Staff Spotlight: Sophia Beavis

Q: Where are you from?

I’m from here! I grew up down in Palo Alto, then went to the University of Washington in Seattle for undergrad. I came back to Palo Alto for a year to work in an architecture firm nearby, then moved to Eugene, Oregon and attended the University of Oregon for grad school. After graduating I moved to Tahoe for a year to work at a residential firm, then back to San Francisco where I live now. I like to say I’m from the west coast, although I did study abroad in both Italy and Copenhagen while in school.

Q: Who is in your family?

I have a gigantic family, and it’s really close knit. My immediate family includes my husband Charlie, my brother, parents, and I, but I have 13 cousins and my mom is one of five sisters. There are 29 of us on my mom’s side and we get together at least once a year. Like I said, tight knit. I actually grew up a mile away from my aunt and her family, so I saw my cousins a lot. Charlie’s parents live in Half Moon Bay, so his side of the family is nearby to. I always thought it was nice to have family close by.

In terms of careers, my husband is a special education teacher here in the City, my dad is an engineer of supercomputer architecture and mom is a strategic implementation manager at Wells Fargo. I say she makes processes more efficient– she really likes efficiency. I think that’s where my love of efficiency comes from. My brother also works at Wells Fargo, but he’s a strategy and data analyst for one of their internal groups. He’s a year and half younger than me so we grew up pretty close. We never fought as kids and were always close friends.

Q: Describe your favorite movie or book in a way that would make me want to read/watch it.

Let’s start with my favorite movie. Actually, I don’t know if it’s my favorite, but there’s a story that goes along with it. So I don’t like flying, but I did a lot of it since I went out of state for college. Back in the days before in-flight movies I would keep one movie on my Ipod- Legally Blonde. It’s now become very comforting and I tend to watch it anytime I feel stressed, or anxious. I feel like it’s similar to eating good mac and cheese. Comforting.

Favorite book is harder, I love most of the books that I’ve read. Right now I am loving the Dharma Bums – I love the idea that you can’t fall off a mountain. The biggest problem my husband and I have when we move apartments is the number of books we collectively own.

Q: When did you first develop an interest in architecture?

Architecture has sort of always been in my life, my grandpa was an architect. My cousins and I used to spend chunks of the summer at his house. He’d take us to his office to play with blueprint machines, pencils, and trace. Back then though, I wasn’t really aware of what architects did.

In college I was on the crew team and therefore got priority registration for classes so that they didn’t conflict with our practice times. This meant that I could enroll in difficult to get classes. Freshman year I signed up for art, calculus, and calculus based physics. Sometime during the year my art teacher held check in’s and asked me what I wanted to do. I told her I was thinking about structural engineering, since I like both building and drawing. She asked me if I’d ever considered architecture and that was my light bulb moment. It was when architecture first really entered my radar. The timing worked out too, I transferred into Architecture my spring quarter of freshmen year and started the prerequisites the following fall quarter!

Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?

I had sort of a funny path to get to where I am now. Both my 1st and 2nd jobs were at residential firms, so after working there I thought I should try something else. While working at EHDD in the city, I designed aquariums, schools, student housing– all giant projects. They were so massive that the career path at that firm, to me, was to become a project manager, and that doesn’t necessarily involve a lot of design. I like our projects because you can work both with design and with consultants. You get to wear a lot of hats. I also really enjoy projects that have constraints—like particular quirks of the client.  One fun instance was when we had a client tell us “we want chickens on our roof!”

Q: How long have you worked at FA?

I’ve been here a year and a half now, since September of 2016.

Q: What makes our office unique?

I like our size, we’re not too small or too large, it still feels like a family. We also have a lot of different projects going on at the same time, so lots of interesting things are always going on around the office. Everyone here is really smart and works hard, which I think is pretty unique. Everyone is just good at their job.

Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work?

I love bringing Moo (my dog) to work. Plus, if you couldn’t already tell, I like the people here. I like my projects too. And I don’t get bored.

Q: Do you have a professional role model?

My role model has changed over time, I think that there are a lot of amazing women in architecture, but at the same time, there aren’t. There are a lot of different people I respect but I don’t think any of them are famous. I just have a lot of amazing people in my life.

Q: What’s your design process like?

Sometimes a little schizophrenic, like my brain, but it all comes together. I like to use a lot of tools at once, so I tend to have trace, Sketch Up, Revit and everything else open at the same time. I like to leverage them all together. I’ll zoom out to look at the massing of a building but also focus on the small details. It can seem chaotic since there are so many moving parts, but that’s how my brain works.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years I see myself moving out of San Francisco to somewhere more in nature, raising kids with my husband, working at a firm on the weekdays, and taking the family on adventures on the weekends. I really enjoy being out in nature, especially for running! I like to run really long distances on the weekends. I ran a 50-miler in Marin County one weekend and it took me 11hrs and 22min. We started in Marin and ended it by running across the Golden Gate to Chrissy Field. It was potentially one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also one of the most satisfying. I was laughing and smiling and crying as I crossed the finish line. There were just so many emotions all at once.

Portland in 48 Hours

By Evan McCurdy // Photos by Liza Karimova

Recently, Liza and I spent a short rainy weekend in Portland. Traveling around with a group of 8 friends, we were in search of two things: beer and architecture. In that order. We made the most of our first day in Portland by exploring Kengo Kuma’s pavilions at the newly renovated Japanes Gardens. It was an absolute architectural gem. Soon after, we found ourselves wandering from brewery to Powells bookstore to brewery to Voodoo donuts. We also managed to discover many street murals, food trucks, and coffee shops. Not bad for under 48 hours!


Third Thursday April 2018: Jefferson Mack Metal

By Serena Brown

Asking myself where to properly store a custom fire pick in my apartment was never really a question I’d anticipated asking. However it’s exactly the mental discussion I found myself in after spending an enjoyable and informative evening at Jefferson Mack Metals.

For our most recent Third Thursday, the office was invited to participate in a blacksmithing demonstration with Jefferson in his San Francisco workshop. As a full-time blacksmith, he is dedicated to creating beautiful, unique, honest pieces, rooted in the traditional aspects of metal working. Our experience was equal parts learn by demonstration and learn by doing, as we were able to take part in creating our own metal art with the help of the talented workshop designers.

The evening began with a meet and greet over charcuterie, followed by a quick gallery tour. Jefferson Mack is known for innovative metal design, the more “out-there” the better. The small room was filled with delicate sculptures, wall pieces, and serpentine furniture. Our designers were particularly drawn to an upright pendulum, situated at the front of the garage workspace. As we admired the array of pieces, Jefferson explained the history of his practice and the different collaborations that had occurred over the years. In conjunction with Aaron Gordon Construction Inc., he hosts monthly workshops similar to the one we attended in order to allow suppliers and clients alike to get a taste of the process behind their requested pieces. He’s also worked with various artists and other creatives to forge everything from gazebos to cutlery!

Before beginning the hands-on portion of the evening, Jefferson sat us down for introductions and an explanation of the process. Then, in groups of three we began forging our fire picks. To begin, the steel metal rod was heated in one of their few furnaces to a temperature of about 2246 degrees Fahrenheit. Together with a resident blacksmith, we each hammered the tip to a point, bent it over an anvil at a 90 degree angle, shaped the handle, and added decorative twists.

Since our group was only 10 large, each interaction felt extremely individualized. I was able to spend as much time as I desired hammering, twisting, and perfecting my piece. The atmosphere was lively and comfortable, and not as hot as I’d expected! The entire process took a little over an hour, leaving plenty of time for chatting and refreshments at the conclusion of the evening.

Before departing, we were able to watch Jefferson in action, forging delicate spirals out of the hot metal with seemingly little effort at all. He also passed around a few small pieces from his gallery, and opened the floor to questions. The conversation focused around the history and background of blacksmithing, at what age each artist started, how long an apprenticeship generally lasts, and what metals they typically work with at the shop.

At around 8pm it was time to leave and we were all struck with a similar thought: Would BART or an Uber be a more appropriate mode of transportation home while carrying a newly forged fire pick? We were split on the answer.

Our experience at Jefferson Mack was warm and inviting in more ways than one and a truly beneficial experience to designers and office assistants alike! Now all that’s left is finding a fireplace or planning a company camping trip to use our new tools! We invite you to learn more about their fantastic studio and the craft that they’ve mastered on their website!

Thank you so much for having us Jefferson and we look forward to collaborating with you in the future!

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Staff Spotlight: Humbeen Geo

Q: Where are you from?

I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles. It’s a stereotypical suburb with very little of interest. Though the actual neighborhood was fairly boring, the upside to living there was its central location to both downtown proper and Malibu beach. Everything was a 25-30 minute drive away.

Q: Where did you go to school?

I went to Berkeley, which is when I moved up to the Bay Area. College was a great experience. It was my first time living on my own while meeting a ton of new people. Plus, I loved the food. I actually ended up staying in Berkeley a year after graduation before moving up to San Francisco.

Q: Tell me about your family.

Both my parents emigrated from Korea. My mom stayed at home while my dad was a dental technician/ceramicist. He made dental veneers, which was decently lucrative in LA. Lots of people want nice teeth there.

I have two younger brothers, Humsheen and Humjune (gets confusing, I know). My parents put us in the same group activities when we were younger. I think we all secretly chafed at the same forced interests; we’ve since greatly diverged in our studies and hobbies. Humsheen recently moved up to San Francisco to work in software at Pinterest. Humjune is living in Santa Cruz, but I don’t actually know what he’s doing. Last I heard, he was working at a chocolate confectionary as a baker.

Q: When did you first develop an interest in architecture?

Growing up I had no exposure to architecture. I didn’t know anyone who worked in the industry. When it became time to choose a major for college, I decided on architecture almost on a whim. Therefore, I was thoroughly pleased that I did, in fact, love architecture: the layered scales of design and its applied nature. I liked that there were rigorous problem solving constraints behind the art.

Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?

I’ve enjoyed small scale projects where I can go deep into detailing and idiosyncratic considerations of each client & house. I like staying involved with the interiors, specing fixtures, finishes, and designing casework. I would love to work on a super sustainable house sometime in the future.

Q: How long have you worked at Feldman Architecture?

I’ve worked here since fall of 2013. I was a contractor until becoming full time in 2014. My first job out of college was working as an intern at Steven’s old company. I ended up joining him when he made his transition here.

Q: What makes our office unique?

Well, it’s the only one I’ve been exposed to so far. I’ve heard horror stories from my friends though. Architects may go to school for design, but when they get promoted or start their own business, they suddenly become business managers who lack the fundamentals of running a business. Compared to other places, the fact that we even have staff meetings on Mondays is unique. There is a level of transparency in this office that I greatly appreciate.

Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work?

The people. I’ve been here a really long time so I’ve gotten to know a lot of the team. Everyone here is very easy to work with. The variation of tasks alone makes each day feel different.

Q: Describe your ideal weekend

I’d be camping– either on a road trip or backpacking. Currently, I really want to visit Montana, where I’ve never been. I’ve mostly camped in California, but I recently went on a van trip in the southwest. Every day we went to a different national park, while hiking most of the day. It was pretty perfect.

My favorite place to backpack is the John Muir Trail. My housemate recently did a month long trek from Yosemite to Whitney.

Q: Do you have a professional role model?

I don’t like role models in general, but I have firms that I really like. My current favorite is Snohetta, they’re based in Oslo and New York, but they do have a satellite office in San Francisco during their time working on the SF MOMA addition. I like their portfolio of work. It would be really exciting to design big, public spaces like opera houses and museums. They are a multifaceted design firm, complete with their own branding division.

Q: What’s your design process like?

A lot of iterative sketching. There is a lot of inspiration online. I feel like that could easily turn into a crutch, but reference images and case studies are often very helpful. It’s important to always be cognizant of the site context; we aren’t designing on blank tableaus.

Q: If you could live forever, would you?

You know, there’s a difference between immortality and invulnerability. If I was just immortal, definitely. I think I would explore nature with all my free time. I would never run of out places to explore, even with multiple lifetimes. A lot of the bad rep around immortality comes from people thinking they would get bored. But so much is happening and technology is ramping up! The future is exciting so I’d like to see it.


Filoli Photo Journal

By Liza Karimova

The tour begins! Here we see the front facade of the 1920’s house. It was based on the Muckross house in Ireland, as an attempt by the owner to make their daughter and Irish husband live in America. Only the front 2 columns were made out of marble to cut costs, and all materials are locally sourced. The walls are 4ft thick and hollow in the middle. Fi-lo-li is short for Fight, Love, Live, words that the original owners lived by.

Many of the rooms in the house, just like this one, are replicas of famous libraries and chambers from all around Europe.

The house is known for it’s numerous charcoal portraits by John Singer Sargent.                                             To avoid disturbing the line of sight, the light switches are hidden in the columns!

There are 16 acres of gardens!

Thousands of tulips are planted every year. Right now they are in full bloom.

The garden remains mostly unchanged from what it was in the 1920’s. Except for the addition of an olive tree grove, and some fruit and vegetable species.

Irish yew trees are strategically scattered around the garden to anchor the view.                                                                                          Hairy tulips!

Percy, the only inhabitant of the gardens!

To learn more about Filoli and how to plan your own visit, head on over to their website!

Staff Spotlight: Evan McCurdy

Q: Tell me about your background

E: I grew up in east bay, in Pleasant Hill, CA near Walnut Creek. I went to Diablo Valley College and UC Berkeley. I was at DVC for 3 years, then in 2014 I transferred and finished my last two years at Cal. Ever since I became interested in architecture I was interested in Berkeley; so I made sure I had all my requirements and units lined up then switched.

Q: Who’s in your family?

E: My dad is a contractor, so a lot of my early architecture exposure was hanging out with him on job sites. He still works as a contractor now and sometimes he asks me to do drawings for him. My mom works in the city, for the State Bar of CA. She isn’t an attorney herself, rather she manages an ethics branch for the bar exam for lawyers. She deals with ethics for any attorney that practices law in CA. I guess you could think of it as similar to a building code for architects. I also have a younger brother, seven years younger than me actually, who is still in high school.

Q: When did you first develop an interest in architecture?

E: When I was eleven years old I was given a school project to build a scale model of a house. A lot of people built dollhouse looking things, but my dad suggested that I build a replica of a Don Olsen house instead. I ended up building a scale model of his modern house. All these kids had little McMansion looking things and I came in with a modern glass box.  It was the first architecture project I ever worked on; I remember thinking it was super fun to build and do something architectural hands on. I didn’t really think about it again until applying for college, when I realized I probably wouldn’t become a professional baseball player.

Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?

E: At this point, I don’t think I’m constrained to liking a specific style or type of project. Anything that gives me a unique challenge or a fun puzzle to solve is what I enjoy. I’ve worked on some urban residential, commercial, and houses in rural settings, and they all present interesting design challenges that are fun to attack in their own way.

Q: Are you excited about any projects in particular right now?

E: Right now I’m really excited about the Portola Valley View, which has just gone under construction. It’s a remodel of an existing house in Portola Valley. It’s a cool concrete structure that we’re completely remodeling. I’ve worked on a few projects at Feldman, but this is the first project I’ve worked on from feasibility study through schematic design and its complete construction set.

Q: Do you have any odd pet peeves?

E: This is a tricky one. I feel like I have a lot of pet peeves, I don’t know if they’re odd though. I feel they’re very generic things, like one of my biggest pet peeves is people chewing loudly, or with their mouth open. Nothing else is coming to mind…

Q: How long have you worked at Feldman Architecture?

E: I interned at Feldman three years ago in the summer of 2015. I then finished up my senior year of college and came back to work full time in the summer of 2016. Being an intern meant less responsibility and more fun. I worked on tons of tiny little projects, just doing renderings, models, presentations… you now, just bouncing around. I worked on 15 different projects in the 6-8 weeks I was here! But all tiny little tasks. Now I’m more focused a larger aspects of fewer projects.

Q: What do you think makes our office unique?

E: This is the only real job I’ve ever had and I’ve never worked at another architecture firm, so I have no point of reference. But I think our collaborative culture is exciting, and it’s such a tight knit group of people that are really fun to work with. That, and the fire pole in the middle of the office.

Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work?

E: Dogs.

Q: Do you have a professional role model?

E: I guess my favorite architect is Peter Zumthor. He’s a Swiss modern architect who is extremely good at creating simple, understated, beautiful, buildings without over-designing. I don’t really know how much to say about him, but I think the type of architecture he does responds incredibly well to the environment in very simple and elegant ways. It’s a lot of what I aspire to design. I actually wrote a paper about one of his projects, a little chapel he designed in Germany, when I was a junior in school. He has a skill for making architecture that is considerate and appropriate while still being moving.

Q: What’s your own design process like?

E: I’m a very young architect with very little experience, so I would say it’s constantly evolving and changing. I don’t think I have a specific style or way of designing other than I like to look at each project as a new journey or process. I try to follow a process that allows me to respond to the unique challenges of the client and site; just responding to the environment and in elegant way. It draws from the same exact experiences I was talking about before, with Peter Zumthor. I think having a goal of designing something that’s simple and understated that makes sense for its context is really important. I also really like to look at other professions for inspiration. For example I love looking at artists, comedians, and chefs. I think their approach to the creative process is incredibly interesting. It applies to anything, and all of those professions and their unique processes can all be translated into architecture in some way or another.

Q: If you could switch places with one living person for the day, who would you choose?

E: I suppose Elon Musk. He gets to design things, shoot things into space, think about public infrastructure, influence society, and drive a Tesla.