Firm Profile June 2019

AIA East Bay Members Since 1955
  1. How did your firm get its name? The firm name has evolved over time.  First it was known as Goetz & Hansen, then Jens Hansen Associates which became Hansen Murakami Eshima.  After Jens Hansen and Tak Eshima retired it became murakami/Nelson. 

  2. How large is the firm? Our size has fluctuated over the years, but currently, we have 10 staff which allows us to take on a range of work and balance multiple projects, but still have the personal involvement of the principals.

  3. Where are you located? We are located near Jack London Square, at the end of Filbert Street.   If the new A’s Stadium is built at Howard Terminals we will be looking at the ballpark!

  4. How did the firm get its start? The firm was founded in 1954 by Jens Hansen after he graduated from UC Berkeley. His early projects were for public agencies and private clients who were friends.

  5. What is the firm personality? Open, welcoming, casual.  Our staff represents a microcosm of the Bay area.
Lake Merrit Boathouse – see more
  1. What’s the firm’s focus? We focus on civic, education and retail projects.  The private projects provide a good counterpoint to the public work.

  2. How might the focus of your practice change? We are not afraid to tackle a new project type which requires creative thinking.  Recent examples of that are an affordable mid-rise housing project in downtown Oakland and an Auto-Technology Center for Solano Community College.

  3. What’s the most unusual project your firm has done? We have designed several unusual projects, but one that comes to mind is our participation on the design/build team for the Presidio Parkway in San Francisco.  The roadway links Lombard Street and the Marina to the Golden Gate Bridge.  As design architects for Phase II of the project we prepared studies, designs and construction documents for the north bound bridge at Park Presidio Boulevard, the tunnel portals, the Tennessee Hollow bridges, the roadway, an underground substation and the relocation and reinstallation of a 200 foot long historic warehouse.   It is very satisfying to drive towards the Golden Gate Bridge from Lombard Street and know we had something to do with the experience.

  4. When was the firm established? We were established in 1954, making us one of the oldest architectural firms in the East Bay
San Lorenzo Librarysee more


  1. What’s your favorite local building? One of our favorites is the Elihu Harris State Office Building in Oakland. We won the commission in a design-build competition with one of Mike’s Cal CED classmates. 

  2. What is the makeup of your firm and do you have other disciplines? We have four architects, five designers and a business manager. We focus on architecture and planningWe are not shy about collaborating with other Architectural and Planning firms to enhance the diversity of our work.

  3. How is your firm structured? We are an architectural corporation and have two principals, Mike Murakami and John Nelson.

  4. Do you have any office pets? We don’t have any office pets, but are pet friendly.

  5. Which method of marketing has been the most successful for the firm? Referrals from satisfied clients have been the most successful marketing strategy for us. 

  6. How would you describe your firm’s culture? We believe in empowering our staff to become well-rounded professionals capable of managing projects.  Many staff members achieve licensure during their tenure with us.
Merrit College, Barbara Lee Science and Health Centersee more
  1. What team-building activities happen within your firm? Birthdays are celebrated with enthusiasm and a cake!  As an office we have gone sailing, attended A’s games and barbecued on our loading dock to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July.

  2. What’s your firm’s favorite lunch spot? There are many good places to eat in Oakland.  We enjoy eating lunch at Brown Sugar Kitchen and the Fat Lady (a local favorite).

  3. What type of client has been the best to work with? We have developed a long-term relationship with a private client who regards us as an integral part of his team for evaluating and designing projects.  The relationship has been very good for our office and for the client.  We also developed a very strong relationship with a school district, providing planning and design services for their bond program over a 9 year period.
  4. How has the practice changed since the beginning? Definitely technology has made a difference in how we practice.  Our earliest projects in the 1950’s and 1960’s were drawn by hand in pencil, later came CAD and now Revit, Photoshop and Rhino have transformed the way we design and document projects.  Many of our clients now expect photo-realistic renderings so they can better understand what the finished project will look like. Technology has allowed us to design multiple projects, but with fewer staff.  We continue our tradition of nurturing our staff to grow their skills and progress in the profession.  What hasn’t changed is that we still really like coming together to solve challenging design problems.

  5. What does the future hold for the firm? Build on client relationships, hone the skills we have developed, design quality projects and enjoy what we are doing.