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Sacramento, CA—We’re pleased to introduce Rachel Clemente, Senior Associate and Design Leader in our Sacramento Studio, as this month’s Studio W Spotlight team member. Rachel has more than 23 years of experience, offering leadership and influence to the design of several of Studio W’s projects. She establishes design parameters, architectural vocabulary and direction for all of our firm’s projects and brings a broad background in educational, commercial and institutional facilities of all sizes. Most recently, she has led projects such as the Capital College & Career Academy (CCCA) Sacramento Campus, Studio W’s Sacramento Studio Renovation and the Paradise High School Reconstruction.

Rachel loves immersing herself in different cultures through travel, food and art. She is also a talented artist in many avenues. Learn more about Rachel…


What is your hometown, or where do you live currently and what do you like about it?
I currently live in West Sacramento, CA. I love that it is close to downtown Sacramento and to a lot of wineries in the Clarksburg area.

What is your favorite restaurant or food?
My favorite restaurants are Localis and Kru. I love good food and different cuisines. You learn so much about a culture through their food and the ingredients. It’s fascinating.

What is your favorite song, movie or book?
Favorite Song: “You Make Loving Fun” by Fleetwood Mac.
Favorite Book: Griffin and Sabine Trilogy by Nick Bantock. It is a story told through a series of letters and postcards between two main characters named Griffin Moss and Sabine Strohem. Each page is a facsimile of a postcard, or a letter enclosed in an envelope.

Who is your hero or a person that inspires you?
My grandmother. She is just an amazing woman who had to leave everything behind in China during WW2 and had to start fresh in a foreign country that became her new home. Through it all, she remained strong, hardworking and unbroken. She was always elegantly dressed in her amazing cheongsams (Mandarin collared dresses) and was so loving to her children and grandchildren. I loved the stories she would tell me of her life in China. She taught me so much, and I’d like to think that I honor her by the achievements I have reached in life.


What is a typical weekend for you?
A typical weekend for me is hanging out at home with the hubby and kids or having family and friends over to share a meal. I used to host themed dinners, but it’s been a while since I’ve done that. I have lots of interests, but lately it’s been a combination of whiskey and vinyl. Nothing beats drinking whiskey neat with a great record playing in the background.


How did you find architecture?
I come from a family of engineers, doctors and business owners but I really enjoyed the arts. I initially wanted to go into interior design, but after looking into the Architecture Program, I decided to give it a go. It turns out, I had the personality and tenacity for it. The more I was in the Architecture Program in university, the more I loved the balance of the technicality and artistry in architecture. I also think being obsessed with doll houses growing up had something to do with it. I had a doll house that had lights and French doors. I still have it, and I want to “renovate” it one day into a classic Victorian.

What is a building and/or destination that inspires you and why?
Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. I had the privilege of seeing it in person in October 2022 and it was just breathtaking. Gaudi was always interesting to me, and I could never understand his obsession with this project. As I stood in the center of the Sagrada, at that moment, I finally understood and felt the magic.


What is your favorite aspect of working at Studio W Architects?
I like that I am challenged every day with projects and design problems. I like that I am supported with decisions that I make, and I have resources in our firm to help me grow. We have amazing clients that really trust us and return to us. That says something about the firm.

What is your most memorable project and why?
The renovation of Studio W’s new office location at 1930 H Street. The ability to revitalize a corner and a somewhat abandoned building is such a rewarding feeling. I was involved from the planning stages all the way through construction administration and project close-out. There were a lot of moving parts, and a lot of unforeseen conditions that needed design and engineering mitigation. When you have projects like that, it stays with you. I worked with a great team, and we got it done! I am so lucky to be part of the team that made it happen. I met a lot of good people in the industry along the way because of this project. That’s just icing at this point.

What project have you worked on at Studio W that made you grow the most professionally? Why?
The Paradise Unified School District projects. I grew so much by working with this community at the initial stages of design. Professionally, it truly enlightened me and pushed me to go beyond design. You just wanted to help this community get back on their feet, and they sure did! To be able to look at a project through the lens of a community that had nowhere to go but forward is truly inspiring. Personally, it made me grateful for the power of perseverance and grateful for educators and Board members who are so invested in the future of Paradise.