Cutting Edge Firms in San Francisco...Where are they?


I am looking for a small to midsize firm to apply to in San Francisco that is fresh, new and does not use sketchup...or watercolor rendering.  You might call me a snob but come on Its the 2014 people, why is this still happening?  The majority of portfolios I see are early 2000's style adobe flash websites with the cheesiest sketchup renderings of typical plazas and sketchup style box homes.  Is it just me that dislikes this terrible trend?  I'm no technologist, but I can't stand it when ANY software dictates a design process of outcome.  

Any suggestions?  


Apr 16, 14 1:17 pm
Non Sequitur

Have fun getting chewed-up by the real world.

Apr 16, 14 4:13 pm


Apr 16, 14 4:32 pm

They all moved to Oakland.

Apr 16, 14 4:58 pm

I'm sorry but I don't think there are any "cutting edge" firms in the Bay Area. You need to venture south to Los Angeles for that. 

Apr 16, 14 5:50 pm

Ha that's so true , even in the Pacific Northwest , all boxy sketch up stuff , still stuck in the Stone Age. La and Ny is where it's at 

Apr 17, 14 12:02 am

real world?  haha... if you're OK with the garbage that's being pumped out today in the more conservative parts of the american architectural world, then the jokes on'll end up pushing the same stuff that you hated when you were in school.

don't let the software dictate what you wanna do...especially one as inferior as sketchup.

I was hoping that SF out of all places would be a little bit more forward thinking.  NYC for another summer it might be.

Apr 18, 14 1:57 am

go become Zaha's bitch

Apr 18, 14 2:09 am

le Courvoisier, I think you have a good point that is being dismissed so ignorantly.  why is it that so many firms use a free/cheap 3d modeling software that does produce garbage?  why is that okay with people?  and why is it that practice is so slow to change?  what we do in academia; learning more advanced and sophisticated modeling software, construction, and fabrication methods/processes can increase the quality of buildings, the environment, and our landscapes, yet as you put it garbage is still being pumped out.  how can you transform the design quality and culture at your office? 

Apr 18, 14 10:47 pm

90% of what humans produce is garbage. Why should architecture be any different? It isn't the software, it's clients who only care about the bottom line, designers who mistake the early adoption of fads for innovation, and shitty mass produced materials. And the folks who think that they are cutting edge are even worse- ridiculous snobs who are more interested in what will photograph well than in actually making spaces that people can use.

"don't let the software dictate what you wanna do"

Forget the idea that you might actually have agency. Accept your status as a cog in the machine, shut up, and get those details cranked out. Who cares if your firm is churning out trash as long as you can keep your head above water. Pay off the student loans, the mortgage, and put your kids through school so they can do something as devoid of meaning as your career will be.

Or, maybe you'll get lucky and be one of the few who actually gets to participate in the construction of something worthwhile. Probably not, though.

Apr 19, 14 12:00 am

come on though dude.  I'm not talking about flashy starchitect designs.  I don't care about that stuff.  But if you think about the way that most firms today still operate under an outdated 90's 2D CAD paradigm and how much TIME and MONEY it takes to make design changes in CDs when it is already too late, then why doesn't it make sense to do something else?

Look at some of the best firms like KPF, Shop, Ennead etc....mostly in NYC.  Those guys are doing something right.  Look at the process that they have set up, and tell me that you are not jealous.  

What you are saying anonitect is exactly proving my point.  The reason why we all have to keep our heads above water and can't get paid enough is because we are still part of a construction process that is outdated.  Think about in the 80's and 90's how autocad first took off and how a room of 20 hand-drafters on a project turned into a group of 10 (maybe less).  Now, BIM is the next thing and it will further shrink those the designer more power albeit in less numbers.  

whatever, you can find this argument somewhere else on archinect, I gotta go.

Apr 19, 14 12:42 pm

You got to have thicker skin than this to stay in this business! If you think this is tough, go hang out with a contractor on a job site...

Anyways, to answer your question, most people here are correct, there is a larger critical mass of "cutting edge" firms in LA, than in SF. I think it is mostly because there is, frankly no cutting edge school of architecture in SF. In LA, you have UCLA, Sciarc, USC, Woodbury, Pomona (though not all are as cutting edge).

SF has somehow always stuck me as a place to go to learn about more "corporate" architecture, though some of it is fun too.

Apr 20, 14 12:51 am

Le Courvoisier,

I think some of the commentators on this list might have found your comments slightly awkward and possible naive, especially since it sounds like you want to work in SF but favor the NY-LA architectural nexus. People bandy about this term of being "Cutting edge" in architecture, especially straight out of school, and I can assure you that down the road your views will change, especially as you learn the more technical and cultural side of construction, Or that many firms have different values then getting published or experimenting with material fads. A lot of what is "cutting edge" will literally be junk in 10-15 years. BIM modeling and software will continue to shape architecture practice, and there are some opportunities to 'reclaim' a greater decision making role in design and construction. However, legal and cost issues tend to make this all but impossible. 

I would suggest LA if you are looking to move West but I also think if you get out there and work a bit in SF you will find a number of decent firms to work for. 

Apr 20, 14 2:41 am
Non Sequitur

Jayness, bingo on the naive point.

Apr 20, 14 10:58 am

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