We are both designers and leaders of the design process; we are advisors, educators, collaborators, and friends. We are a tight-knit collaborative community. Every member of our studio shares a belief in excellence as well as a holistic understanding of good design. We are selective in who joins our team, and mentor our team with the intention that they will build careers with us. In 2021, the principals all took on ownership stakes in the firm, ensuring the health and future of S^A.
We run a tight ship. We are experts in guiding clients through a highly interactive design process tailored to their personalities, resources, and needs. The design, permitting, and construction process can be fraught; our goal is to have it flow as smoothly and efficiently as possible, anticipate risks, and communicate with you clearly and often.
Because we are with you from start to finish, including collaborating with you on all aspects of the architectural and interior design, we are the center point for communication and responsibility throughout the process. In a methodical, analytical, and logical way, we guide you through all decisions on function and use, and all material and finish selections inside and out. We are also adept at managing complex permitting and construction processes and working with fixed schedules and resources. Our goal is to remove stress.
It is our responsibility to guide you through a thoughtful, organized, and interactive design process, in which we jointly discover the best solutions to your needs. As we listen, we also bring our enthusiasm for the process to the table, embracing every opportunity for creative design solutions regardless of budget or constraint. We take pride in our work with you and, hopefully, in surpassing your expectations.
The Founder + Principal, Neal Schwartz, FAIA, is directly engaged with each project through all stages of our work with you. He is always available to you and takes responsibility for every aspect of our studio’s work. In addition, you will come to know other members of our collaborative team well; at a minimum, your project will include a project principal, architect, and/or designer responsible for developing and managing the daily work during all phases.
We pride ourselves on projects that typically stay on schedule and budget. We help you set priorities and evaluate the most strategic use of your resources; we see it as a challenge and responsibility to create great design within any limitations. We will be honest and straightforward if we feel your ambitions exceed your budget and will collaborate with you to bring the two in line at every phase. Our goal is to place you in control of all resource decisions.
We have a strong record of guiding clients through planning and building department review processes. We collaborate actively with neighbors and other constituencies to gather support for your project. Neal has worked in government as an urban planner and has graduate degrees in public policy as well as architecture, which has proven to add a level of strategic insight into these often-complex procedures. His policy work has included being the founding Chair of the AIASF Public Policy and Advocacy Committee (PPAC), which has been at the forefront of advocating for positive change in the San Francisco Planning Department’s residential design review procedures.
Our role is to advocate for your interests at every phase of the project. We have longstanding trusted relationships with contractors, fabricators, consultants, and suppliers, which we gladly share with you. We help you evaluate bids, select your contractor, and monitor your budget and invoicing. We provide construction observation to ensure that what is built is exactly what you had envisioned. We do this by preparing thorough sets of drawings –which minimizes risks, budget increases, and delays once construction begins– and by being on-site regularly until the end.
We are committed to proactively offering our clients a full range of sustainable options for construction methods, materials, finishes and building systems, and are skilled at guiding you through the multitude of choices. We take a holistic view of sustainability and the architect’s role in promoting it. Certainly, product and finish material selection, emerging environmental technologies, and innovative construction techniques play a foundational role –but so too do less-tangible aspects of design. We research the attributes of each site and context, thoughtfully expanding upon them to arrive at forms that work in concert with key sustainability concepts. This includes fundamental choices of building orientation and siting (passive design), as well as more ephemeral qualities of light, view, and movement, which promotes a closer relationship to the natural world, and thus a deeper understanding of our impact on it.