Like Father, Like Son: a Tacoma home of collaboration

Architect James Steel teams with his builder dad to create a contemporary aging-in-place home for both parents.

NO PRESSURE, KIDS, but this happy Father’s Day, Bruce Steel has a glorious new hilltop home designed by his architect son. Which makes us rethink this plaid-tie gift bag just a teensy bit.

In all fairness, James Steel designed this home for both of his parents — mom Gloria, too — and, in the ultimate father-son bonding project, in true collaboration with his builder/developer dad.

“I took him a cocktail napkin and said, ‘That’s what I want to do,’ ” Bruce says.

“My dad has a very strong vision of what he wants,” says James, principal of Steel Architects. “I was thinking what he would think.”

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The universal first thought: Bruce and Gloria’s previous home, in Gig Harbor, had turned threatening.

“They had to navigate steep stairs and a bridge over a creek just to get to the front door,” James says. “This (new) house was designed around the idea of aging in place. It’s 2,800 square feet, all on one level, minimizing barriers as they grow older.”

Even better, it’s in Tacoma — and Tacoma is home.

“We wanted to get back here, closer to family,” Gloria says.

And now, the Steels live in a meticulously thought-out, true family home mere blocks from three of their children, including James (the fourth lives in Seattle); less than a mile from Bruce’s childhood home; and half a mile from his office.

“We couldn’t resist the property,” Bruce says. “This location is so perfect.”

And goodness — those views.

Architect James Steel worked with his parents, Bruce and Gloria Steel, to design this 2,800-square-foot Pacific Northwest contemporary home on a hilltop in Tacoma. Because it’s intended to help them age in place, James says, “It’s really important that it’s all on a single level.” The main…

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