Located just outside of San Francisco and Contra Costa County, Walnut Creek is considered to be one of California’s most vibrant cities. Its downtown area is a mix of high-end establishments and several hundred-year-old buildings.

Our editorial team compiled a list containing eight of Walnut Creek’s leading commercial architects behind some of the city’s best spaces. Each firm has extensive experience, great portfolios, and multiple accolades. 

Lowney Architecture

360 17th St., Ste. 200, Oakland, CA 94612

Lowney Architecture, located in Oakland, offers a complete and comprehensive range of architectural services. They specialize in multi-family, modular, commercial, and hospitality projects. The firm is led by founder and president, Ken Lowney. He holds a Master’s in Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture and established Lowney Architecture in 2003. Under his leadership, the company has earned acclaim for their grocery store and modular multi-family housing designs. Lowney also serves as a member of the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Small Scale Development Council and the International Council of Shopping Centers’s (ICSC) Northern California Program Committee.  

Lowney Architecture received various distinctions from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and they won several Gold Nugget Awards. Depicted above is one of the firm’s best work. Completed for The Pruneyard, this project can be found in Campbell and was a mixed-use project that includes a shopping center and office buildings.

Swatt | Miers Architects

5845 Doyle St., Ste. 104, Emeryville, CA 94608

Swatt Miers Architects is an award-winning firm in Emeryville. They have completed projects throughout the West Coast, Hawaii, and Colorado, as well as Canada, Spain, and India. The firm specializes in modern architectural themes and is known for their stellar commercial and residential spaces. They often employ open floor plans and craft highly customized spaces tailored to fit a clients’ special needs. 

Completed for Levi Strauss, this project is only one out of the company’s several projects for the brand. For this space, the company worked on several showrooms. It also employed classic materials and several of Levi Strauss’ timeless themes. 

Robert Nebolon Architects

801 Camelia St., Ste. E., Berkeley CA 94710

Founded in 1993, Robert Nebolon Architects services the Bay Area. The firm specializes in commercial, residential, and landscaping projects. They were featured in various publications including Sunset Magazine and HGTV.com

The photo above was completed for a Phoenix Spa Salon. It features a great open concept floor plan. Other great features include transitional elements and unique overhead lighting. 

SVA Architects 

2030 Franklin St., Ste. 210, Oakland, CA 94612

SVA Architects have been in business since 2003 and are known for their innovative architectural design and planning. They specialize in civic, cultural, educational, mixed-use, residential, military, and commercial projects. The firm is composed of over 50 talented professionals, who together can work on projects regardless of scale or complexity. 

The firm is led by their partner and president, Robert M. Simons, AIA who has over three decades of industry experience working on functional and sustainable spaces. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and personally oversees each of the firm’s projects.

A sample of SVA Architects’ work is the Laguna Woods Village Performing Arts Center. It was first designed in the 1970’s to accommodate over 800 guests. The firm was challenged with modernizing the venue. Inside there is a full stage, dressing rooms, and a rehearsal room, as well as two meeting rooms with access to a small kitchen.

Harriman Kinyon Architects, Inc.

1801 Oakland Blvd. #320, Walnut Creek CA 94596

Harriman Kinyon Architects has been in business for the greater part of four decades using a comprehensive process. Each project is assigned its own project manager, or architect, who monitors the entire process from start to finish. The firm operates out of its office in Walnut Creek but has also worked with clients in Nevada. The firm’s leadership includes Stephen Harriman, David Kim, and Donald Kinyon. 

Stephen Harriman, the company’s founder, has an extensive architectural career. He is affiliated with the Design Review Commissioner & Chairman and was also the oral examiner for the State of California’s architectural exam. David Kim maintains an innovative approach and is known for his great construction methodologies, while Donald Kinyon is responsible for the company’s operations and implementation strategies.

 Johnson Lyman Architects

1375 Locust St. # 202, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Johnson Lyman Architects is a full-service architectural firm. They specialize in retail, residential, and office markets, as well as mixed-use projects. The firm’s team provides insight into all phases of design and they have a reputation for having a highly hands-on and comprehensive approach. They achieve this through overseeing construction documents and all other administration needs throughout the entire process. 

The project above is one of Johnson Lyman Architects best retail projects. There are open spaces inside, as well as great finishes. 

Ruffin Architecture

2363 Boulevard Cir. Ste. 2, Walnut Creek, CA 94595

Ruffin Architecture specializes in both residential and commercial projects and has been in business since 1986. The firm services the entire Bay Area. From planning to interior design and finish selection, Ruffin Architecture’s team assists throughout the entire process. They work with a client’s budget, lessening the probability of any overspending during construction, and can take on projects regardless of size or scale. Their portfolio is filled with great multi-family spaces, kitchens, bathrooms, and home additions. 

The photo above can be found in downtown Walnut Creek. It entailed the extensive modernization of its exteriors. The firm’s team also worked on its dry rot repair. 

MI Architects

2221 Olympic Blvd., Ste. 100, Walnut Creek, CA 94595

MI Architects offer a full range of architecture and engineering services, as well as excellent architectural planning, management, and design. The firm also has extensive experience with landscape architecture and civil engineering. They provide assistance throughout all project phases, including project programming, working on zoning requirements, and schematic design. Their portfolio includes work on shopping centers, office buildings, restaurants, coffee shops, and educational buildings. They have also worked on multiple convention centers.  

MI Architects have also taken on several service stations. It usually requires site-specific fuel system permit drawings for these types of projects.