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Meet Tony Garcia, AIA of Asquared Studios in Hillcrest

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tony Garcia, AIA.

Tony, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story is one of two worlds: the United States and Mexico, English, and Spanish, old and new, nature and architecture. Born in the small town of Los Garcia, Chihuahua, my family immigrated to Kansas at a young age. Spending most of my youth in the fields of Kansas, my family often took me back to Mexico. Growing up in these two different places and cultures had a profound influence on me, and my experiences are reflected in my work. Mexico’s ecclesiastical architecture was an early inspiration, and as a boy, I spent hours sketching the old churches of my parents’ homeland.

This passion for older buildings is evident in the amount of historic preservation work I do, helping homeowners realize their design goals while maintaining the house’s original character. The natural settings of the two places also influenced me, from the arid, undulating hills of Mexico to the wide open plains of Kansas. My designs often have an open, modern aesthetic that lets nature in.

These early experiences set the foundation for my wanting to become an architect. That drive led me to be the first in my family to graduate high school and the first to go to college. After graduating from Arizona State University in 1995, I charged right into the professional world. Having worked for a couple of architectural firms early in my career, in 1999 I was offered the opportunity to move to San Diego. It was clear to me then, I had found a place I could call home.

From the start of my career, my entrepreneurial spirit lay just below the surface. Despite my great experiences at larger firms, there was no denying my desire to actualize my own practice. Having learned a great deal about business management and architecture from previous employers, I partnered with fellow graduates to create a unique ‘global’ design studio with our first office opening in San Diego, CA, in 2004. In 2006, managing partner and principal, Jessie Whitesides, opened the door to our second location in Santa Rosa, CA. Within the construct of the current global professional economy, we have mastered the technologies that allow us to operate as one unified design studio with multiple offices in distinct locations. As managing partner and principal of our San Diego studio, I consider myself a thoughtful leader who brings a unique viewpoint to all aspects of architecture, including education and engagement with the community.

Now twelve years since our studio’s inception, I strive to continue to expand and articulate the value of what architects can offer. This is evident by the various project types we have tackled. ASquared Studios has built an award-winning portfolio of work that features projects of all scales and diverse forms of context.

Has it been a smooth road?
Our greatest challenge to date has been the recent recession. Fortunately, the few years prior to the recession helped our small business establish a solid portfolio and base of clients. Like so many, we had to navigate the choppy waters and really challenge the standard structure of an architectural practice.

This evaluation of our business structure opened us up to new approaches, such as collaborating with other design firms to take on new sectors or teaming up with general contractors to form design/build teams. We also marketed ourselves towards more recession-friendly niches small hospitality and renovation projects.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the ASquared Studios story. Tell us more about the business.
ASquared Studios is traditionally engaged in a full-service arrangement to design and manage a project from conception through to construction completion.

As a contemporary design studio, we seek to embrace projects that present us with the challenges of vernacular living within the context of our modern environment. We believe that our clients come first and that all projects require an interactive collaboration to develop an artfully crafted result. We are invigorated by the notion that the basic fundamentals of function and cost can be translated into sophisticated spaces, elegant details, and environmental sustainability.

By offering and providing a principal-led delivery system we have taken great care to shape our practice into a uniquely responsive and personable studio design experience. Our project type expertise includes custom residential, winery and hospitality, commercial, and interior improvement projects. Our wide-ranging portfolio is rooted in a never-ending curiosity in how we live and work today, and the pleasure we take in collectively solving design challenges through research, strategic thinking, spatial analysis and a focus on craft.

Our principal led delivery system is a strategy we have developed in order to create the highest level of quality and service possible. Over the years we have found that our clients have a very positive response to knowing that a studio principal is directly in charge of every aspect of the design and construction process we guide them through. From site visits, design sketches, drafting, meeting notes, budgetary discussions, contractor negotiations, and reviewing field conditions, the appointed project principal will follow the project from conception to completion. It is this ability to offer the highest possible level of service which we are most proud of.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Over time we have seen clients become more invested in their final product. By this, I mean a deeper level of participation in the design process regardless of the project type. As such, one of our other philosophies has always been, to begin with, an owner inspired vision.

Our contribution is to lend our expertise to help elevate and synthesize our client’s overall goals and vision. We blend, form and manipulate scale, proportion, light, color, volume, and sound to achieve an emotional and visual response for our clients and end users that are rooted in their initial project objectives. This approach also allows for a wide-ranging body of work.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Pierce Harrison

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