Jim Gibbon was raised in a Marine Corps family that lived for 20 years in different economic and social environments throughout the United States, Hawaii and Caribbean. The family moved from base to base about every two years. They lived in Quonset huts and military housing most of the time. The family finally settled in Arlington, Virginia.
The Gibbon family lived in the southern US during segregation and in Hawaii before it became a state. Both experiences had an effect on Jim’s perception about life and design. At sixteen, he saw a Life Magazine article about the life and death of Architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It impressed him that Wright had worked as an Architect until he died at 89. At that moment Jim knew he wanted to become an architect and do the same.
Jim graduated from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington in 1961. During his high school years, he studied art, mechanical and architectural drawing. When he graduated, at his father’s insistence and following his other brothers, he joined the Navy to serve his country. He completed a four-year tour, two of which were on a Destroyer in Vietnam during the war.
When he returned home, Jim immediately started junior college in Virginia concentrating on an Architectural Technology major. He worked for architects in Georgetown while in college and graduated in 1969 with an AA degree. In 1970 he traveled across country to attend college in California. He settled in the the Bay Area and entered UC Berkeley in 1972. He continued to work for local architects in Fremont and Hayward during the time he attended school and Jim graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture in 1974. While other students attended their graduation ceremony, Jim was on the fourth floor of Wurster Hall taking the first part of his licensing exams.
In 1978, Jim received his state architectural license. On that same day, he quit his job at an architectural office in Walnut Creek and started his own firm with a partner. In 1982, Jim decided to go out on his own as James P. Gibbon Architect and Planner. Under his direction, his firm specialized in residential and commercial architecture for eighteen years. Jim developed designs for single, multi-family and condominium housing for large and small development companies in the Bay Area until 1996.
In 1996, Jim joined Safeway, Inc. He moved his architectural practice into his home and went to work designing grocery stores. Over the next eighteen years, he developed or contributed to Safeway’s standardized construction documentation process, ADA Compliance program, green building, alternative energy and environmental sustainability programs. Jim developed criteria and standards for these programs and acted as the corporate resource for their building partners and designers. In 2013, he retired from Safeway and resumed his private practice.
In his 50 years of architectural experience, Jim has designed over a thousand projects, ranging from massive residential subdivisions to bay windows and has designed over five hundred custom homes in the Bay region. He is now semi-retired, designing custom homes and additions for a new generation of home owners. He is politically active in saving our environment through his activities in the San Francisco Bay Area Sierra Club where he is an Ex-Com member of the Mount Diablo Group.