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Knapp Architects: Firm Profile

Knapp Architects focuses on protecting and enhancing the value of historic resources—improving the “built environment” by protecting the best of what is already built. The value of historic places is based on the contemporary social view of history and the buildings and places created over time. We work to help other design professionals, owners and users of buildings, and outside stakeholders and regulatory agencies to articulate the significance of existing buildings, weigh realistically the treatment options for them, and complete successful construction projects which will stand the test of time.

Our role is to clarify the status and intrinsic qualities of a building or place; discern how a project would affect it; communicate options and their implications clearly to all participants in the design process; and produce documents which foster a constructive decision-making process and successful construction. On most projects, our role is not to tell others what to do with a building (except through construction drawings and specifications), but rather to explain how the community sees the building or where it ranks under objective historical standards, and to explain the ramifications of treatment options. We bring creativity and insight to the search for options for preserving historic buildings while maximizing their programmatic performance.

In the world of historic preservation, where some professionals deal only in a single specialty, we are generalists. Our scope of experience and skills ranges from architectural services, including conditions assessments, construction drawings and specifications, and construction-phase services; to research and documentation, including National Register nominations and Historic American Building Survey (HABS) documentation; environmental review and regulatory work, including federal 20% historic tax credits and compliance with CEQA, local preservation ordinances, and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act; to assessments and studies, including Historic Structure Reports and feasibility studies. Our projects range from repairing one component of a small building to overall rehabilitation of a large building. We work both as prime and as a consultant.

Our staff is comprised of licensed architects with more than 40 years’ combined experience in historic preservation; additionally, our firm has longstanding relationships with specialty professionals in sub-disciplines of architecture and preservation as well as professionals in other disciplines, such as structural engineering and landscape architecture, who have deep experience with historic properties.

Recent projects include California Memorial Stadium and Blum Hall/Naval Architecture Building at UC Berkeley, the Kelly Cullen Community (former Central YMCA) in San Francisco, the Hay Barn at UC Santa Cruz, and 50 United Nations Plaza and the Bayview Opera House in San Francisco. Current projects include two each at Stanford and Berkeley, two hotels in San Francisco, historic rental housing at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Presidio Theatre, and several projects at Mare Island.

Property and building owners we have worked for include UC Berkeley, Stanford University, UC Santa Cruz, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, the East Bay Regional Park District, the National Park Service, Lennar Mare Island, BRIDGE Housing, the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, JMA Ventures, and Embarcadero Capital Partners.

We have worked as consultants on teams led by Mark Cavagnero Associates,  Fernau + Hartman, Gelfand Partners Architects, Gensler, HNTB, Hornberger + Worstell, Noll & Tam, Olson Kundig Architects, PGAdesign, PlaceWorks, Ratcliff Architects, and Van Meter Williams Pollack.

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