A mid-sized, woman-led firm, Gelfand Partners Architects has a diverse perspective and a humane approach to architecture. A full-service outfit that includes architecture, landscape architecture, and interiors, our experienced and talented designers have spent decades bringing sustainable, affordable, and practical solutions to schools, housing, community facilities, and commercial space, both for new and existing buildings.
Here’s something to think about: The majority of buildings that are going to be occupied in the next 30 years already exist. Gelfand Partners Architects breathes new life into old buildings. Whether they’re aging public schools or housing, historic landmarks, or are just beautiful old buildings, we can enhance qualities often missing in today’s construction, while meeting the needs of the modern age. A reimagined renovation treads lightly on the planet, takes advantage of reclaimed and recycled materials, and is ground zero for how we think about reusing buildings and resources, now and in the future.
Our belief is simple: Make healthy, green buildings that bring in fresh air and daylight where people live, work, and learn. In every project, we find ways to use eco-friendly materials like responsibly harvested wood, recycled glass tile, and healthy carpets. And we devise innovative solutions to incorporate natural light and energy-saving systems, such as automatic-opening windows that keep the climate naturally cool. This gives practical benefits such as saving thousands of dollars on utility bills. And it leads to better living and learning environments for residents and students. In fact, studies have shown that classrooms with natural light lead to faster learning. In short, sustainable design is a better, smarter, healthier way to build.
At Gelfand Partners Architects, we approach design a little differently. We started years ago from the idea that we wanted to make healthier, more affordable, more stimulating design. We believe in doing sustainable architecture because it makes the buildings work better, from natural daylight, to fresh air, to green materials. We listen to community stakeholders to ensure we make a positive impact through our work. Put simply, good design makes you feel better. It’s not just social responsibility. It’s common sense. It’s impact by design.
The numbers tell the story so far: 62 housing communities that include 6,735 single and family residences, and 48 school communities that brought new and renovated classrooms to 23,100 students. More than that, we’ve successfully demonstrated through multiple projects from conception to ribbon cutting, that highly sustainable design can be achieved on time, and within budget. The innovative and cost-cutting options give operational and environmental savings for the life of the building. Smart, sustainable design is an attainable, practical, and affordable solution that Gelfand Partners Architects has, for the last 22 years, delivered.
renovated a turn-of-the-century landmark building in San Francisco into Kelly Cullen Community – a modern housing project that offers 172 units with state-of-the-art sustainable systems. Looking at the exterior, one would hardly assume that the building boasts a broad range of sustainable strategies…
A Force for Good
Gelfand Partners Architects is one of just 12 architecture firms in the United States to become a Certified B Corporation, and one of just 4 in California. B Corporations are for-profit companies that believe businesses can be a force for good while also doing well. We became a B Corp to join a global community of like-minded enterprises that spread the word about social engagement, sustainability, and responsible business practices. In addition to the bottom line, we measure what matters by our impact on the social good.
Measure your company with the free B Impact Assessment.
Just & Equitable
A nutrition label for socially just and equitable organizations, the JUST program is a voluntary disclosure tool. JUST is not a certification program, it’s a transparency platform for organizations to disclose their operations, including how they treat their employees and where they make financial and community investments. Gelfand Partners Architects is proud to have achieved the JUST Label from the Living Future Institute.
Gelfand Partners Architects has been named a San Francisco Green Business by the City of San Francisco. Our in-office, green-friendly practices include recycling, composting, use of energy-efficient lighting and water-saving appliances, and choosing Energy Star equipment. We always encourage our employees to take public transit, bike, or walk to work when possible, and operate a hybrid electric company car. Come visit us and check out our living wall!
Our committed and multi-dimensional team of architects, designers, and staff all share a vision: We are passionate about bringing positive change for people and the planet through transformative design. Meet the people who make Gelfand Partners Architects an award-winning, creative place to work.
Principal - FAIA, LEED AP
Lisa has over 42 years of experience and is the managing principal of Gelfand Partners Architects, where she has designed or supervised the design of over 49 education projects and 6735 units of affordable housing. She has served on the Green Committee of the Advisory Board to California’s Division of the State Architect (DSA). Lisa has taught and lectured at universities in New Zealand, California and Utah, and is the author of Sustainable School Architecture and co-author of Sustainable Renovation.
Principal - AIA, LEED AP
Chris has over 30 years of experience and is a principal and senior staff manager at Gelfand Partners. His duties include project management, design, marketing, and staff management. He has managed projects through all phases, and has special expertise in educational and residential design, particularly the modernization of early 20th century buildings. He has served on the Technical Committee of the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), and is the co-author of Sustainable Renovation.
Principal - AIA, ASLA, LEED AP
Larry is an architect and landscape architect with over 26 years of design experience, including 21 in architecture and 5 in landscape architecture, including working for the Office of Lawrence Halprin. He joined Gelfand Partners in 2002, was appointed an associate in 2005 and became a principal in 2007. Larry‘s duties include project management, design, construction documents and construction administration. He has been project architect on several award winning projects, and is experienced in campus design for complex projects.
Principal - AIA, LEED AP, DBIA
Mary is an architect who brings a swiss army knife skillset in educational planning, design, construction, project management, firm leadership and mentoring experience with over 24 years of professional architectural practice and expertise, specializing in California K-12 projects. She is passionate about providing innovative, sustainably responsible, high performance and integrated educational environments that elevate and enhance user engagement and maximize educational and community outcomes. Mary rejoins Gelfand Partners as a Principal in 2020 having worked with GPA from 2000–2005.
Principal Emeritus - AIA
Jim has over 37 years of experience and is a Principal Emeritus of Gelfand Partners. Jim’s experience includes 20 years of multifamily housing, community and service-oriented facilities, and clinic and commercial space design and construction. He thoroughly understands the SF Planning and Building Departments’ codes and processes, and the requirements of the SF Mayor’s Office of Disability, SF Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, SF Seismic Loan Program, building codes in various Bay Area cities and FEMA funding.
Principal Emeritus - AIA, LEED AP
Tobin has over 37 years of experience, specializing in public and private school work throughout his career. He has been project manager for numerous jobs that he managed through to completion. Before joining Gelfand Partners in 2006, he served 6.5 years as Associate Director of Facilities Planning at City College of San Francisco. He has extensive knowledge of budgeting, project and construction management, and State funding of public schools.
Cheryl Cheu, LEED AP
Austen Diliberto, AIA, LEED AP, Associate
Patty Haight, AIA, LEED GA, Associate
Katie Larson, Associate
Jonathan Ott, LEED GA
Avni Shah, AIA, LEED GA
Yvan Tran, LEED GA
Bigbin Zhou, LEED AP BD+C
Sandra Kovtun, LEED GA –
Office Manager & Human Resources
Maighan O’Brien Perry – Accounting
Ken Rackow, LEED AP, Associate –
Do you yearn to make a difference with design? We’re looking for talented architects and designers who care about the values of sustainable design to join our mid-sized architecture firm. Work here, and benefit from our strong commitment to the studio system, where a team takes on a project from concept to completion.
We like to have fun, too. In addition to doing some cool volunteer projects over the years, such as Park(ing) Day, Leap Sandcastle Competition, and even a doll house design fundraiser, the Gelfand Partners pack also participates in some serious play time. You’ll find us clocking out for regular happy hours, heading to the Russian River for an annual canoe trip and picnic, and a yearly ski weekend.
You must have a professional degree in Architecture. Strong technical skills in Revit are important. California license, LEED AP or LEED GA is a plus. Full-time employees receive full benefits plus an annual allowance for professional development, including the Architect Registration Exams, and opportunities for advancement. Apply online only. Send your resume and work samples to firstname.lastname@example.org.