Collaboration: West Coast Style

by Kristy Dutch, January 26, 2013

Rendering of the James R. Herman Cruise Terminal 

None of us is in this alone.  So the saying goes, but in the case of designing the built world it’s particularly true.  Specifically, I’m talking about collaboration.  In the three years I’ve worked with Pfau Long, I’ve come to appreciate just how much the collaborative approach is a worthy endeavor.  There are several reasons for this.  For one, as a firm, we enjoy it.  We feel it results in better design, and Peter takes the lead in this respect: he personally enjoys the process.  Secondly, there is no division of tasks — the collaboration is truly a combined team.  For example, we are working with KMD on the new Cruise Terminal, which is set to open next March.  We went into this project together to produce the design documents, construction documents, permits, build schedule and even the press outreach. 


City College of San Francisco Multi Purpose Building 

The firm has quite a history of collaborative projects.  Among them: the highly successful Multi-Use Building at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) with VBN Architects, which came in early and under budget; the new Sugar Bowl Academy in Lake Tahoe, which we teamed up with Ward & Young of Lafayette, CA, and which is now under construction; and the new Magnes Art Museum in Berkeley where Pfau Long and Pacassa Studios of Oakland created a new home for the Jewish arts and artifacts collection that is now part of the University of California.  Pacassa designed the cabinets and display cases and the building would not be the success it is without their participation from the very start. 


View of the Magnes’ Collection Display Area

There are others, too, including the Grand Canyon Interpretive Center where we teamed the Sibbett Group of Sausalito; and an adaptive re-use for the Presidio Hill School with Kerman Morris Architects. 

I’ve worked with a variety of architecture firms.  In the past, I’ve noticed the larger firm tends to dominate the smaller when it comes to collaboration.  That is not the case with Pfau Long.  When teaming with another firm, regardless of their size, the roles are equaled and balanced.  It makes for a great synergy, and invariably for great, purposeful architecture.  So this blog is one of appreciation…  a shout out to the firms who share our interest in collaboration.  I say a big thank you, and am looking forward to more in the future.  And please keep an eye out for a next blog posting; the topic will be our latest collaborative effort to design and build the new James R. Herman Cruise Terminal in San Francisco.  It’s opening this spring. 

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