Leif Estrada

Leif Estrada

Cambridge, MA, US



Leif Estrada is an emerging award-winning artist and designer, who recently completed his Bachelor of Architecture degree in Architecture with High Distinction (equivalent to Summa Cum Laude) from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco.  He is a dual-degree candidate for a post-professional Master in Design Studies degree with a concentration on Urbanism, Landscape, and Ecology and an incoming Master of Landscape Architecture (with advanced-standing) at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.

Born in a provincial town in the Philippines to a clan of artists, and growing up on the beautiful island of Maui, Leif attended CCA with the hopes of studying Fine Arts; however after a serendipitous event of signing up for an architecture elective class, he fell in love with the idea of space-making and being able to influence the people, who use and thrive in those designed spaces.

During his five years at CCA, Leif was not only actively involved in his design practicum (having studied design in abroad studios, including in Athens, Paris and Venice; collaborated with a local San Francisco design firm: Visible Research Office, and international landscape architecture firm: SWA Group), but was also heavily involved in extra curricular activities including his membership in the Cossutius Chapter of the Alpha Rho Chi fraternity (in which he was elected as Chapter Secretary and Chapter President, and appointed as Fundraising Chair and Pledge Educator).  During his term as Chapter President, he developed a close professional network with the Bay Area Young Architects, which enabled the Chapter to host a school-wide Mixer and Networking event.

He was also a member of the the school’s AIAS chapter, participated in a group Honors Critique Program, and served as a mentor in CCA’s Architecture Mentorship Program.  Not only was he active with the school curricular activities but was also a constant volunteer in the community including in the Habitat for Humanity, Equality California and at the SF Food Bank.

Most recently he has been selected as the sole American representative to join the Venice Architectural Association at the Universitá IUAV di Venezia on their 2nd Annual “Tall on the Water” international competition, for which his group’s skyscraper design was selected and was highly-commended, most notably by SOM.  His group’s design; symTEC, will be exhibited at the prestigious Biennale di Venezia di Architettura.

His dedication to academics and school curricular programs have earned him awards, including:

Ayala + Eugenio Lopez Scholarship Fund; 2014

Peter Brooks SaltonStall '43 Memorial Fund; 2014

American Institute of Architects Scholar- National and Maui Chapter; 2013

Universitá IUAV di Venezia’s Venice Architectural Association ”Tall on the Water” International Competition: Selected Project; 2012

American Institute of Architects-San Francisco Design Awards: Unbuilt Category, Citation Award for Peel 27; 2012

California College of the Arts Excellence in Leadership Award; 2012

California College of the Arts Community Service Award; 2012

California College of the Arts Creative Achievement Award; 2007-2012

California College of the Arts Diversity Scholar; 2007-2012

California College of the Arts Scholar; 2007-2012

Carmen Christensen Endowed Scholar; 2008-2011

Jury Prize Nomination for Architecture Studio 2 Project; 2009

American Institute of Architects Scholar- National and Maui Chapter; 2008

CCA All College Honors; 2008

Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce Scholar; 2007

Just as he’s accomplished in his academic studies, so was he with his artistic talent, having exhibited on Maui, San Francisco, New York and in Venice’s prestigious la Biennale di Venezia di Architecttura.  His self-portrait piece, entitled “Starving Artist,” was highly praised at the 2007 Celebrating the Artist in Us Exhibition at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, which was later used for the Center’s magazine cover.  Competing in the state and national level; he received the Region-at-Large Award and Gold Key Award from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards in New York.

His awards in the finer arts include:

Lahaina Art Scociety Scholar; 2007

Art Maui Scholar; 2007

Scholastic Art and Writing Award (Region-at-Large and Gold Key) for Dots Me; 2007

Kaha Ki’i: Hawai’i Congressional Art (Third Place) for The Shaved Ice Man; 2006

82nd Maui County Fair: Art Competition (Best in Show) for Fragile; 2004

Na Mele O Maui (First Place) for Untitled work; 2003

*Links to external websites are hyperlinked.



Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, US, Research Assistant

Research Assistantship

Oct 2013 - current

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, US, Summer Teaching Fellow

Jun 2014 - Aug 2014

Boston Architectural College (BAC), Boston, MA, US, Teaching Fellow

Jun 2014 - Jul 2014

GYA Architects, Wailuku, HI, US, Designer

Sep 2012 - Aug 2013

Architecture For Humanity, Haiti, Volunteer Designer

May 2013 - May 2013

SWA Group, Sausalito, CA, US, Intern

Jan 2012 - Apr 2012

Visible Research Office, San Francisco, CA, US, Model-maker

Jun 2009 - Sep 2009


Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, US, Masters, MLA I AP

Incoming Master of Landscape Architecture candidate with advanced standing

Jan 2014 - current

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, US, Masters, MDesS

Master in Design Studies with a concentration on Urbanism, Landscape and Ecology

Sep 2013 - current

Università IUAV di Venezia, Venice, Italy, International Skyscraper Design Competition

Selected as a sole American candidate to compete in Universitá IUAV di Venezia's Venice Architectural Association's 2nd annual "Tall on the Water," for which we were selected and was highly-commended by SOM.

Jul 2012 - Jul 2012

California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA, US, BArch, Architecture

Bachelor of Architecture with High Distinction

Aug 2007 - May 2012

Résidences Internationales aux Récollets, Paris, France, Urban Analysis and Design

"Biometric City," observing and analyzing ways to instigate within the local Parisian urban fabric through design exercises with the Résidences Internationales aux Récollets.

Jul 2011 - Jul 2011


Howard T Fisher Prize - Harvard University, Award

Howard T. Fisher Prize in GIS: The Fisher Prize was established in 1999 to promote and reward student work in this broad and potentially interdisciplinary area, from both undergraduate and graduate students at Harvard University. Howard Taylor Fisher, geographer and mathematical cartographer, founded the Laboratory for Computer Graphics and Spatial Analysis (LCGSA) at the GSD in 1965 where he developed the synegraphic mapping system (SYMAP). The prize is jointly administered by the Center for Geographic Analysis (CGA) and the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), funded by a gift from Jack Dangermond (MLA 1969), President of Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) Inc., the world leading company in GIS (geographic information system) modeling and mapping software and technology. The Technical Advisory Committee for CGA, chaired by Dr. Stephen Ervin, Assistant Dean of the GSD, oversees the award process each year.


National Geographic Award for Mapping, Honorable Mention

The award is administered through the Association of American Geographers (AAG) Cartography Specialty Group (CSG). Judging was by the National Geographic Award in Mapping committee of the AAG/CSG and was based on the technical, aesthetic, and overall quality of the submission.


Citation Award at the 2012 AIASF Design Awards, Award

American Institute of Architects-San Francisco Design Awards: Unbuilt Category, Citation Award for Peel 27; 2012


AIA Henry Adams Medal and Certificate, Award

Awarded to the highest-ranking graduating Senior for excellence in the study of architecture, who showed a promise and potential to the profession and practice of architecture.


Areas of Specialization