Seattle, and traveling back and forth from there to Eugene, which led to his “discovering” the north side of Tacoma.

As for the actual work done by an architect, Gittens said, “It’s much more complicated than it seems.”

Job responsibilities includes meeting with clients to establish needs, coming up with preliminary concepts, initial drafts and the overseeing of construction.

“We want to give the client what they want,” he said.

Being mindful of the details is very important, Gittens stated.

“Architects know better than most how to draw plans that will work,” he said, noting architects must take into account even the smallest part of a building that the average person probably wouldn’t think of.

“I think it’s a good place. I’m happy with it,” Gittens said of Hilltop, where he now lives.

“I can see it growing,” he added. “I feel quite happy about it.”