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Sacramento, CA—Meet Diane Hanamoto, Senior Project Architect in Studio W Architects’ Sacramento Studio. Diane brings 30+ years of architectural experience and a diverse background in municipal, healthcare, commercial and hospitality design. In her time with Studio W, she has been involved with the new $40 million North Natomas Community Center and Aquatics Complex for the City of Sacramento and several educational projects. Learn more about Diane …

What is your hometown, or where do you live currently and what do you like about it?

I was born and raised in Chicago, IL. I moved to Northern CA to finish my college degree at UC Davis. Upon graduation, I moved to Sacramento and never left. What I like about living in Sacramento is seeing the evolution of the City itself. It has grown from a indistinct “State Capitol” to a city that has found its identity in culture, food and architecture.

What is your favorite restaurant or food?

I don’t really have a favorite restaurant or food (I pretty much just enjoy eating!), but I enjoy baking. Right now, I’m trying to figure out the recipe for gluten-free sourdough biscuits.

What is your favorite song, movie or book?

I think the movie that has made the most impact on me is “Avatar” by James Cameron. I think it is the epitome of the effects of colonization.

Who is your hero or a person that inspires you?

Without a doubt, my father. He was born here in California along with his older brother and sister. His parents brought him back to Japan to be raised and educated, and so that he could inherit the family property, but he came back to California on his own by ship in 1935 at the age of 18. He worked in his brother’s fruit orchard in Auburn picking, packaging and selling the produce to make enough money to finish college at USC. He graduated with an engineering degree and was immediately interred at Poston, AZ. He and other engineers designed the infrastructure for the camp prior to occupation. He was released early on the condition he left the West Coast. He contributed to the design on the Tennessee Valley Authority project and eventually ended up working for C.F. Murphy & Associates on some of the major post-modern projects during the 1960’s and 1970’s in Chicago.

What is a typical weekend for you (i.e. what are your hobbies, interests, etc.)?

My weekends are usually filled with fun things like laundry, shopping and domestic errands. I do, however, volunteer as an official for USA Swimming Meets in various positions – starter, meet/deck referee or stroke & turn judge. I also am working towards a degree in Deaf Studies and am trying to master American Sign Language (ASL), which is no easy feat. Surprisingly, learning sign language comes easier that a verbal language for me. Must be because I’m a visual and tactile learner and translating ASL is like speaking Yoda.

How did you find architecture?

Growing up in Chicago with a father who worked for a major contributor to iconic post-modern projects, it was hard NOT to find architecture. Although, architects were not my father’s favorite people because of the structural demands they made during that time.

What is a building and/or destination that inspires you and why?

Most recently, Ireland. The interiors of buildings are functional, but the exteriors are designed to incorporate the environment in which they are located. Architects designing in Dublin have a great sense of re-use and urban infill, while structures designed as visitor centers are designed to enhance the natural attractions of the site instead of taking away from it by forcing the focus on the structure.

What is your most memorable project and why?

Here at Studio W, it has been the North Natomas Community Center and Aquatic Center. Working on developing construction documents and overseeing the construction administration for this project has been a great refresher course in architecture for me because of the challenges it has presented. Outside of Studio W, it was working on developing the prototypes for Starbucks’ first reserve coffee bars. The Cupertino store was designed for the purpose of catering to the new Apple Headquarters. 7th and K Street Reserve Store was the first to incorporate custom merchandising displays and revamped menu items. Both of these were challenging because we were redefining the image Starbucks wanted to present with this higher end store model.

What is your favorite aspect of working at Studio W Architects?

I really enjoy the collaborative atmosphere of the company. It reflects the commitment to provide the very best service to our clients by using past experiences, building on them and making them that much better, whether it’s details or what have you.

What project have you worked on at Studio W that made you grow the most professionally? Why?

Again, the North Natomas Community Center and Aquatic Complex has been the most challenging. I now have a standard from which I can coordinate other construction documents, based on all of the lessons learned from concept to completion.