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Firm Profile: AJS Architecture/Planning

AJS Architecture/Planning was founded in 2009 by Tony Sarboraria, AIA. From their office in Livermore, they provide services throughout the Bay Area and beyond. While occasionally working on small commercial projects, site master plans or feasibility studies, their primary focus is residential design. Recent work has been a balanced mix of custom homes, additions and remodels, and small infill developments, typically of three to six units.8.0

Mr. Sarboraria, a Livermore native, developed a strong interest in building design as a young child and decided to become an architect at age seven! That interest only grew over time, leading him to the architecture program at Cal Berkeley, where he earned his degree in the 1990s. The majority of his early career was at Dahlin Group, where he honed technical, aesthetic and management skills working with a talented group of professionals.

Every project presents its challenges and opportunities. AJS Architecture/Planning has built a reputation for finding good opportunities even with difficult infill sites and today’s ever more complex zoning and building regulations. For example, few jurisdictions have regulations more complex than Palo Alto, where the firm recently completed a successful four-unit townhouse project on a narrow and deep site with stepping and sloping setback lines which varied throughout. Through the design process, they transformed the odd asymmetrical massing into an interesting three-story plan with contemporary shed roof forms.8.1

Many homeowners turn to the firm for additions, remodels and full custom homes. An early example is the transformation of a plain 1940s cottage in the historic part of Livermore to a modern yet classically proportioned bungalow. Challenges included the narrow lot, context of small-scale homes and the desire to not encroach into the rear yard. Significant additional living space was added on a new second floor while still keeping in-proportion with the predominantly single-story neighborhood by tucking much of it into a tall attic area. That project led to another, a custom home (technically a remodel, but all that remains is part of the foundation), on a large site near the wine country. The clients described what they wanted as “a contemporary barn.” It took a few tries for architect and client to figure out what that really meant. Many additional parameters, including the need for extensive sun shading and a large southfacing roof for solar panels, helped focus the array of options.

8.2Every challenge has its best solution – depending on the site, context, client, regulations and budget. AJS Architecture/Planning is therefore just as likely to produce carefully proportioned and detailed traditional designs as t h e y a r e unique contemporary creations. The current firm structure – sole proprietor with a contract drafter and other consultants – is in need of expansion. They are beginning to explore what form that may take.

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