Tolbert Design Architects: Firm Profile

  1. How did your firm get its name?  It’s my last name, I design and I’m an architect.  Tolbert Design Architects.
  2. How large is the firm? Me Myself and I
  3. Where are you located? San Jose and Oakland office locations
  4. How did the firm get its start?  The economy tanked 10 years ago, I got laid off and no one was hiring.  One of my clients asked me to continue to work with him and the rest is history.
  5. What is the firm personality? Warm, personable and extremely thoughtful.
  6. What’s the firm’s focus? Because I’m blessed enough to have access to many different project types, I think the focus is simply to do great designs whatever the project type.  Mainly I do commercial (new construction and T.I.), custom homes (new construction, addition and remodels) and educational projects.
  7. How might the focus of your practice change? I was thinking of doing more educational projects
  8. What’s the most unusual project your firm has done? Either a custom tree house or indoor shooting range.
  9. When was the firm established? 2009 but officially 2010
  10. What’s your favorite local building? I like the little flat iron Haley Law Office building at San Pablo, 14th and Clay Street.  I would love to have that little building be TDA’s Oakland Headquarters.
  11. What is the makeup of your firm and do you have other disciplines? The makeup of the firm is heavily architecture designed focused but I do some CM work, landscape design, and as of late been dabbling in development
  12. How is your firm structured? Everything runs through me whether I like it or not.
  13. Do you have any office pets? No
  14. Which method of marketing has been the most successful for the firm? Word of mouth!  I don’t advertise.
  15. How would you describe your firm’s culture?  All the most attractive cultural things condensed into a handsome 6’-2” frame of awesomeness!
  16. What team-building activities happen within your firm? We all work out together and always eat together.
  17. What’s your firm’s favorite lunch spot? Belly Uptown
  18. What type of client has been the best to work with? Residential clients because people’s homes are an intimate part of their lives.
  19. How has the practice changed since the beginning? I started off as just a residential firm and then I got my first civic building.  I kept telling myself “It’s just a big house…all the same design principals [in terms of layout proximities, flow, etc.] apply.”  Once I understood that I’ve designed pretty much everything save an OSHPD project.
  20. What does the future hold for the firm? Hiring and development
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