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Meet Cecilia Quezada of Quezada Architecture

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cecilia Quezada. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
QA is a women- and minority-owned architectural and interior design firm based in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The firm was founded in 1994 by Fred Quezada Jr. and got its start with Silicon Valley commercial architecture. In 2019, Cecilia Quezada took over the practice and recruited two female partners to join her: Julia Campbell and Richelle Nolan. Together, Quezada, Campbell, and Nolan are leading the studio in the design of residential, hospitality, commercial, and public work that includes exciting projects such as a luxe, artist-forward dog rescue, and cafe in Santa Monica, the adaptive reuse of an art deco shopping mall turned headquarters for food-innovators Amy’s Kitchen and a high-end restaurant in a national park in Puerto Rico. 

QA has been extremely fortunate to collaborate with visionary clients such as George Lucas, Uber, and Google, creating a foundation for our practice that is rooted in the innovation and spirit of the San Francisco Bay Area. We pride ourselves on our customized, collaborative approach to every project and our ability to adapt to meet our clients’ needs. We blend the technical with the creative to innovate solutions that are unique and unexpected. 

Diversity of perspective and approach is integral to our design process. Thoughtful hiring and team building is reflected throughout our firm and our staff collectively identifies as 71% women and 50% ethnic minority. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Women-owned, minority-owned businesses within the Architecture/Engineering/Construction realm, especially doing the size of projects found in our portfolio, are few and far between. Through big design thinking, technical experience, and a collaborative approach, we have been afforded opportunities to work with some of the biggest and brightest clients in California as a boutique firm. We are extremely proud of the team and network that we have built and what we have accomplished. 

Our ultimate goal is to serve our clients by sharing our professional expertise, but with a side of empathy and a whole lot of fun. Client relationships are and always will be at the heart of what we do. After all, projects can sometimes take 3-5 years, so you should love your architect! 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Quezada Architecture?
Ahead of 2020, our leadership had the foresight to assess our portfolio of work and make a conscious decision to pursue different project types and scales to make sure we are offering a diverse level of design thinking to our community. Riding the massive wave of new construction in 2022, we are realizing our clients’ vision with fresh perspective. We view architecture as an opportunity to inspire, delight, and improve people’s lives in very practical, tangible ways. 

We know first-hand the value in forming design teams that are rich in different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives because our projects live in the real world among real communities that are equally as diverse. In the last two years, QA has leaned into collaborations with larger firms who are looking to bring that inclusive spirit and new points of view to their client base. 

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
At QA, our Partners Quezada, Campbell, and Nolan understand the importance of representation in our field and what it means to students and new grads to see women in top leadership roles. Participation in industry organizations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA), National Organization for Minority Architects (NOMA), Corenet, and CREW SF (Commercial Real Estate Women of San Francisco), IIDA (International Interior Design Association), and Chief help our visibility and offer networking opportunities with other women in the field. 

Cecilia’s advice on this topic rings true: “Everyone you come across is a teacher, whether it’s in school or your job, or while traveling the world. Be a sponge! Be confident in your abilities no matter where you’re at because architecture is a long pursuit.” 

Contact Info:


Image Credits

Reny Huelskamp
Jason O’Rear
Quezada Architecture

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