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Posts tagged ‘Member Profile’

Tay Othman, AIA: Member Profile

I was born, raised and educated in Iraq, and studied local architecture and urban planning principles at Alnahrain University, prior to interning in post-war reconstruction and infrastructure rehabilitation projects.

Tay Othman, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Being pushed by the geopolitical turmoil in the area, I moved to Jordan in 2006. Seeking personal safety and hope, I helped co-establish a small animation studio, and worked as an art director for film and TV commercials for few years. In 2010, I was granted refugee status and moved to the United States. Later that year, I Joined AIA Santa Clara Valley as a part of the emerging professionals committee, then started to lead the local ARE study groups from 2012-2013. I also served as the chair of the Emerging Professionals Committee from 2013-2015. In 2016, after obtaining my license in California, I was elected as architect chair for the Bay Area Young Architects, helping with mentorship, license stewardship and the organization of events and firm tours. Recently I transferred to AIA Eastbay to participate in local programs around Oakland and Berkeley.

My career path was native to the Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, starting at Gensler in San Jose as a Job Captain and BIM specialist where my main focus was commercial office buildings for technology companies. Five years later, I moved to DES Architects and Engineers in San Francisco as a project architect to work on education, higher education and mixed-use projects. My current project is a 130,000 sf mixed-use- development with a historical preservation scope in downtown Redwood City.

Aside from my current employment, I’m running a home atelier for weekend enjoyment by working on small design projects and computational exploration and fabrication for buildings and objects.

Rick Kattenburg, AIA: Member Profile

Rick Kattenburg, AIA

The son of an American Foreign Service officer, Rick Kattenburg, AIA lived in Asia and Europe as a child. His experiences abroad came to influence his architectural style, which is based heavily on classical concepts found in many European and Asian buildings.

After earning a bachelor’s degree with honors in architecture from North Carolina State University in 1972, Kattenburg moved to California to begin his career at various San Francisco firms. In 1975, Kattenburg began attending UC Berkeley for graduate school, where he studied the American housing industry, building technology, and real estate development strategy. He earned both his master of architecture degree and his California architectural license in 1976.

From March to October 1977, Kattenburg served as the job captain on Macondray Terrace, a $2.5 million, 13-unit wood frame condominium project in Russian Hill, San Francisco for the Hood Miller Partnership. This project won many awards, including the National A.I.A. Honor Award, CCAIA, and the Sunset Magazine Award. He then joined Bull, Field, Volkmann & Stockwell in San Francisco, where he accrued valuable experience in construction management as the project manager on several projects, including River Run Condominiums in Lake Tahoe, the Sentinel Building Highrise Retrofit for Omni Zoetrope in San Francisco, and the UCSB University Center 2 in Santa Barbara.

In 1981, Kattenburg opened Kattenburg & Associates, a private practice in San Anselmo, CA. He and his firm completed various commercial, institutional and residential projects, including the Memorial Park Field House in San Anselmo, the conversion of a 15,000 square foot industrial building in Emeryville into an office complex, and over 40 residential projects across the Bay Area. During this time, Kattenburg worked as a consultant for Treffinger, Walz & MacLeod in San Rafael and George Miers & Associates in San Francisco. He also taught architecture courses at San Francisco State University, UC Berkeley Extension, and the Owner Builder Center in Berkeley.

Kattenburg closed Kattenburg & Associates in 1986 to become a partner at George Miers & Associates, where he oversaw and directed numerous projects. With Miers, he received the Gold Nugget Award in 1989 for the Colby Taylor residence, and again in 1990 for his work as project manager of the new Vallejo Sanitation and Flood Control administration building.

In 1989, Kattenburg reopened Kattenburg & Associates in Benicia. He has completed many new custom homes, remodels, and additions across the Bay Area and in Southern California, as well as commercial and institutional projects. One notable example is the San Ramon Senior Center, which Kattenburg designed in 1992 in collaboration with Wilkinson & Hartman Architects. In 2003, the firm, now renamed Kattenburg Architects, added a 5,000 foot addition and a new 50-car parking lot to the project.

Kattenburg & Associates is based in Orinda, California and continues to provide high-quality architectural service in the Bay Area and beyond. Their specialty remains “fine custom homes and additions” in the Walnut Creek/Lamorinda corridor. Other projects include shops and light commercial work. Visit to see what we’ve been up to.


Shifan Deng, Assoc. AIA: Member Profile

Shifan Deng, Assoc. AIA is a Technical Designer at Gensler. He has always been interested in drawing and chose architecture as his major during undergraduate school in Beijing. After finishing his five-year bachelor’s degree, he continued studying at UC Berkeley and pursued a master’s degree. 

My experience attending UC Berkeley for my Masters in Architecture really broadened my horizon because I not only took courses but also taught undergraduate students during my first year. The differences in education between Beijing and Berkeley made me learn a variety of diverse design approaches. That summer I won ZGF’s summer internship and scholarship and after, was offered a one year internship with UNStudio, which was one of my favorite firms at that time. I decided to take a year off of school to accept the offer from UNStudio, in order to gain more experiences before earning my masters. My new journey had started.

The internship was divided into two parts, half the year in Shanghai and other half in Amsterdam. I appreciated the intense work in Shanghai where I picked up many new skills. I also had an amazing trip in Europe where I experienced numerous architectural masterpieces in-person. During that year, I worked on multiple projects in China and Europe, learning the difference between eastern and western culture in architecture. I developed a special interest in architectural digital tools.  With access to parametric tool tutorials and learning techniques from talented colleagues, I made a lot of progress in digital design approach. When the holidays came, I went on architectural tours to different countries with my colleagues; the splendid architecture and wonderful scenery encouraged me to create better work.

I came back to school with one year of working experience under my belt and finishing my master’s degree. I took on the role of Technical Designer at Gensler and kept exploring my own architectural path. I treat digital tools application as my expertise. I now try to solve traditional questions in a more advanced and efficient way and even started an AIA CES course at Gensler to share my knowledge of Grasshopper to colleagues.

I believe diversity in education and working experience drive me to think differently when facing a variety projects in the design process. Knowledge of digital tools helps me generate solutions in a cross-disciplinary way. I appreciate all the opportunities and resources that I have and will contribute more energy and passion into innovations in the architecture field.

Liesel Haldane, Assoc. AIA: Member Profile

Liesel Haldane, Assoc. AIA started her career at the Florida Park Service while in graduate school for landscape architecture at Florida A&M University.  The Park Service’s Bureau of Design and Construction provided in-house architectural services to the more than 160 parks in the state of Florida.  As an engineering technician, she drafted a 250 seat amphitheater at Big Lagoon State Park, a two-story concessions building at Sebastian Inlet, and a large assortment of ADA renovations, restroom facilities and roof repairs.  Thanks to her early work experiences, Liesel quickly realized that she didn’t want to limit herself to flatwork and happily changed her degree path to architecture.  She started the IDP while still in school, and received her M.Arch. in 2010, just in time for the Great Recession to hit the government sector.

When the economy bounced back, so did she, this time at Hoy+Stark Architects in Tallahassee.  She worked on several projects that have recently been completed, including City Church at Sessions Road and Market Plaza.  City Church transformed an existing warehouse and former skate rink into a sanctuary for contemporary services with a cafe and office spaces.  Challenges included acoustical design of the space for live amplified performances and meeting budget requirements.  Market Plaza was a core/shell project with two simultaneous restaurant tenant improvements. The projects required significant coordination efforts throughout the design phases, as well as on-site construction administration.  Other projects included renovations/additions at local schools, a design study of the state capitol’s parking garage and plaza, as well as a residential pool cabana.  She also became involved in the AIA as the Associate Director of the local chapter, and attended state and national conventions with the Hoy+Stark team.

Liesel moved to California with her husband, daughter, and two Weimaraners in 2015, and very recently settled in Berkeley where she also works, at ELS Architecture and Urban Design.  With only one ARE left to complete, Liesel plans to become licensed in both Florida and California very soon.

Len Freeman, Assoc. AIA: Member Profile

Len Freeman, Assoc. AIA is a 2011 graduate of the University of Texas, Arlington where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in architecture.  As a current member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Board as well as new associate member of the American Institute of Architects, Freeman is on his way as he pursues licensure­­­­­.

Freeman comes from a rigorous academic background that began while attending Oakland Technical High School’s engineering academy in Oakland, which influenced his professional career. With the knowledge he learned, he progressed into his undergraduate studies.  It was not until undergrad that he faced great challenges – sleepless days, nights, months and years that tested his loyalty to his profession. Nevertheless, his dedication allowed him to prevail and he blossomed into the strong critical thinker that he is today. His unique pattern of thought lives between space and anti-space.

He has worked on a variety of project types including, K-12, higher education, residential, commercial and retail architecture. The diversity in project types has helped Freeman grow personally and professionally within the realm of design. In his past role as a project leader, he learned how technology affects project work flows. He also managed the production standards development, while handling construction schedules, budgets, agency requirements. He did all this while performing a variety of tasks involving schematic design and construction administration.

Freeman works as a senior project coordinator for BRW Architects in San Francisco. There he focuses on a variety of municipal, civic and fire station tenant innovation projects. While working with these various projects throughout California and Texas, he upholds the company’s values and commitment to client service. Freeman is unwavering, independent and jumps hurdles without batting an eye. His demeanor remains very calm and professional under pressure and he continues to have fun throughout this evolving world of architecture. My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.  -Mya Angelou

Mercedes E. Harris, Assoc. AIA: Member Profile

In May 2017, I was one of fifteen students to graduate from Oklahoma State University with a professional degree in architecture. Today, I am a long way from home as I work towards a Masters of Urban Design from the University of California, Berkeley. The events that led me to the East Bay, in hindsight, are straight forward enough.

After my third year, I received my first internship designing public schools at a firm in Dallas. The next summer I spent time in Wichita with a firm that specialized in healthcare facilities. Architecture was plan A up until that point – if I didn’t enjoy the field or I flunked out, there was no backup plan. That was until my last two years of school, when I began to read books and watch films about urban design. I took Oklahoma State’s final undergraduate studio, which delved deep into urban issues. I thought I had enjoyed architecture more than anything, but I soon realized I had been working at the wrong scale. Urban Design became my new passion.

Outside of studio, I enjoyed many opportunities on-campus and in the community. I was a Girl Scout troop leader for three and a half years, volunteered at many community events, working mainly with children, and ultimately completed five hundred hours of community service during my ungraduated career. My campus position as a Career Paraprofessional in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology (CEAT) was to prepare other students to build their own careers. I’ve been trained in resume building, mock interviews, job search techniques, corresponding with professionals, etc. During my last three semesters, I worked with fellow architecture students to redevelop the student chapter of Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). I also worked with a group of five students to envision the Honors College Student Association (HCSA). When I passed the presidency along, HCSA had over 80 members and $1000 in group-raised funding. CSI, similarly, saw a tripled membership and $600 in group-raised funding.

Upon graduation, I briefly returned to Dallas to work for WRA Architects, the firm where I had my first internship opportunity. I still do contract work for them, writing a type of shorthand specifications. I look forward to my year at UC Berkeley and my time in the East Bay, as well as for whatever comes next.

Rebecca Ivans Amato: Living and Designing With Purpose

A Member Profile

Her first foray into design began in her childhood bedroom in Lakewood, Colorado. Rebecca Amato spent hours rearranging the furniture in the room she shared with her two sisters, attempting to realize a version of the modernist home she admired on The Brady Bunch.

Fast forward a few decades and Rebecca Amato is still rearranging–and creating. Her visionary designs have reimagined historic San Francisco Victorians, Berkeley bungalows, and turn-of-the-last-century industrial warehouses into vibrant and distinctive spaces. Now principal architect and owner of Amato Architecture, a company she started in 2002, Amato employs a team of five designers who help her turn every project into a unique environment configured for the way people want to enjoy life.

After graduating from the Environmental Design program in 1988 from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Rebecca’s career almost immediately took on a cosmopolitan flair. She moved to San Francisco where she worked for Huntsman Associates on commercial interiors. Then, after obtaining her architecture license in 1995, she pursued an opportunity to work in the Chitwan jungle in Nepal for 3 months. An 18-month exploration of Southeast Asia followed, including a design stint for Bangkok-based Woods Bagot.

Her next job at HOK in San Francisco sent her to Beijing and Hong Kong to work on large hotel projects. Desiring to work outside the corporate environment, Rebecca next joined IN:SITE Design Build Association to gain project management skills and lead large design projects in a smaller team environment.

After starting a family in 2003 and then designing a 1,200 square foot addition to her own residence, Rebecca gained insight into the needs and unique tribulations of a family attempting to overhaul their home. Her residential work often includes repurposed space and multi-use options (such as a residential conversion of a storage room into a laundry/music/guest room) or imaginative build-outs like a children’s play-loft above adjacent bedroom closets. A redesigned, unique kitchen with inside/outside bar access will be on display September 23-24, 2017 during the Rockridge neighborhood Kitchen Tour.

One outstanding example of Amato’s commercial work is The Pearl, a recently completed, exclusive event space in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. A steel crane system across the ceiling of the former boiler factory was fixed in place to structurally support a new rooftop deck, then utilized below to house event lighting while also functioning as a decorative planter. A spin-off of that project is a marquee event space (now under construction) in Oakland’s Jack London Square featuring the United Beerworks brewery, also designed by Amato Architecture.

A favorite of Rebecca’s projects that is also currently under construction is a new two-level, modern vacation home on the beach in Maui, outside of Lahaina. “It doesn’t get much better when you get to travel to Hawaii with your family to see one of your projects under construction,” Rebecca said. “I really do feel I am living the life I dreamed where travel, family and my design passion all come together!”

Member Profile: Juta Cinco, Assoc. AIA

In 2006 I moved to the Northeast for the first time, to attend Harvard Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I graduated with an MArch I degree in 2010. The intense demands of school were alleviated by the Boston Red Sox winning the World Series in 2007 and the Boston Celtics the NBA championship in 2008. What luck, right?

I moved to San Francisco shortly after graduating and lived in the city from 2010-2014. Although it was the tail end of the recession, I was fortunate to find not only jobs but great mentors along the way. The late Ken Kao, from Kao Design Group, was the first. His thoughtfulness and intelligence guided my path into the professional world of architecture. Following KDG, steps of growth involved working with Byron Kuth and Elizabeth Ranieri at Kuth/Ranieri Architects. I learned a tremendous amount from them, especially about the rigor involved in creating solutions to design problems. I tested this rigor at Studios Architecture with a team led by Tom Yee and Jerry Griffin (and Justin Glover later). Our four-year collaboration resulted in the recently opened Shanghai International Dance Center. This was my first lead design work, focusing on the main building’s lobby and auditorium. Also a first, since 1954, was the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series in 2010. They followed with two more championships during the time I lived in the city, one in 2012 and another in 2014. Is this really happening?

Capping the decade have been two more career opportunities. First, a BIM consulting
company called Modulus Consulting, led by Peter Michealson, provided an opportunity for me to
explore BIM management using the most up-to-date technology. They think a couple of steps
ahead. The second opportunity is my current job with Mark Cavagnero Associates. I have held
their work up on a pedestal since moving to the Bay Area.

My wife, daughter and I now reside in Oakland. We settled here in late 2014. We love
the city and are proud to call it home. The city returned the favor when the Golden State
Warriors won the NBA Championships in 2015. And, as we all know, they just recently claimed
another one. This is really happening.

I am looking forward to the next decade. I am excited to see what I can learn from and
contribute to the Mark Cavagnero team. And, now that Oakland is home, I root for the yellow
and green to clinch a major league title.

Matthew Cortez, Assoc. AIA: Member Profile

Matthew Cortez, Assoc. AIA grew up in California’s Central Coast and its natural beauty gave him an appreciation for harmony and design. His mother, a seamstress by trade, instilled in Matthew and his siblings the value of using your own hands to create. This started Matthew’s desire to achieve a career in a creative field. He graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor’s of Architecture in 2009.  Since then his career has been anything but traditional.

After he graduated, Matthew began his post-university career working in real estate, coordinating the preparation and sale of residential property.  In 2012, Matthew began working in the construction industry as an estimator and project control manager.  His experience in this part of the building process has given him valuable insight into bidding and budgeting processes as well as project management and tracking. This experience in construction management allows Matthew to quickly understand impacts to overall project cost and completion time.

Although the positions Matthew held early in his career were disconnected from the design process and focused on the business side of construction, he has always found a way to express his creativity.  While Matthew was in high school, he developed a passion for woodworking. In his spare time, he can be found in his woodshop designing and producing small furniture items and other home decor for a small business he owns and manages.  Matthew has developed and fostered a keen ability to visualize the end design, and develop a creative approach to produce outstanding results.

Matthew is currently pursuing his architectural license. He works with Past the Gate, a general builder and design/build firm, specializing in landscape construction and associated small remodels.   The firm’s design team combines expertise in landscape architecture, architecture and technical construction methodology to ensure each design meets the client’s specific spatial and budgetary needs.

Member Profile: Jack Herbert, AIA

Jack Herbert, AIA, DBIA, is a construction manager for Swinerton Builders who has both practiced architecture and worked as a general contractor and now assists owners in the design and construction of their projects. Jack’s objective is to provide the best design solutions within the limits of an owner’s budget constraints and in drawing on the combined strength of a collaborative team of owner, architect and contractor to accomplish this objective.

“I’ve really enjoyed projects where an Integrated Project Delivery approach draws on the strengths of all partners concurrently to achieve a higher level of design in a collaborative rather than adversarial process.”

Having been in the role of architect, contractor and owner Jack recognizes the experiences of all parties and understands what they each need to achieve success. Jack works to build consensus among the team and to challenge all parties to find ways to make their partners successful.

Jack studied architecture at the University of Illinois and at UC Berkeley and began his career as a design architect working at SOM in San Francisco.

“SOM was an amazing training ground with incredible projects, leadership and talent…..some of my best lifetime friendships were forged in the studio.”

After a few years Jack moved to a smaller firm with the intent to broaden his experience. He learned more about construction, including construction documents, at an entirely different level of intensity from that of the design studio.

“I was always trying to expand my experience across the design and construction industry, always trying to understand not only the complexities of the architectural profession but to understand the mindset of the owner and the contractor.”

After practicing architecture in both large and medium firms and running his own small firm, Jack decided to explore how he could contribute his experience somewhere else. Jack joined Swinerton in 2005 and moved to Swinerton Management & Construction in 2009 where he works as an owner’s representative and construction manager. There, Jack manages large higher-education and courthouse projects for public owners using IPD delivery methods including CMAR and design build.