25 best architecture firms in San Francisco
Jason O'Rear

25 best architecture firms in San Francisco

5 May 2023  •  News  •  By Surabhi Patil

Set against a backdrop of rolling hills and glittering waters of the San Francisco Bay, the city has witnessed an array of influences over the years, from the iconic Victorian-era homes lining the street with bay windows, ornate mouldings and colourful facades to the modern towers that dot the city’s skyline. Landmark structures like the Transamerica Pyramid, the San Francisco War Memorial and the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge contributed to the city's reputation as a centre of contemporary architecture. In recent years, San Francisco has faced several challenges including wildfires and rising sea levels, shifting the focus of architects to designing resilient buildings and infrastructure. From historical restorations to green architecture projects, the following list comprises a selection of 25 firms that continue to contribute to the city’s dynamic architectural landscape.


photo_credit Adam Rouse
Adam Rouse

1. Feldman Architecture

Feldman Architecture is a renowned design practice specializing in creating warm and light-filled residential and commercial spaces, tailored to each client's specific needs and context. With a highly collaborative approach to design, the firm views each project as a dialogue between the client, the design team, and the site, aiming to develop innovative and site-sensitive solutions. The studio's informal and non-hierarchical culture fosters an engaging and shared process with clients to find smart and sustainable solutions. The designers and project managers closely guide projects from design to construction and are deeply involved in researching and exploring the project's parameters. By forging strong alliances with consultants, builders, and artisans, the firm makes carefully informed design decisions, resulting in fully realized projects with clear conceptual vision and precise detailing.



photo_credit Matthew Millman
Matthew Millman

2. Aidlin Darling Design

Aidlin Darling Design is a multidisciplinary firm founded by Joshua Aidlin and David Darling in 1998 in a San Francisco woodshop where they crafted furniture. Their passion for shared-making and their craft's history has become the foundation of their collaborative design process. At Aidlin Darling Design, they approach each project with a client and site-specific perspective, emphasizing open communication among clients, consultants, fabricators, and builders. Their design philosophy is centered on creating sensory environments where the space's feel is as important as its appearance. The firm's commitment to this ethos is evident in their recent collaboration with director Braden King on the film, "Aidlin Darling Design: Architecture for the Senses," which showcases their soulful and sensory approach to design.



photo_credit CRL

3. Gensler 

A globally leading firm for architecture, design and planning, Gensler has a wide network across America, Europe, Greater China, Asia Pacific and the Middle East with a total of 53 locations and more than 7000 professionals. Established in 1965, the firm has a client base of more than 4000 spread across 29 practice areas including work, lifestyle, community, and health. Gensler strives towards creating a better world through the power of design and believes that the team is their greatest asset.




4. Studio O+A

Studio O+A is an award-winning interior design firm based in San Francisco, that believes in the power of storytelling through design. With over 40 designers, architects, project managers, and branding specialists, the team uncovers a client's unique story and translates it into a space that enables employees to perform their best work. The studio started with commercial interiors and has evolved into services like branding, environmental graphics, tenant improvements and consultancy. For the past 30 years, the firm has revolutionized workplaces. Studio O+A has received numerous industry awards including winning the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Interior Design in 2016 and has been featured in publications worldwide.



photo_credit Image Center Architectural Photography
Image Center Architectural Photography

5. Blitz
Blitz is a nimble, perceptive and mobile architecture and design firm that crafts bespoke projects for creative people across the world. The firm strives for clear and concise work that communicates complex ideas in a straightforward way. The studio believes in the importance of improving the quality of the built environment to enhance people's lives and is committed to corporate responsibility by prioritizing team development, sourcing sustainable materials, and partnering with local and disadvantaged businesses. Blitz balances buildings, strategy, branding, and experiences to create transformative spaces by combining research, understanding of clients' needs, and years of experience to offer innovative and delightful solutions.



photo_credit 2022 Mariko Reed
2022 Mariko Reed

6. Klopf Architecture 

Klopf Architecture is a San Francisco-based firm established in 2001 by John Klopf. Specializing in modernist architecture with a focus on residential clients the firm has completed over 175 projects. With a team of 17 professionals, including partner Geoff Campen, the firm takes a client-centric approach to design, embracing each client’s vision while bringing modernist design expertise and technical know-how to the table. Klopf Architecture is committed to creating unique and relevant solutions that exceed clients' expectations, as demonstrated by its record of past success.



photo_credit Joe Fletcher
Joe Fletcher

7. Fougeron Architecture

FOUGERON ARCHITECTURE is a well-known design firm that has been operating since 1985. The firm's design philosophy prioritizes clarity of thought, design integrity, and architectural detail. Founder Anne Fougeron has been instrumental in establishing the firm's distinctly modernist approach, which aims to achieve a harmonious relationship between architectural concepts and their physical manifestation. The firm's design principles revolve around three key ideas: the quality of natural light is crucial in shaping architectural space, innovative structural solutions can serve as ornamentation, and exploring the sensory qualities of materials enhances the user experience of a building.



photo_credit Jason O'Rear
Jason O'Rear

8. Handel Architects

Established in 1994, Handel Architects believe that design and architecture have the potential to create a positive change and enhance urban living conditions. They aim to design buildings that can trigger positive social and urban changes. With a team of more than 200 architects and designers spread across locations in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Denver, and Hong Kong, Handel Architects have completed various projects such as the National September 11 Memorial, urban infrastructure, high-density mixed-use developments, multi-family projects, hotels, and institutional buildings worldwide.



photo_credit Matthew Millman
Matthew Millman

9. Walker Warner Architects

Founded in 1989, Walker Warner is a full-service architectural firm that specializes in custom residential and hospitality design. The firm is led by partners Brooks Walker, Greg Warner, Kathy Scott, and Mike McCabe. Walker Warner's design process is shaped by their culture and values and is grounded in their ethos.



photo_credit Garrett Rowland
Garrett Rowland

10. IA Interior Architects 

IA is an internationally recognized firm of architects, designers, strategists, and specialists that concentrates solely on creating environments through the lens of interior architecture. Established in 1984, IA is a highly connected organization that is committed to being agents of change and serving their communities, while promoting creativity, innovation, and growth. The interconnected teams at IA are dedicated to advancing the industry through research, innovation, and the creation of clever, incredibly imaginative solutions that represent clients' brands. As an employee-owned firm, IA fosters a diverse and purpose-driven culture that brings new ideas to life while challenging the status quo.



photo_credit Paul Dyer
Paul Dyer

11. John Lum Architecture 

John Lum Architecture is a San Francisco-based boutique architecture firm founded by John Lum in 1994. Known for its innovative use of materials, modern liveability, and dedication to sustainable development, the firm has completed over 800 projects, ranging from new residential construction and remodels to commercial interiors and medical facilities. Their site-specific designs showcase their attention to detail and focus on conservation and a sense of place. The firm works closely with a diverse group of clients to create warm and highly personalized spaces while incorporating an element of play and harmony in their designs.



photo_credit Darren Bradley
Darren Bradley

12. Craig Steely Architecture 

Craig Steely is a California and Hawaii-based architect known for creating buildings that blend the characteristics of both environments. His designs prioritize the connection to and separation from the surroundings, while emphasizing the development of a distinct architecture that reflects the context. The firm's active projects are situated in Hawaii, Mexico, and various locations along California's coast. Craig Steely Architecture takes inspiration from classic modernist traditions and collaborates with clients who share the firm's passion for exploring unique sites and creating contextually rooted architecture.



photo_credit Aaron Leitz
Aaron Leitz

13. SB Architects 

SB Architects was founded in San Francisco by Donald Sandy, initially specializing in custom residential architecture. Today, as part of the Egis Group, SB Architects has expanded with offices in Miami and London. The firm strives to create innovative and inspiring hospitality, residential, and mixed-use buildings and spaces around the globe, with a focus on projects that prioritize people, the planet, clients, and communities. SB Architects' main objective is to design meaningful and captivating destinations that enhance the human experience, promote a sense of community, and exceed expectations.



photo_credit Bruce Damonte
Bruce Damonte

14. David Baker Architects 

David Baker Architects (DBA) is a sustainable architecture and urban design firm that focuses on creating mixed-use communities supporting stability and connection. They aim to bring about meaningful change by partnering with clients to develop resilient and human-centred places that uplift communities at all levels. With locations in the San Francisco Bay Area and Birmingham, Alabama, DBA's diverse and collaborative team is dedicated to designing thoughtful places that allow communities to thrive. As a Certified B Corp, JUST 2.0 Label organization, and a signatory of the AIA 2030 Commitment, DBA prioritizes advancing social equity and sustainability in architecture.



photo_credit Craig Scott
Craig Scott

15. IwamotoScott Architecture 

Established in San Francisco in 2002 by Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott, IwamotoScott Architecture is a distinguished and internationally recognized architecture practice. With a focus on innovation, the firm creates original and functional designs at all scales ranging from art installations to visionary cities. Through a process of research and experimentation, IwamotoScott Architecture has honed its designs to ensure engaging and distinctive results. The firm is known for its expertise in digital fabrication, design computation, and materials, and uses this experience to contribute fresh ideas to all projects, regardless of their size or scope. With a collaborative and design-intensive approach, IwamotoScott Architecture is committed to creating exceptional designs by welcoming partnerships, fostering strong project teams, and engaging with client visions.



photo_credit Richard Banes Photography
Richard Banes Photography

16. Schwartz and Architecture 

Schwartz and Architecture is an architecture and interior studio that emphasizes the importance of design in creating meaningful connections between individuals and their surroundings. A close-knit community of leaders and designers who value excellence and share a holistic understanding of design, S^A views design as a process and an adventure, guiding their clients along the way. They carefully select team members and provide mentorship to help build successful careers. The principals took on ownership stakes in the firm in 2021, ensuring a strong and sustainable future for S^A.



photo_credit David Wakely
David Wakely

17. Turnbull Griffin Haesloop

Turnbull Griffin Haesloop, founded by Eric Haesloop and Mary Griffin in 1997, is an architecture firm that emphasizes the uniqueness of each site and client in its designs. With a focus on sustainable and site-sensitive housing, the Berkeley-based studio considers factors such as topography, microclimate, solar orientation, vegetation, water resources, and fire resilience during the site design phase. TGH prioritizes green building principles and chooses building materials that complement the natural surroundings. Their designs often incorporate indoor/outdoor relationships and prioritize details, daylighting, and the craft of building. The firm values its clients’ aspirations and carefully responds to the site to create designs that enhance both the landscape and the inhabitants' lives.



photo_credit Joe Fletcher
Joe Fletcher

18. Garcia Tamjidi Architecture Design 

Garcia Tamjidi Architecture Design is an architecture and design firm that believes in the power of space and its endless potential. They specialize in creating offices, houses, and studios, altering streets, and changing cities. The principals, Michael Garcia and Farid Tamjidi met at the University of California, Berkeley, and have developed a holistic process of research and design. They understand architecture as the production and shaping of space with time, place, form, and material, and their work is a continuation of a century-long conversation about architecture and meaning, metaphor, and shape. Their projects are deep and intimate collaborations, as well as expansive and powerful experiments. The firm offers a range of services, including architecture, interior design, urban planning, landscape design, environmental graphics, and product design.




19. CCS Architecture 

Cass Calder Smith Architecture is a multidisciplinary firm that was established in 1992 by Architect Cass Calder Smith. The firm has four principals, including Barbara Vickroy, Taylor Lawson, and Tim Quayle, and employs a skilled staff of twenty. They have studios located in San Francisco and New York and specialize in designing private residences, hospitality projects, and commercial spaces. The firm believes in creating masterful designs that are unique, relevant, and timeless. They have extensive experience in architecture and interior design and offer comprehensive services to clients ranging from individuals to non-profit organizations. CCS values leadership, listening, innovation, and collaboration to deliver creative solutions and meet the specific needs of each project.



photo_credit Jasper Sanidad
Jasper Sanidad

20. Cary Bernstein 

Cary Bernstein Architect is a firm dedicated to innovation and design that prioritizes craftsmanship, clarity, and light. The firm approaches each project as a unique combination of client and site, ensuring the final solution is unique. They take pride in providing exceptional service to clients throughout the design and construction process and are committed to promoting architectural excellence.



photo_credit Eric Staudenmaier
Eric Staudenmaier

21. HED 

HED is an architectural, engineering, and planning firm operating across the United States. The firm's promise is to create exceptional, sustainable solutions for clients and communities through the collaborative efforts of talented individuals who prioritize critical thinking and design excellence. HED values justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion and celebrates individuality while working together to generate positive impact. The firm's integrated practice involves leveraging the team's expertise comprising individuals with diverse backgrounds, ideas, and experiences to create rich, substantive solutions that captivate the human spirit with measurable results.



photo_credit Jasper Sanidad
Jasper Sanidad

22. Studio Sarah Willmer 

An award-winning architecture and interiors firm based in San Francisco, Studio Sarah Wilmer has been published nationally and internationally. The studio firmly believes in collaboration with the client to create distinct and dynamic design solutions for each project. With simplicity, spaciousness, light, synthesis and function as the foundational principles, each design by the studio is realised with a defined material palette, the place and the craft. Comprising a diverse staff from six continents, the studio offers a unique and exceptional approach to local and global architecture and design.



photo_credit Richard Barnes
Richard Barnes

23. Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc 

Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects is a leading architectural design firm that is transforming the relationships between architecture, housing, and urban areas. Their multi-family projects are renowned for their innovative use of materials, coherent building systems, and site integration. Under the guidance of Stanley Saitowitz, the firm strives to create projects that engage with the context and community through a rigorous exploration of movement and perception.



photo_credit Tim Griffith
Tim Griffith

24. TEF Design

Established in 1997, TEF Design is dedicated to creating flexible, high-performing, and people-centred facilities. The firm is inspired by the challenge of designing projects in a world that is constantly evolving and bases each project on the objectives and principles of its clients as well as the particulars of each site, community, and culture. TEF Design works to create welcoming, affordable, and sustainable solutions that foster community and improve the well-being of those who use them. Through collaboration and genuine inquiry, they aim to understand the human elements that define each project and ensure its enduring significance to the communities it serves.



photo_credit Adam Rouse Photography
Adam Rouse Photography


MHA is an architectural firm that prioritizes an inspiring design that provides a simple background for living through the use of natural light and thoughtful materials. Their design process is methodical and precise, emphasizing specific site and climatic conditions and intricate detailing. The firm's approach, coupled with their commitment to understanding their client's needs and aspirations, guides each project they undertake. In 2018, MHA was recognized by Wallpaper* Magazine's Architects' Directory, with only two American architects selected among the 20 emerging international architects.


The selection curated by the Archello editorial team is based on a mixture of the amount of featured projects and the views they generated.