Firm Profile – Johnson Lyman Architects, LLP

Johnson Lyman Architects, LLP is an 8 people Architecture and Planning firm established in May 1991. As of 1992, the firm has been located in their downtown Walnut Creek office building. Dave Johnson and Robert Lyman have known each other since high school and both attended Cal-Poly SLO. At first, they were both working for Dave’s father, Bud Johnson, a well respected Architect in the retail commercial sector. When Bud retired, he offered the two of them to get them started on their own firm.  

Originally, Dave and Robert started out as a continuation of their previous firm, focusing on retail. They slowly transitioned into a more mixed-use commercial projects and multi-family housing. Since there has been an abundance of retail space around, Johnson Lyman Architects has welcomed the shift. Some of their work has involved several marijuana dispensaries over the last year. Dave and Robert first thought these were unusual projects, but later started to view them as quite normal. 

Since Johnson Lyman Architects is currently at 8 people, the firm tends to be casual and open. For instance, they know what’s going on in their coworker’s lives and have team-building activities such as office beer brewing, summer Tailgate party extravaganzas, and grab a slice of pizza at their favorite lunch spot, Extreme Pizza. Not only does the firm have a friendly and casual workplace, but they also have a typical small firm culture. Most of them do all the tasks from making copies to being a job captain. Johnson and Lyman believes it makes them an efficient firm. 

Dave and Robert believe their firm’s success comes from doing good work and many repeat clients. Their favorite type of client to work with are those who understand the design and construction process enough to have a realistic expectation about timing and cost. When Johnson Lyman Architects got their start, they mostly hand drafted their projects and handled business via mail and fax machines. Now, almost all of their projects are BIM and they get to end the day with clean hands and shirt sleeves! The firm has also been incorporating an emphasis on sustainability. Dave and Robert believe that their firm is experienced enough to have the right answers to most of the questions and design issues. They comment on how quickly the world changes and jokes that their clients will monitor them in real time in the near future. Since the future is constantly changing, Johnson Lyman Architects, LLP see a need to change the questions asked. 

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