Sacramento, CA—We’re pleased to introduce Chris Garcia, AIA, Senior Project Manager in our Sacramento Studio. Chris’ 18-year career has focused nearly exclusively on K-12 education architecture. From California Building Code knowledge, understanding the expectations of approval agencies and team oversight to conflict resolution and thorough communication, Chris is skilled at managing all aspects of public school projects of all sizes and scopes. Over the past three years at Studio W Architects, he has been integral to the success of projects with Natomas Unified School District – Jefferson School Modernization and K-8 Conversions at Three Campuses – as well as the San Juan Unified School District’s Stadium Concessions, Restrooms and Ticket Facilities at Six High Schools. Learn more about Chris …
What is your hometown, or where do you live currently and what do you like about it?
I have bounced around a bit. I was born in Oceanside, CA and raised in New England. I went through school in central Massachusetts and attended college in Rhode Island. From there, I moved back to North County San Diego, where I lived for about 12 years. I now live here in Sacramento, CA. It has been great to experience both the east and west coast, to have a wide variety of experiences in cultures and regions.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
I am going to have to say Mexican food would have to be my favorite. Who can dispute a good taco?! I also enjoy the holidays when I put my family to work making tamales at home.
What is your favorite song, movie or book?
“Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley and the Wailers has a special place in my heart. It reminds me of my family, as we would sing this song to our children when they were babies to calm them down. Though sometimes easier said than done, the lyrics ‘don’t worry about a thing, because every little thing, is gonna be alright’ has always brought me comfort.
Who is your hero or a person that inspires you?
I have always been inspired by Bruce Lee. To see him focus on martial arts to better oneself with a healthy lifestyle in mind, body, and spirit is motivational.
“The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus.”
What is a typical weekend for you (i.e. what are your hobbies, interests, etc.)?
Recently our family’s weekends have consisted of a weekly trip to Tahoe for skiing and snowboarding. I have always been in love with the outdoors, mountains and snowboarding. I am grateful now I can share that with my wife, daughter and son.
How did you find architecture?
I grew up in a family with several contractors. I was essentially raised on a job site and spent summers helping my dad and grandfather. I also had some family members who were artistically talented with a passion of painting. I felt that I possessed a unique blend of inclination towards both arts and science.
If you ask my mother, I knew I wanted to be an architect since I was five years old. I recall taking an aptitude test in middle school which predicted I would excel as an architect or engineer. From that day, I knew I wanted to be an architect.
What is a building and/or destination that inspires you and why?
The Boston Public Library is a very special and inspiring place for me. Attending college in New England there were frequent field trips to Boston, and I would always make time to visit the library. This is a McKim, Mead, and White building, completed in 1895, inspired by the Biblioteque Sainte-Genvieve in Paris. At a time when I was studying architectural history, I grew to love this building, and its inspiration from antiquity. The barrel vault coffered ceilings covering research tables creates a beautiful space for learning.
What is your most memorable project and why?
While in San Diego, I was the project manager for a K-8 Spanish Immersion School. This special curriculum gave way to artistic license for Latin flair. The school site, community and school district really embraced our ideas to celebrate Latin culture. This allowed us to use vibrant colors and introduce unique materials, such as talavera tile as an accent and abstracted the patterns in waterjet cut panels as guardrails throughout the site. The details were challenging to execute but rewarding to see their successful implementation. The play of light through the patterns in the panels created beautiful projection of shadows.
What is your favorite aspect of working at Studio W Architects?
In short, the challenge. I feel our office operates efficiently and we lean on each other for support. We are a team of hard workers who pride ourselves on providing beautiful designs and executing them very well. I am proud to be a member of Studio W Architects who learns from our leadership and strives to mentor our staff.
What project have you worked on at Studio W that made you grow the most professionally? Why?
The K8 Conversions of three elementary schools for Natomas Unified School District have made me grow professionally. This is a large project with a site adapt to bring three multipurpose buildings, two classroom building, track & fields facilities and site work to each site.
The project had a short schedule which really required our office and our consultants to work quickly and efficiently. We really focused on getting the plan layouts complete early in design development to eliminate the potential for design changes down the line. This proved crucial as we moved through construction documents.
We were able to gain DSA approval and move into construction in March of 2020. Two of the three projects were back checked remotely as shelter-in-place orders were in effect. We were able to overcome these challenges with a great contractor and are currently working on the completion of these three projects.