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Sacramento, CA—Brian Whitmore, Studio W’s President & CEO, may not need a formal introduction, but for this month’s spotlight, we are getting to know Brian on a personal level. With 25 years of experience, Brian has spent his career focusing on public works, educational and commercial architecture, while deeply embedding himself into his community by holding several leadership positions over the years, including AIA Central Valley Chapter President and City of Rocklin Planning Commissioner, as well as serving as a Board Member for Roseville Chamber of Commerce, the California Auto Museum and RECON. A few of Brian’s notable projects with Studio W include The Bayshore School for Bayshore Elementary School District, Paradise High School Reconstruction for Paradise Unified School District, North Natomas Community Center & Aquatics Complex for the City of Sacramento and Sowers Middle School Reconstruction for Huntington Beach City School District.

Brian enjoys spicy food, fast cars, and likes to rock out to Guns N’ Roses. Learn more about Brian…


What is your hometown, or where do you live currently and what do you like about it?
I was born in the California Bay Area (Redwood City, CA) but my family moved to Auburn, CA when I was 4 years old. My father was a California Highway Patrol officer and he transferred to the Auburn area to fulfill the later part of his career, so I grew up in the foothills of Placer County, where I still reside with my family today. I could live anywhere, but I consider Placer County to be one of the greatest places in California for its weather, family-oriented culture and great recreational opportunities.

What is your favorite restaurant or food?
I like spicy food, which makes sense because I also like spicy people and spicy places. Life is too short not to take some risks when it comes to trying new things and I am always open to culinary experiences, particularly if they are operated by a business owner that lives by the same motto. I really like places like Mikuni and Moksa. The best restaurants and bars usually have something interesting to indulge in and a great leader that was inspired to put that menu out there.

What is your favorite song, movie or book?
When it comes to music, I like all kinds, but in particular great rock bands like Guns N’ Roses. I have a deep appreciation for anyone with a God-given talent, and you know you are in the presence of greatness when you hear Slash play the timeless solo of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” on guitar. It is the greatest of all love songs ever written, in my opinion.

Who is your hero or a person that inspires you?
I can only imagine what it would have been like to experience a world war or grow up in the Great Depression. Only because of the sacrifices of those people are we able to live in a world that has peace and financial solvency. Therefore, my heroes are anyone who has had to give selflessly of their love, time and hard-earned finances to make a better life for others. I think of my paternal grandmother, who could have spent any part of her life traveling the world or indulging in experiences, chose instead to give the shirt off her back to her children and grandchildren. I hope I can do the same after my hard work is done.

What is a typical weekend for you?
If I am not spending time with family and friends, I am most likely to be found under the hood of one my cars in my garage. If it has an engine, wheels and is fast or loud, there is a very good chance I like it. I have an even greater interest in making it my own by enhancing it cosmetically or functionally, or both.

How did you find architecture?
I am very artistically gifted, and from a very young age I learned that I was skilled at drawing and painting. A high school art teacher recommended I pursue a career in art, but I believed that my career should not just fulfill me, but fulfill the community around me. Architecture was a natural fit because it enabled me to pursue my artistic abilities while at the same time engaging and making the communities better.

What is a building and/or destination that inspires you and why?
I am generally inspired by design of all kinds, not just architecture. This includes nature, industrial design and even fashion. But perhaps, I am most inspired by automotive design. As such, the vibrant colors and inspiring forms inherent in Studio W designs are inspired by the great automotive design houses like Pininfarina, Gruppo Bertone or Zagato.

What is your favorite aspect of working at Studio W Architects?
We have an incredibly dedicated team and wonderful clients that make for a uniquely successful company. But, in particular, I’m proud that we have proven we can provide top-notch design balanced with agility, responsiveness and great service. I had a mentor once say “clients want good design.” Actually, clients want value. They want a quality design solution and professional service, and if we can go above and beyond that design solution by bringing good value, then we exceed their expectations and hopefully form a lasting partnership.

What is your most memorable project and why?
I am lucky to have many memorable projects over what is now a 25-year career in architecture. I have designed many iconic projects, including the Benvenuti Performing Arts Center and the North Natomas Community Center and Aquatics Complex, but if I had to decide what might be the most memorable project it would be the collection of projects ongoing for Paradise Unified School District. Very rarely do we get the opportunity to work with a community that is in as much need, but is as appreciative as Paradise USD. They are creating a new generation of facilities meant to attract families back to that region and are creating spaces that will inherently inspire students for many generations to come.


What project have you worked on at Studio W that made you grow the most professionally? Why?
Not every project can be smooth, and some have challenging problems or challenging timelines to work with. I consider challenges to be opportunities to grow and learn. As it is in the most challenging situations that we find the most resiliency. A good example is our work for Huntington Beach City School District where we are currently under construction for one of the largest and most complex projects in our 34 year history—a $54 million replacement of an old, windowless facility at Sowers Middle School. In every aspect there was a challenge, whether it be the budget, schedule or the soils conditions that mandated 300+ drilled piers. Studio W and the District were resilient in our efforts to replace the school (versus modernizing it), and were able to demonstrate there was greater value in doing so to the Board of Trustees and community. They ultimately agreed and it is proving to be a win-win, not just for the community of Huntington Beach, but for all those involved.