David Baker Architects

2016 New Associates

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David Baker Architects is pleased to announce the promotion and elevation of six talented designers and architects to Associates of the firm.

They are distinguished by their passion, creativity, and curiosity, and they offer a diverse range of strengths and interests that complement and bolster DBA's vision.

DBA's 2016 Associate Class: Katie Ackerly, Yes Duffy, Pedram Farashbandi, Chelsea Johnson, Brad Leibin, and Caroline Souza




Katie Ackerly, Associate

Katie Ackerly is DBA’s Sustainability Lead, and acts as our resource and advocate for building-performance tools and best practices. Katie came to architecture from the energy efficiency policy world, following a growing interest to develop ideas and communication about energy issues across disciplines.

She earned a Master of Architecture and an Master of Science in Building Science from the University of California, Berkeley. During these studies, she worked with the Center for the Built Environment, focusing on how building occupants perceive and control the comfort of the indoor environment.

Previously, she did policy-level research at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a non-profit advocacy group in Washington D.C. that pushes for higher energy efficiency standards in buildings.

Katie joined DBA in 2012, with the particular interest of designing buildings sensitive to the experience of occupants and operators. Indeed, what better building type to see this through than DBA’s specialty of mid-rise urban housing, where the quality of the environment can profoundly shape individual lives and the sustainability of whole communities?

Prior to all of this, Katie earned a degree in Geosciences from Williams College, and her abiding interest in rocks lives on in her dedicated pursuit of mountains and woods in which to hike and play. She still seeks inspiration primarily by contemplating geologic time (but she's also always up for a good meal or musical performance). 

You can contact Katie at katieackerly@dbarchitect.com.

Yes Duffy, Associate

Yes Duffy is an architect, fabricator, educator, and urban-interventionist. His work combines contemporary fabrication methods with traditional architectural wisdom to achieve collaborative, place-based innovations focusing on democratic design for everyday people.

A Bay Area native, Yes earned both Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Architecture and City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. He joined DBA in 2010 after teaching award-winning Collaborative Design/Build courses in the architecture and landscape departments at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design.

Yes works on a wide range of large-scale mixed-use developments and has been instrumental in developing DBA’s expertise in custom manufacturing, digital fabrication, and designing for a new generation of maker spaces and communities. He is also our liaison between clients, city agencies and local organizations that aim to create spaces that foster local craft industries, artisans, and manufacturing.

From the "maker market" at Potrero 1010, which now houses CCA’s Hubbell Street Galleries, to a pair of new maker-oriented housing communities in West Oakland, Yes is equally at home creating micro-maker spaces as multifamily modules in a large factory.

Yes's significant housing work at DBA includes The Union, The Rivermark, 1601 Mariposa Street, and many more. He is deeply involved in many aspects of these projects, from early schematic design to innovations in modularization and digital CNC fabrication.

He is also a metal-sculpting, jewelry-making, skateboarding, graffiti-muralist father of two.

You can contact Yes at yesduffy@dbarchitect.com.

Pedram Farashbandi, Associate
Associate AIA, LEED GA

Pedram Farashbandi grew up in Shiraz, Iran, a city known for its gardens, poets, and wine—which all influenced the way he perceives his surroundings and approaches design. The clear layout of the Persian garden taught him that buildings need simple, direct organization; poetry helps him think softly and abstractly; and wine makes everything better!

Pedram earned a Bachelor of Architecture from Azad University, in Shiraz, followed by a Master of Architecture from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. The contrast of these two cultures, experienced within the critical-thinking context of graduate work, taught him to look at things from many different angles.

A few years into his career in California, Pedram was working on a project next door to a DBA construction site. Intrigued, he learned more about the firm's work and social values and was inspired to join the DBA team in 2013. Pedram works on projects in the initial phases, rethinking conventional approaches and adapting workflows. He developed the design of the H3 GuestHouse, a boutique Healdsburg hotel, and helped visualize the Union Flats, DBA’s first multi-family modular development, under construction in Union City. He is the Project Manager for 1178 Folsom Street, an innovative mixed-use micro-unit development in San Francisco.

Pedram leads the firm’s exploration of new technologies. Drawing on teenage experience with 3D visualization software, he has become expert in Lumion and is using Oculus Rift to create an immersive virtual reality experience of our evolving projects.

A new home-owner and a new father, Pedram's current challenge is balancing work, family, and his Sunday soccer league.

You can contact Pedram at pedramfarashbandi@dbarchitect.com.

Chelsea Johnson, Associate

Chelsea Johnson is an architect, artist, and outdoor adventurer. Her childhood in Oakland (until age 9) and several decades in Ashland, Oregon, fostered her dual interest in buildings and nature.

Chelsea earned an M.Arch from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. In between these two degrees, she devoted a year to teaching English in Thailand and spent an immersive month practicing printmaking at Chiang Mai University. Chelsea joined DBA in 2011 after spending two years creating socially-focused landscape architecture and public art with Walter Hood in West Oakland.

Maintaining her interest in design that looks beyond the property line and positively impacts the larger community, Chelsea has turned her focus to urban infill housing. At DBA, Chelsea’s substantial projects include 855 Brannan, a 449-home mixed-use addition to SF’s Showplace Square neighborhood. Chelsea served as the project’s Design Lead and was instrumental in crafting an active ground-level program that includes retail opportunities for graduates of La Cocina’s small-food-business incubator program, as well as a diverse network of interrelated public plazas.

Chelsea is currently doing extensive research to explore the feasibility of applying the Living Building Challenge to Coliseum Place, a new development bringing 59 affordable family homes to East Oakland.

When not designing buildings, Chelsea can be found—or rather, not found—backpacking deep in the Sierras, climbing, biking, or otherwise exploring California’s diverse landscapes.

You can contact Chelsea at chelseajohnson@dbarchitect.com.

Brad Leibin, Associate

Brad Leibin joined DBA in 2013, inspired by the firm’s commitment to creating dynamic architecture that engages its urban, social, and ecological contexts.

Brad recently completed Pacific Pointe, the first 100% affordable family housing building in the Hunters Point Shipyard. He is the Project Architect on 1629 Market Street, a 565-unit mixed-use development in downtown San Francisco, and 888 Tennessee, a mixed-use development in the historic Dogpatch. He is currently kicking off a new project that will create 55 affordable homes in Oakland.

Believing that wonderful design is needed most by those who cannot afford it, Brad devotes time to pro bono efforts. Recent projects include SPARC-it Place (a pop-up business incubator on a vacant West Oakland lot); a light-art installation for the Navigation Center; and Local Cache, a proposal to enhance local social resilience in response to natural disasters.

Brad holds a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was awarded the Arthur Spayd Brooke Memorial Prize and the E. Lewis Dales Traveling Fellowship. He gained experience at leading design practices including James Corner Field Operations in New York before moving to California to join Public Architecture.  

Brad is the co-founder of TraceSF—an online journal that critically explores Bay Area design, culture, and urbanism—and has taught an advanced architecture studio at California College of Arts. He lives in a repurposed lamp factory in West Oakland and rides with a "dangerous" bicycle-gang known as the Ragamuffins, with whom he camps along the Bay Area’s scenic backroads.

You can contact Brad at bradleibin@dbarchitect.com.

Caroline Souza, Associate

Caroline Souza hails from American Falls, Idaho, a one-stoplight town on the edge of the desert, where she was raised with an encyclopedic knowledge of wheat farming and a respect for people in muddy work boots.

An early interest in drawing led her to architecture, where she discovered the thrill of “making difficult things beautiful.” Caroline joined DBA in 2014, bringing a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Idaho, an M. Arch from the University of Michigan, and a desire to make great places for people who don’t normally get high-quality spaces.  Prior to joining the DBA team, she spent several years with UrbanWorks in Chicago, specializing in design for nonprofits in underserved communities.

At DBA, Caroline is currently the Project Architect for 1950 Mission Street—the first 100% affordable housing in San Francisco’s Mission District in a decade—and for the soon-to-be-completed FIVE88, a new development in Mission Bay providing 200 homes for low-income families. In addition to these design and management responsibilities, Caroline leads several of DBA’s critical internal knowledge-sharing efforts, organizing weekly design charrettes and lessons-learned presentations.

From 2011 through 2016, Caroline was an editor of SOILED, an interdisciplinary magazine about the built environment. When not making great buildings, she can found wandering the Bay Area with her sketchbook, studying Mandarin, or experimenting with making electronic music at home in Oakland.

You can contact Caroline at carolinesouza@dbarchitect.com.