Berkeley, located on the east side of San Francisco Bay, is a culinary destination offering some of the most delectable seafood dishes in North America and every other cuisine imaginable. From rich, aromatic cups of coffee to craft beers, pizzas and a variety of international cuisines, Berkeley’s top-notch restaurants are ready to exceed expectations. The city is even considered the birthplace of the farm-to-table movement after Chef Alice Waters established Chez Panisse over five decades ago.
With Berkeley’s reputation as a foodie destination, restaurant establishments in the city are increasing. Helping design world-class establishments that match world-class cuisines are these eight top architects in Berkeley. These architects have been honored by press features and awards. Their length in the business spans from over 5 to 61 years. All these architects have built solid portfolios of impressive projects.
2620 3rd St., San Francisco, CA 94107
Established in 1987, Lundberg Design adopts nature’s raw beauty as the inspiration for the firm’s richly textured and edgy designs. Its use of materials like steel, wood, and stone deliver an organic feeling that is rough around the edges but ultimately beautiful and functional. To realize its design intent, the firm makes effective use of its in-house fabrication shop. Here, Lundberg Design has a place to explore alternative ways of using standard materials. The shop allows the firm to create truly unique and custom pieces for its projects.
Lundberg Design’s nature-inspired modern style is apparent in Rice & Bones, a fast-casual Vietnamese restaurant in Berkeley. Located on the ground floor of Wurster Hall, home of the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design, the restaurant caters to the university’s architecture students. Inspired by chef Charles Phan’s concept for the food, a celebration of often overlooked but nourishing staples, Lundberg Design designed a space that embodies simplicity and functionality. The design emphasizes the building’s original concrete walls and coffered ceiling, and incorporates a variety of upcycled materials. The reclaimed-wood dining tables, folded steel benches, and reclaimed channel glass wall were made in the firm’s fabrication shop. These unique architectural elements set the stage for the open kitchen which, against a backdrop of white tile, showcases the activity of the chefs.
Thoughtful designs like this have earned Lundberg Designs numerous honors, most recently the 2019 Design of the Year award from Eater Awards. Publications such as The New York Times, Business Insider, and San Francisco Business Times have featured the firm. The man behind the firm’s prestige is Olle Lundberg. Lundberg Design believes that simple, elegant designs are a result of the proper use of form, light, and material. His architectural influence began at Washington and Lee University. He further broadened his knowledge through earning a master’s degree from the University of Virginia.
360 17th St., Suite 200, Oakland, California 94612
Based in Oakland, Lowney Architecture serves clients across the country. President and CEO Ken Lowney holds a Master’s degree from the Southern California Institute of Architecture and is licensed in several states, including California, Washington, New York, and Hawaii. Ken believes that thoughtful, responsible architecture is crucial for helping communities develop. A LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional), Ken puts great thought into sustainable designs.
One of the firm’s carefully-crafted designs is Swan’s Market, a mixed-use development project. The project revived an old structure, built and modified from 1917 to 1940. Lowney Architecture preserved some of the building’s original details, exposing the historic landmark’s trusses and restructuring them to allow natural light into the space. The firm provided master planning, interior design, and architectural services for the 24,000-square-foot building that now houses restaurants, the historic Housewives Market, the Museum of Children’s Art, and other non-profit organizations.
The firm has attracted much recognition over the years, thanks to Ken’s leadership. The firm’s most recent award is the Berkeley Design Advocate Award, 2021. The Business Journals, ENR, Construction Dive, and San Francisco Chronicle have all featured the firm.
1396 Park Ave., Emeryville, CA 94608
Consistently awarded Best of Oakland by Oakland Magazine from 2015 to 2020, Amato Architecture has also claimed its place as one of the best in Berkeley. This highly-acclaimed company has graced the pages of Hawaii Home Magazine, ARCHnews, and Luxe. The reason for its popularity is obvious: magnificent designs that go beyond form. The firm delivers sustainable designs that are timeless, stunning, and functional. Influencing its environmentally-friendly approach is principal Rebecca Amato. A member of the American Institute of Architects and an Environmental Design degree holder from the University of Colorado, Amato has always given environmental care priority. This approach is applied by Amato and her team on each commercial and residential project they handle.
One of the firm’s outstanding designs is the Magnolia/Smokehouse restaurant in San Francisco. Inspired by a German “biergarten” and the site’s historic neighborhood, the firm redesigned the restaurant and brewery with industrial elements. The selection of industrial style is fitting, as the old building is a former warehouse and canning factory. The historic character of the structure is preserved through the use of concrete, wood, and exposed plumbing. The current structure combines an Old World flavor with modern energy.
Amato’s commercial designs are influenced by projects in different parts of the world, including Hong Kong, Beijing, and Nepal. Bringing distinct flavors from these different countries, Amato transforms restaurants into unique spaces with signature elements.
Levitch Associates, Inc.
1029 Heinz Ave., Berkeley, CA 94710
Established in 1960, Levitch Associates, Inc. is the longest-operating firm on this list. In business for over 61 years, the firm has claimed many honors, including the prestigious Gold Nugget Award in 2020, for the firm’s consistent excellence and innovation. This consistency is due to three generations of Levitch family management. Currently, the firm is headed by Maurice Levitch, AIA. Learning the family business at an early age, Maurice developed a love for designing and building. He holds a degree from the University of California and now oversees the business’s operation.
Under Maurice’s guidance, the firm has completed many award-winning designs, such as the Arizmendi Bakery Lakeshore. Winner of the 2021 Best Commercial Interior award from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, this bakery benefited from Levitch’s design-build expertise. Addressing the issue of space due to increasing business, the firm remodeled the entire bakery to fix the flow and foot traffic. The new layout was completed in three phases, allowing the bakery to operate continuously. The firm also provided custom casework, reclaimed seating and dining tables, and a customer handwash station.
414 Thirteenth St., Suite 350, Oakland, CA 94612
In business since 2003, Arcsine has been hailed by many publications as one of the best firms in America. Fortune magazine included the firm in its “Inner City” fastest-growing business list. Forbes has also featured the firm. The firm’s outstanding reputation can be attributed to the excellent leadership of Daniel Scovill and Adam Winig. Co-founding principals Daniel and Adam believe in providing quality, sustainability, and efficient service delivery. Under their supervision, clients in the hospitality, commercial, and restaurant sectors are assured of top-notch architecture and interior design services.
Adam is an expert in large-scale hospitality projects. Through his experience in the field, he has developed a mastery of completing complex projects on schedule and within budget. Adam has a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and licenses in several states. Daniel started the firm with a vision of using collaborative design innovation. Using this approach, he has handled many complex commercial projects. His mission is to guide a highly-skilled team to produce outstanding results. Daniel is an alumnus of California Polytechnic State University and a licensed architect in California, Washington D.C., and Nevada.
Adam’s and Daniel’s expert direction is evident in the Bardo Lounge & Supper Club project shown here. The firm brought the restaurant to life by using a retro style with modern touches. Inspired by the 60s and 70s, the firm added vintage elements to the space, including a chandelier originally found in Portland’s Imperial Hotel. Modern pieces such as the accent chairs balance the vintage elements. The result is retro yet refined.
1810 6th St., Berkeley, CA 94710
Founded in 2016, Studio KDA is the youngest firm on this list. With youth come energy and innovation, and this is exactly what the firm brings to the table in its mission of creating spaces to “Eat, Shop, Live, and Play.” As an energetic firm, it aims to build spaces that foster interaction and community building. This vision drives the firm’s team of designers and architects, led by four energetic principals, Marites Abueg , Charles Kahn, Keith Morris, and Ann Slobod. Experts in their own right, each brings decades of experience to the firm. The four employ a hands-on approach in every project, making sure to satisfy the client’s needs and guide the team in overcoming project challenges. Under their expert hands, the firm successfully completes impressive restaurant, retail, and multifamily projects.
One of the firm’s best restaurant designs is Bar Shiru. Recognized as the first Vinyl-Listening Bar in the Bay Area, the project rightfully earned the title Winner of the 2020 PCBC Interior Renovation Gold Nugget Grand Award. Located in a historic building in Oakland’s uptown district, the bar is only 1,500 feet wide. Thanks to the firm’s talents and expertise, the size and layout of the space have been used as an advantage. The bar has been transformed into an intimate space that allows an immersive musical experience and intimate conversations. To provide high sound quality, the firm incorporated acoustic sound panels and sound-diffracting wood screens into the design. Overall, the firm has created a truly unique space, distinctive among the bars in the area.
WEISBACH architecture | design
2325 3rd St. Suite 343, San Francisco, CA 94107
Featured in Eater SF, WEISBACH architecture | design is a small business with a big passion. It is passionate about using cutting-edge solutions in producing meaningful places and spaces. Specializing in modern style, it provides architecture and interior design services to enhance people’s lives. By building comfortable residential spaces and designing successful business establishments, the firm is on the right track in achieving its goals.
In Alameda, California, the firm designed the Trabocco Kitchen and Cocktails restaurant. By collaborating with the owner and operators of the restaurant, the firm created a clear direction for the establishment’s style. Using an Italian trabocco as a theme, the design evokes the traditional fishing piers in the stained wood and steel materials used. With a touch of modern style, the firm has made a sophisticated Italian restaurant, an excellent addition to the Alameda community.
Leading the firm’s commitment to building communities is Lev Weisbach, AIA. Founder of WEISBACH architecture | design, Lev is an expert in hospitality, retail, and restaurant projects. With more than 20 years of industry experience, Lev manages projects of any scale. He is a proud alumnus of the University of California at Berkeley, with a master’s degree from Columbia University.
562 61st St, Oakland, CA 94609
In the industry for over 25 years, SRG Architects is a California-based firm that has expanded its reach to Hawaii. Its immense growth is the result of the superior architectural services it provides. The firm’s large clientele includes the restaurant, commercial, residential, and mixed-use markets. Because of its extensive experience, the firm has been entrusted with multi-million dollar projects. In the restaurant business, it is known for designing the best destination restaurants in California and other parts of the U.S.
One of the firm’s best restaurant projects is the Ozumo Santa Monica. This 3,000-square-foot Japanese restaurant caters to a discerning clientele. The sophisticated Japanese dining experience was created with a $3-million budget. In collaboration with Yasumichi Morita, a world-famous interior designer, the firm completed a luxurious Japanese restaurant with several unique dining environments. The predominantly white and well-lit sushi bar is a stark contrast to the main dining room’s predominantly black décor. As the project’s in-house architect, the firm was in charge of the construction management as well as design development.
Scott R. Galka oversees the firm’s business operations. He is a hard-working architect with experience in award-winning American architecture firms. Scott is an Environmental Design graduate of University of California Berkeley with a master’s degree from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.