January Show & Tell – Presented by the SFF (1.5 LU)
This month, Barry Wagner and Rebecca Friedberg will show us some lovely work of theirs!
- Gain insight into the variety of service niches other small firms are exploiting.
- Learn how other small firms juggle design, client needs and business realities.
- Gain insight into the important relationship between inner drive and rewarding work.
- Gain a useful perspective that ties one’s own challenges to those others face and master.
About the speakers
Rebecca is an Oakland-based architect and educator working primarily on commercial projects throughout the Bay Area and beyond. She especially loves working with other passionate small business owners and nonprofits to create compelling physical spaces: places that add their special sauce to the community, and that people love coming back to.
Rebecca has always had a fascination with 3d art-making, and vividly remembers being a child, scolded for wasting the “nice” soaps by whittling them into animal figurines. She took studio art classes every semester of college, always pass/fail, just for fun. Architecture as a profession would not cross her mind until many years later.
She completed her BA in Psychology and spent eight years working in the nonprofit, education, and public health sectors before finally deciding to go to architecture school for her masters. She earned her M.Arch from UCLA, then worked for firms in SF, Berkeley, and Oakland before starting her own firm, Synapse Design Studio, in 2016.
Synapse Design Studio is named for the body’s synapses – the interstitial spaces between neurons where electrochemical magic happens: communication and transformation through molecular interaction. Similarly, our work as architects is about transformation, collaboration, and takes place in environments swarming with variables, both within and outside our control.
Rebecca has taught design studios at UC Berkeley Extension, volunteer-taught with the ACE Mentoring after-school program, and currently volunteer-builds with Youth Spirit Artworks Tiny House Village. Rebecca feels most fulfilled working on public-facing projects that engage the community, whether that’s retail; food, bev, & cannabis; or community and nonprofit projects. She feels purpose-driven to continue to grow her firm in a community-engaged direction.
When I was 12 years old, I built a work table in my bedroom to solder things out of copper, brass and silver. At 13, I got a skilsaw a from a pawn shop to make things out of wood.
At Cal, in addition to the design studios, I spent much time in the architecture workshop using woodworking and metal working equipment making furniture.
After graduation, I worked for a year for a structural engineer in San Francisco, then took up an invitation from a visiting professor from Japan and landed a job at a design and construction company in Sapporo, Japan.
After a year and a half, I returned to the USA and got a job in New York where I lived and worked for six years until I got my architecture license. Upon returning to California, I remodeled a fixer-upper, taught homebuilding and design classes at the Building Education Center, and did a lot of remodel/addition work until the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 dried things up.
Since then, my work has been divided between remodel/addition design jobs, pocket door repair jobs, completing construction of my office/workshop ADU and building a duplex on the next door lot.