6 Innovative California Architecture Firms

Architecture exists all around us, and depending on how it is executed, it has the potential to influence the way we interact with the environment, the community, and the world at large. Now more than ever before, buildings are being designed to engage with Earth and its inhabitants in a holistic and symbiotic way. Listed in no particular order, the following are some forward-thinking firms that create structures and spaces that are useful not only for our generation, but for those to come.

Frederick Fisher and Partners starts the list off at #1. This firm is passionate about creating spaces that contribute to the arts, education, living, and working sectors. Founded in Los Angeles, and also practicing in New York, its professional team brings an enthusiasm for light, space, and art integration to commercial, cultural, and residential projects around the globe.

This group's practice and philosophy are focused on four pillars: process, context, function, and aesthetics. Its work is influenced by historical and cultural references, local context, projected use, and integrated technology, with an aim of incorporating a sense of environmental stewardship into every project.

The #2 spot goes to PWP Landscape Architecture. Under the leadership of Peter Walker, this firm has developed a design practice that responds to, as well as influences, its environment. For over 30 years, its partners, associates, and staff have brought a range of interests and expertise together around their shared ambition to create legible, beautiful, and enduring places.

PWP's mission is to construct landscapes that refine, engage, and sustain both nature and culture. The company's design process combines historical context with contemporary innovations in technology. To address the challenges of each project, and to push boundaries, the team interchanges with clients, architects, and a diverse group of consultants to produce unique landscape architecture solutions.

Moving on, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects is #3 on the list. Located in San Francisco, it is the 2017 National AIA Architecture Firm Award recipient. The professionals at this firm are devoted to the creation of innovative, mission-driven, and sustainable architecture that leads the way to a just, healthy, and regenerative future for all.

LMSA works on a variety of social and environmental projects that include but are not limited to: affordable and special needs housing, educational institutions, adaptive re-use spaces, and historic rehabilitation. Through the application of appropriate materials, building technologies, and renewable energy resources, this firm provides its clients with spaces that promote eco-literacy and foster environmental stewardship on a daily basis.

Next, at #4, Architectural Resources Group was founded in 1980, and since then, has developed into a community of architects, planners, and conservators who believe in the value that history adds to modern life. The company's work goes beyond the design of iconic buildings, as it was the first firm of its kind to have an in-house laboratory, and to integrate architectural conservation into the practice of historic preservation.

Headquartered in San Francisco, ARG has additional offices in Los Angeles, California and Portland, Oregon. In 2006, the American Institute of Architects California Council awarded ARG Firm of the Year, the highest honor AIACC bestows on an architecture firm.

Feldman Architecture, which is #5 on the list, is a residential and commercial design practice recognized for creating warm, light-filled spaces that are site-sensitive and carefully detailed. Dedicated to crafting buildings that sit gracefully and lightly on the earth, the firm seeks to design areas that enhance the lives of clients, the community, and the environment.

This group takes seriously its obligations and opportunities as architects to respect, and even restore, the natural environment. Drawing upon past wisdom as well as contemporary building science, the team aspires to create structures that conserve resources, and that move architecture to be more ecologically and ethically responsible.

Ending the list at #6, CMG works to increase social and ecological well-being through artful design. This firm partners with neighborhood councils, local governments, park conservancies, institutions, and developers to create landscapes that improve the community and the environment. For example, to address the effects of climate change, the group implemented sea-level rise strategies on waterfront parks and drought-tolerant landscapes throughout California.

From libraries, corporate spaces, and outdoor parks to plazas and community centers, CMG has worked on a wide range of initiatives, project scales, and design types. With utility and aesthetics as drivers, the overarching goal of each design is to promote ecological function and the democracy of public space.