Sidell Pakravan: Firm Profile


Guggenheim Helsinki (competition entry). Image by Sidel Pakravan

Sidell Pakravan is a contemporary practice that is committed to making compelling and beautiful architecture. To do this, we leverage architecture’s primary language- form-in response to a critical exploration of context. We work at a variety of scales and formats – from writing about urbanism to designing buildings. Each project is a collaborative process that results in a clear formal idea.

Our process always begins with an inquisitive approach to context. We believe that every context is uniquely defined not only by physical conditions but also by cultural awareness and social engagement. All design begins with research. We investigate a set of conditions and then clearly define the questions with formal explorations. This becomes our project-specific context that engenders a set of questions or queries. With this approach, we avoid applying a ‘one size fits all’ methodology. Instead, we work closely with our clients to solve each project’s specific questions and conditions. We develop unique solutions that reflect our critical awareness of local conditions – such as urban infill density and rural openness or local materials and tectonics.


Henrybuilt Showroom, Mill Valley: Photo by Henrybuilt

Our engagement with this process allows us to both exploit and blur distinctions between architecture and its context. This may be a physical relationship between built form and landscape or a cultural relationship between site and the city. The results are bold yet simple sculptural volumes that meet our client’s needs while reflecting an awareness of the specific time and context.

Our process translates well across sites and across typologies. Recently completed projects, such as the Henrybuilt showroom in Mill Valley and Buena Vista garden in Oakland, reflect the applicability across media. In current projects, such as mutli-family developments in Southern California and residential remodels in the Bay Area, the process adapts to widely different scales and sites.


Buena Vista Garden, Oakland: Photo by Nico Oved

While an inquisitive and context-aware process defines how we work, an enthusiasm for tangible results characterizes the work we seek. In projects such as WIC+ (a food access and justice project), we created a design, worked with local leaders to develop a business plan, and then worked as fabricators. Similarly, in residential remodels, we develop long term working relationships that allow us to get the best possible realization of our design. While we relish the creativity of the initial design process, we thrive on the collaboration of the execution.

Kristen Sidell and Rudabeh Pakravan, the principals at Sidell Pakravan, are both licensed architects and t ogether we have over twenty-five years of experience in residential, commercial, and civic buildings in Europe and North America. We discovered our affinity for contemporary design and an interactive creative process while studying architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. We are committed to exploring how architectural concepts take root in contemporary contexts. We engage these questions in their practice and through teaching architecture at the California College of the Arts and the University of California, Berkeley.

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