Last updated on May 22nd, 2024 at 06:29 am

A few miles away from downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena is a bustling city that serves as the primary cultural center of the San Gabriel Valley. It is home to various scientific, educational, and cultural institutions, as well as retail businesses that cater to the growing needs of the large population.

Below is a list of the seven best retail architects in Pasadena, California. This list was curated based on each architect’s background, design process, and recognition in the business.


1814 Franklin St, Suite 400, Oakland, CA 94612

Founded in 1991 and celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, KTGY is a leading full-service architecture, branding, interior and planning firm focused on residential, hospitality and mixed-use developments and neighborhood revitalization. Its diverse team of architects and planners combines big picture opportunities, modern sustainable practices and high design standards to create healthy built environments with lasting value. Under the leadership of architect and associate principal Michael Tseng, KTGY has been collaborating with some of the biggest names in the industry to curate spaces that represent their brands.

With such strong leadership at the helm, KTGY produces well-rounded design solutions across various markets, including retail. For example, Town Center at The Preserve is a new retail and office center in the heart of the residential neighborhoods of The Preserve at Chino. KTGY’s plan uniquely combines vibrant Main Street retail – including an active street front, vertical mixed-use units and places for gatherings and events – with modern, suburban-style parking and access directly facing the residential community. The result is a hybrid town center and neighborhood that is walkable and attractive to residents, visitors and businesses.

Town Center at The Preserve creates a traditional downtown-style district within a compact, new masterplan, demonstrating that the proven and desirable traits of Main Street retail centers can uplift and energize an entirely new community. Although designed specifically for The Preserve at Chino, this approach is replicable in other new masterplans, lifting them above suburban sprawl patterns that too often hamper pedestrian vitality.

DL English Design

167 Waverly Dr, Pasadena, CA 91105

With a keen focus on large and small format retail, hospitality, and lifestyle spaces, DL English Design is a highly qualified architect that can manage any retail project in Pasadena, regardless of size and scope. Founded in 2001 by Deborah English, it is an award-winning architectural design and branding firm that’s made up of an expert team that specializes in-store space planning, decor design, graphic design, and brand identity.

Since 2009, it has expanded to include in-house fabrication and installation, and it has helped in ensuring the accurate translation of one’s design. In 2018, it won the Excellence & Execution Award from the Retail Design Institute, and in 2015, it won the Supermarket Design of the Year.

The Vallarta Supermarkets featured above is a fantastic example of DL English Design’s work in the retail sector. For this project, the team provided a wide range of services, such as space planning, interior architecture design, design development, and decor design, as well as decor fabrication and installation. DL English Design’s efforts resulted in an eclectic, modern retail space with bright and charming decor.

mcg architecture

15635 Alton Pkwy, Suite 100, Irvine, CA 92618

Founded in 1927, MCG Architecture is a highly experienced design firm that has built a broad portfolio of successful projects over the last ninety-four years. It specializes in commercial architecture and has projects specifically in shopping centers, office buildings, hotels, mixed-use urban and suburban developments, and land planning.

With its rich experience in designing for a wide range of markets, including retail, it’s been recognized with awards like the Award of Merit for the office, retail, and mixed-use developments categories from the ENR Southeast, as well as the Digie Award for the Most Intelligent Mixed-Use Building Project from IBcon Commercial Real Estate Conference. Its projects have also been featured in the pages of several big publications like Properties Magazine, Indiana Business Journal, Sacramento Business Journal, Rebusiness Online, and North Bay Business Journal.

To get a quick glimpse of the kind of work that MCG Architects is known for, above is the Fountain Valley Plaza project, a tenant improvement and building shell project that MCG Architecture designed with a warm and contemporary style.

ONYX Architects

2540 East Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

With twenty-one years of experience in its belt, ONYX Architects is a seasoned architecture firm that has been revitalizing communities in southern California since 2000. ONYX Architects is made up of a diverse team of sixteen professionals who are efficient problem-solvers and visionaries when it comes to architectural design, particularly for multi-family housing, adaptive reuse, community spaces, and educational facilities.

For its great work in these markets, it has been awarded the 2021 Beyond LA Development of the Year in the Homes Within Reach Awards from the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH), and the Honor Award for the Restoration/ Adaptive Reuse category from the AIA Pasadena & Foothill Chapter, as well as two Pasadena Historic Preservation Awards.

Though ONYX shines in the multifamily housing realm, its ability to create designs that are tailor-fit to the tenants is also evident in its work on retail projects. For example, above is the Ganahl Lumber Pasadena, a large commercial/retail project that serves as an excellent display of ONYX Architects’ creative design solutions. After the completion of the Ganahl Pasadena, the company commissioned ONYX to continue the development of a series of design guidelines that reflect the company’s values and history. To execute this, the team provided design and marketing concepts, entitlements, and architectural services to the buildings that needed to be renovated, to adhere to the highly efficient and cohesive new brand design for the lumberyard.

Archillusion Design

717 N Highland Ave, Suite 6, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Created in 2013, Archillusion has already established itself as one of the area’s top design-build companies, especially because of its open and collaborative design process that focuses on value-based decision making, entrepreneurial thinking, and effective use of technology in the design process. In each project, it seeks to find new and effective ways to solve challenges, whether in the field of architecture, interior design, product design, or research and development.

For its fantastic work in design, it has been awarded the Gold A’ Design Award in the Interior Space and Exhibition Design category from the A’ Design Award Competition, as well as the Best Design Concept from the TITAN Property Awards. Some of its work can be found in EIN PressWire, Silicon Valley Live News, Archilovers, Architecture MasterPrize, Desert Sun, Time Out, and LA Eater.

Above is the STAYLIFTED project, a 5,000 square foot project that Archillusion designed for the cannabis dispensary company. For this project, the team wanted to switch up how cannabis dispensaries operate by creating a space with a unique interior environment with open space, slick wall-to-wall steel furniture, and enclosed interior gardens that invite natural light.


217 W Alameda, #203, Burbank, CA 91502

For the last fifty-one years, LR/Architecture has provided architecture, permitting, planning, and interior design services to both domestic and international clients. It offers superb services that have resulted in repeat businesses from its clients.

It serves a wide variety of markets, such as the commercial, religious, institutional, and residential sectors, and it has been awarded for its strong work in these areas. Among these awards is a Merit Award from the Illumination Engineering Society of North America, a Merit Award from the National Association of Store Fixture Manufacturers, and several Merit Awards and Honor Awards as well from the AIA.

Much of its work in the commercial market is typically done in a new traditional style, with stonework that pays homage to the surrounding neighborhood’s style. For example, pictured here is The Container Store project in Pasadena. Its facade reflects the style of the neighborhood it’s in, all while maintaining the store’s branding.

Dorado Design & Construction

1607 East Walnut St, Pasadena, CA 91106

Established in 2000, Dorado Design & Construction is an experienced,  minority-owned, licensed, bonded, and insured commercial general contractor that provides a wide range of services that extend beyond the bounds of design alone. It also provides full construction services, which include budgeting and estimating, tenant improvements, design-build/ground-up construction, and construction management.

Its President and Project Executive, Gabriel Sanchez, AIA has two decades of experience in design and construction and is both a licensed architect and licensed contractor. With his unique experience and skill set, he has led the design and construction team of Dorado Design & Construction to its success.

Over the years, Dorado Design & Construction’s clientele has expanded to include national retailers, major entertainment studios, theme parks, department stores, property owners, and developers. One example of its work in the retailer market is the Brighton Collectables above, which the team completed the reconstruction and interior design for.


  • Shahe Demirdjian

    Shahe is an Editor at General Contractors with around four years of experience as a writer and editor in the construction space. Shahe has always had a huge interest in commercial/residential construction and real estate. On top of his experience at General Contractors, he has two years of experience as a Construction Partner Specialist at BuildZoom and six years of experience as a licensed real estate agent. In his work, he takes advantage of his expertise to take complex technical jargon from those realms and transform them into accessible, engaging content, blending his business administration expertise with a degree from Arizona State University with his experiential insights. Expertise: Architecture, Home Design and Build, Home Remodeling Key Highlights: Arizona Real Estate - Licensed Salesperson Education: Arizona State University - Bachelors in Business Administration