Firm Profile – Byrens Kim Design Works

Byrens Kim Design Works (BKDW) is a firm that was established in 1979. The firm got its start when Dave Byrens decided to focus on public buildings. Thus, Byrens founded Byrens Associates as a sole proprietorship. When Dong E. Kim joined in 1998 and was made partner in 2009, the firm’s name changed to what is now known as Byrens Kim Design Works. 

As of now, their firm consists of 10 staff members and an office pet! Rosa the dog visits the firm 2 days a week, along with other dogs that are occasionally brought by staff. The firm is an S-Corporation which is composed of a CEO, office manager, 2 senior project managers, 2 job captains and 4 designers.

Since the firm has a close-knit team, their work style is very collaborative. For instance, their name suggests they focus on working on innovation design while delivering a triple bottom line outcome to their clients. Their team has gotten close due to the firm’s lunchtime gatherings 1-2 times a month to discuss topics of interest. The firm even has a favorite lunch spot: Chopbar on 4th and Alice Street! Additionally, they host a lunch-and-learn once a month for their employees. They encourage attendance of educational events within the community like at SPUR, AIA EB, PG&E, etc. The firm also hosts an annual holiday party in the office and are planning their first summer event this year. Byrens Kim Design Works has a spacious office located in a former warehouse close to Jackson Square, San Francisco. Since they are located in a sprawling city surrounded by beautiful architecture, BKDW’s favorite local building is the DeYoung Museum.

The firm offers architecture, master planning, and interior design services. BKDW has architects, architectural/urban designers, and an interior designer on staff. Byrens Kim Design Works compete with other firms in public RFP/RFQ processes for institutional/public work. They are often invited to propose for projects as a result of relationships developed over time. Most of their work is for and with existing clients. The firm’s portfolio indicates that they work best with complex client groups as they successfully deliver projects with complex approval processes. BKDW is able to leverage their portfolio to different types of projects ranging from complexity and size. In fact, one of the most unusual projects the firm did was designing a research pier over San Francisco Bay for San Francisco State University’s Romberg Tiburon Center.

The firm strives to have projects that serve the community at large and enhance on all scales. For instance, the firm has served projects focusing on community centers such as the Rainbow Community Center, projects within K-12 public educational system like the Madison Park High School Complex, projects associated with emotional health services such as Jay Mahler Recovery Center, community oriented projects like Urban Tilth Farm, and projects that require some master planning such as the Lincoln Square Center. Although the firm focuses on community design oriented projects, they intend to expand their projects within a wider geographical area for their existing client base while still applying their design principles.

Rainbow Community Center Rainbow Community Center

Since the firm has been around since 1979, some practices have changed. Most of the change is from how they do the work. BKDW applies a collaborative design approach and is at state-of-the-art technology in their use of BIM, parametric design, 3D scans, 3D renderings, and communication technology. Their work is executed in a team environment with great flexibility for staff to work remotely and/or at their convenient times. As for the future, Byrens Kim Design Works are excited about planning for future growth and making improvements to their office environment. To illustrate, height work stations and a communal kitchen are in works among other improvements. Furthermore, their project portfolio is expanding to include office buildings, workplace improvements, and housing projects.