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Firm Profile: Ruffin Architecture & Interiors

firmIn 1986 I was working for an large firm in the Midwest. They offered me a chance to start a satellite office in California but then decided against it. So I came back to California and started a firm with partner Burt Ewart. Burt and I had worked for several years with Ted Brown in San Francisco. We set up shop in Emeryville and provided architectural and interior design services throughout the Bay Area with a focus on San Francisco.

Over the years, we have reinvented the firm as the economy grew or shrank. Initially we did a great deal of space planning and small type V commercial construction. Because of the recession in the early 90’s, Burt moved on and we saw very little space planning.

Concerned by the shrinking work opportunities, I started a sister company Estate Builders, and started doing design-build work. We started doing more residential remodeling with some larger commercial work.

firm2Eventually I could not balance the management of both the architectural office and the construction company. The mad construction boom of the late nineties made it very difficult to keep good construction personnel. I closed the construction firm and focused on architecture primarily in the East Bay.

Like most firms we have tried a number of different types of projects from governmental to developer and end user. A high percentage of our developer
clients closed shop during the recent recession and we moved away from multifamily work. Currently we are seeing a great deal of residential remodeling in the tri-valleys and more commercial opportunities around the Bay.

firm3Our philosophy has always been that regardless of the size of the work, all projects deserve good design and should be buildable. Sounds simple, but from my early experiences working for other firms, a number of projects did not have strong design goals or the drawings were simply inadequate to build the design concept from. Now we try to stay fresh and attempt new solutions to old problems. We’ve been using Archicad since 2001 and have found the modeling properties very helpful. We have started using Radio Frequency Vacuum Dried timber for our heavy timber designs and been very happy with the results.

We’re excited to see so much good design being built throughout the Bay Area and look forward to continuing to contribute to a better built environment.

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