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Posts tagged ‘Firm Profile’

Firm Profile: Shelterwerk

“Shelter”: a position or the state of being covered and protected.

“Werk”: (derived from Old High German) a piece of art, an achievement, the result of one’s labors.

Established in 2009, Shelterwerk is a creative collaboration headed by architect Heather Sanders, AIA and interior designer, Lisa Wai, IIDA. Lisa grew up and received her degree in the Midwest, while Heather, a California native, completed the bulk of her education in Oregon. Both relocated to the San Francisco Bay area, and became colleagues and friends while working in other firms, eventually opening Shelterwerk in Oakland several years later.

“Our services include integrated architectural and interior design services for both commercial and residential projects. Programming, space planning, tenant improvements, and selection/acquisition of furnishings describe some of our offerings to commercial organization. On the residential front, we take on anything from bathroom and kitchen remodels, additions, conversions of existing spaces to secondary units, as well as ground-up construction. We are also a resource for entitlements and permit expediting services. We work throughout the Bay Area and beyond: past and current projects cover Monterey, the South Bay and Peninsula, San Francisco, North and East Bay as well as the Sierra Foothills and Tahoe area.

We are down-to-earth, approachable advocates for the people we work with, attempting to create spaces that are a reflection of who they are, and not who we are. We see our role as educators, empowering our clients with a knowledge that allows them to make informed decisions about their projects that are appropriate for their budgets and objectives. We don’t limit ourselves to doing business with humans, and have been known to occasionally take on canine and feline clientele.

Shelterwerk strives to achieve a level of social responsibility in their practice, working with groups like Satellite Affordable Housing Association, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development, Pivot Learning, and Project Commotion among others in the housing, education, and health realms. For these clients, we offer our design services at a discounted rate, or occasionally pro bono, dependingon the level of need and the magnitude of their challenges in their respective communities. We are also registered on, subscribing to the belief that the benefits of good design should be within reach for all.

Shelterwerk likes to see itself somewhere in the middle of whimsical experimentation and exacting precision in their approach and craft. We believe our product reflects a thoroughness and care, and while we understand that that requires a lot of hard work and intelligence, laughter and a lightheartedness should be part of the equation. The very definition of our name requires that we embrace the poignant and the banal of any structure or space, and that we make something beautiful, memorable, and meaningful out of it.”

Firm Profile: Hilliard Architects

Traumatic Brain Injury Center, Martinez VA

Hilliard Architects is a multi-focus architecture firm with a building science background who believes that great projects are built on great relationships. Our expertise, technical background and exceptional client relationships make us a great choice – and a pleasure to work with.

Based in downtown Oakland, Hilliard Architects is always looking for creative solutions. From bringing in a drone to inspect a deteriorating exterior, designing a brain trauma center to feel more like a modern gym, and stopping waterproofing nightmares – we enjoy thinking outside the box. We foster our client relationships because we believe that good communication and working together will always yield better and more innovative solutions.

Hilliard Architects supports a unique skill-set through building science: coordinating the disciplines of architecture, engineering and construction technology. We are investigative problem solvers and we’re hands-on. Our continuous learning of building codes, materials, components, systems, structures and sustainability helps optimize building performance.

Working with Revit as our BIM tool, we’re able to collaborate with all project team members to help keep projects running smoothly and avoid costly mistakes.

If accessibility is a concern, our lead architect Mike Hilliard, AIA is CASp certified (California Certified Access Specialist), making him an expert in the latest CA OSHPD requirements.

If you’re looking for a team that produces great work through a hands-on, win-win working relationship, consider Hilliard Architects.

Photos: Hilliard Architects

Traumatic Brain Center, Martinez, VA

Library, Lycée Français de San Francisco

Firm Profile: Catamount Design

In a world that demands increasing specialization, architecture called out to Alex Korn, AIA as a field where the ability to understand systems and peoples’ needs was required. Architecture requires understanding the whole and creating a built solution to meet a clients needs, using design to integrate a solution. Alex Korn founded Catamount Design as a one-person firm in Berkeley in 1999. This was after working as an architect in Seattle for the previous decade and graduating from the University Oregon in 1989. He came to architecture after undergraduate degrees in Fine Arts and English Literature. He writes:

Over the years we have had to the opportunity to work on a variety of new structures as well as additions and remodels from cabins and camp buildings in Vermont to a straw-bale home in Mendocino, from a nightclub in Oakland to an extension of a 1940s Harwell Hamilton Harris home in the Berkeley Hills. What defines our practice most is the variety of our clients and their needs. I think this reflects in part the diversity of the Bay Area as well as our goal of understanding the needs and tastes of our clients. Good design is about much more than style and we strive to bring it to each of our projects. Most of our work is in Northern California but we have projects across the country.

Our practice has changed and evolved over the years with a mix of residential construction, commercial TIs and small commercial design. Right before the Great Recession we were growing rapidly with mixed- use commercial developments and a number of condominium projects and multiple residential projects on the boards. The commercial projects went the way of the economy leaving us only the residential. Luckily in 2009, we had the opportunity to acquire a building in Berkeley through a commercial client which we developed into a nine unit office building. It now houses our office and a eclectic group of tenants. With the return of the economy we are growing again with multiple residential and commercial projects on the boards and in construction. In 2016 we were awarded accommodation for the rebuild of the 1924 Barret house in Berkeley the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA).

For us, architecture is a field where our specialization is to be a “generalist” in the best sense – to understand a wide variety of topics and interests and to bring all those into a coherent project. Space and how we inhabit it effects all those who pass through it. The world today is about specialization, which affects architecture. However, it remains a profession where ideas, design and people can be brought together rather than divide.

Firm Profile: Taecker Planning and Design

firm4Taecker Planning and Design is a small innovative firm focused on revitalizing urban centers and corridors through pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented growth. Planned right, urban centers and corridors create more sustainable cities and regions – where resources are used efficiently and personal car use is just one way to get there. Designed right, urban centers and corridors create great places to live, work, and play – where people are able to meet most of their needs easily on foot or by transit.

Urban centers and corridors can leverage numerous benefits, but they also present great challenges at many levels. Matt Taecker (AIA, AICP) launched his firm to address such challenges with a combination of urban design, policy making and stakeholder engagement. The firm integrates a continuum of services, from concept-level visioning and schematics, to project entitlements and implementation strategies.firm3

Mixed Use Centers. Taecker developed Berkeley’s award-winning Downtown Area Plan, Downtown Street Improvement Plan, and is developing a circulation and urban design element for Fairfax California’s Town Center Plan. Taecker’s master plans also include mixed-use new-urban centers in suburban locations.

Livable Transit Corridors. Taecker coauthored seminal research on what makes corridors more livable, including methods, tools and strategies for getting there. Published by the Transportation Research Board, ”Livable Transit Corridors: Methods, Metrics and Strategies,” encourage complete and integrated corridors with a full complement of livability opportunities.

firm1Catalyst Projects. Taecker obtained entitlements for Downtown Berkeley’s new high-rise hotel. The project effectively navigated through Berkeley’s design review, regulatory, community and political process. Catalyst projects also include the innovative design of streets and public open spaces, such as BAMPFA’s shared street on Addison, which proposes a large mixed-mode plaza facing BAMPFA’s outdoor media screen.

Matt Taecker enjoys the freedom that comes with having a small firm. He is involved in several organizations on a variety of issues. He leads AIAEB’s “Regional and Urban Design” forum and serves on its board. He chairs California Planning Roundtable’s project: “Overcoming Obstacles to Infill.” He is working with Downtown Berkeley Association and Bike East Bay to create a continuous multi-use Shattuck-Adeline Greenway through Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville, and linking directly to the Bay Bridge. He is also engaged in masterplanning the Northbrae Community Church campus, so it can serve the community more effectively. Taecker’s office is in downtown Berkeley, where he enjoys village-like connections with colleagues from his days working for the City of Berkeley and with Calthorpe Associates. Matt commutes by bicycle from his home in North Berkeley – a pleasant 10-minute ride. firm2

Firm Profile: The KPA Group

firm12017 marks The KPA Group’s 30 year celebration of providing structural engineering and architectural services to the East Bay and beyond. US and international project variety include federal, state and local governments, high profile public buildings, airport terminals, aviation planning, public and private universities, schools, vehicle, maintenance and emerging facilities, fire stations, food plants, health care, roads, planning and peer review. Senior licensed professionals each have more than 25 years of experience with a wide range of expertise in a variety of project types. This experience allows for an excellent track record in project design, project budgeting and project cost estimating.

The KPA Group is a strong reliable partner for new projects, modernizations, retrofits and expansions. Current projects under construction include The East County Hall of Justice in Dublin, Research & Development Center for the Veterans Administration located on Historic Moffett Federal Airfield in Sunnyvale and the Bert Mooney Airport Terminal in Butte, MT.

firm3KPA has been consistently recognized for creative solutions, cost effective designs and timely responses. In 2014 KPA received the International Partnering Institute’s Ruby Award for Partnering and design efforts on the SFO International Airport Boarding Area E Terminal 3 Project as architect and structural engineer.

Firm Profile: LDA Architects, Inc.

fp LDA Architects is a professional corporation providing comprehensive services in planning, architecture, and interior design. LDA is the continuation of a practice established in 1951, and today offers a full scope of design services from an experienced group of dedicated professionals. The firm is a minority-owned company registered with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

Over the years, the firm’s practice has developed with the notion that the best buildings result from a fully interactive collaboration with enlightened clients and highly-skilled builders. To this end, the office is structured to allow principal involvement on every project in order to establish ongoing communications with the client; to listen for and respond to user needs and client desires is primary. The company’s fully computerized office organization is built around providing management that is responsive to clients’ budgets and schedules.fp3

LDA Architects first concentrated its early work on single-family and multi-family housing throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. By the 1960s, the practice expanded to include banks, postal and educational facilities, HUD-funded housing complexes, low-rise and high-rise office buildings, and conversion of existing buildings to new uses. During the past decade, the practice has included civic works such as government offices, museums, parks, bridges and meeting facilities.

Since its earliest projects, LDA has produced designs that are inherently sustainable. Each project receives care and attention to solutions that are respectful of the earth’s resources. Each finds comfort and beauty in the qualities of a design that takes full advantage of the project site and its micro-climate.

fp2LDA Architects also provides a variety of services that enhance and extend our architecture. We can provide architectural programming, site & building selection assistance, master planning, facilities surveys, space planning, tenant improvements, interior design, selection & acquisition of furnishings & equipment, move coordination, graphic design, or artwork commissioning and acquisition.

Jensen/Ptaszynski: Architects at the Sea Ranch

pp Jensen/Ptaszynski Architects have designed over a dozen houses at the Sea Ranch. Both Harley Jensen, AIA and Andre Ptaszynski, AIA studied under Charles Moore, one of the “fathers” of Sea Ranch architecture, so this work has been exceptionally rewarding, bringing us back to our architectural roots. As a design partner and now sole proprietor, Andre Ptaszynski has been the primary designer of all these houses.

The character of the houses at the Sea Ranch comes from the philosophy of its creators back in 1966. The original concept required that the houses be inspired by agricultural architecture, should harmonize with the natural environment and should encourage “living lightly on the land.” This is formalized in design regulations which are enforced by the Design Review Committee.


Lunsford Residence


Lunsford Residence

The committee can make very specific demands of designers and because this is a private development, their decisions cannot be appealed.

The oceanfront exposure of our houses has a major influence on their form. The powerful ocean winds demand that any outdoor living space be well-sheltered. Similarly the spectacular ocean views, which often face directly into the wind, orient the interiors. In some locations, the houses are adjacent to cypress windbreaks and the living spaces must be raised to the second floor to capture a horizon view.

Although the Sea Ranch was conceived as the first ecological housing development, many unintended consequences have developed over the years. The science of “green building” has evolved since the 1960s, so what was green then may not be today. While small houses have always been encouraged, the cost of property has risen as the Sea Ranch gained popularity and undeveloped lots became fewer. This means that recent arrivals are wealthier and older, with children and grandchildren, who want bigger houses for their families. The cabin by the sea is no longer enough.


Perez Residence


Perez Residence


Perez Residence

Jim Gibbon, AIA: Firm Profile

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.


12,000 s.f. M.C. Hammer’s Home in Fremont

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.


An Addition

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.

gibbon2In 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.

Amato Architecture: Firm Profile

firm 3

Magnolia Bar

The architectural design firm, Amato Architecture, was founded by licensed architect, Rebecca Ivans Amato, AIA in 2001. With a focus on green building principles and design services for residential, commercial and restaurant projects, Amato Architecture is recognized for their creative solutions and singular endeavors.

Named “Best Architect” by Oakland Magazine in 2015, Amato Architecture strives to meet the needs and expectations of a unique and diverse client base. “Our clients’ satisfaction is the utmost priority,” says Amato, “and our success is reflected by an extensive depth of return clients and personal referrals for which I’m most proud.” Unwilling to be defined by a particular design style, Amato Architecture prefers to embrace the unique architectural characteristics of each structure with a balanced blend of process and approach, with the client’s desired aesthetic and goals always in mind. For the past 15 years, Amato Architecture has found a comfortable niche in the Rockridge community of Oakland, completing 50+ residential additions and remodels in this community alone.

firm 2

Ross Street

Selected for the Rockridge Kitchen Tour, the firm’s Ross Street remodel project exemplifies Amato Architecture’s customized and collaborative approach to design. In this historic Storybook Mansion, vaulted ceilings and exposed beams were added in the kitchen to mimic the home’s great room. This visual unification seamlessly integrated the new kitchen with the rest of the home, while tiles and finishes were enthusiastically selected by the owners and coordinated by Amato Architecture to ensure a unified result. The owner/architect collaboration has always been a critical component to ensuring a positive experience and outcome for Amato Architecture’s clients.


South of Giant’s stadium, San Francisco’s burgeoning Dogpatch neighborhood is another hotbed of projects for the firm. Since 2008, Amato Architecture has successfully completed three restaurant and commercial projects, including Serpentine Restaurant, Dogpatch Winery and Magnolia Brewery & Smokestack Restaurant. Currently under construction is an extensive, 12,000 SF conversion of a boiler factory to a multiuse event space, restaurant and bar, with roof-top garden – slated to open in Spring 2016.

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Ross Street

Amato Architecture will begin construction on at least two, ground-up residential projects this year – an exciting development for the firm. One is a 5-bedroom, 5-bath, beachfront vacation home on Maui, HI and the other is the rebuilding of a Lake County, CA summer residence, where the owners lost their home in the devastating fires of 2015. Both homes will have their own unique, dramatically modern aesthetic with multiple, indoor-outdoor connection points for seamless integration into the natural surroundings. Utilizing the energy efficient building systems and materials, the team is embracing the goal of achieving a net zero environmental footprint for both.

Necessitated by business growth, Amato Architecture recently moved to larger offices in Emeryville. “Our expanding staff allows us to pursue many opportunities,” says Amato. “We are very excited to develop our skills and apply our experience to future projects.”

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.