William Duff Architects (WDA) works with discerning private clients, leading commercial brands and public agencies, and has successfully completed more than 600 projects to-date. Project highlights include the British Airways Lounge at San Francisco International Airport, the San Francisco boutique for French luxury fashion retailer Isabel Marant, and the San Francisco office of live entertainment world leader Madison Square Garden Entertainment, along with numerous residential commissions.
Founded in 1998 by William S. Duff, Jr, AIA, WDA has earned, in recent years, several awards and accolades that are swiftly moving the architecture and interiors firm ahead of the pack. These include, most notably, an American Institute of Architects, San Francisco Design Award, and two International Design Awards. WDA also placed on San Francisco Business Times' 100 Fastest-Growing Private Companies (ranked #47 overall in 2020) and, most significantly, on San Francisco Business Times' Best Places to Work 2020—the only architecture and design firm on the list. And for the second year in a row, WDA placed in the top 50 on San Francisco Business Times' Bay Area's Largest Architecture Firms list.
"Our values underlie our success," notes Duff. He adds, "Because of the values we chose together as a firm — communication, transparency, excellence, and growth — we are able to continually perform to the highest standards in how we design, and in how we do business."
MSG Entertainment: William Duff Architects (WDA) reconnected interior spaces with each other, and to the views of the San Francisco Bay and skyline. Conference rooms feature carpet tile for better acoustic attenuation. Photo credit: Patrik Argast
MSG Entertainment: William Duff Architects (WDA) revived an existing 25,000 square feet of office space at Pier 1, near the San Francisco Ferry Building for Madison Square Garden Entertainment, a global leader in live entertainment. Photo credit: Patrik A
MSG Entertainment: Materials play an important role in delineating how spaces are used. The main circulation areas and atrium—which includes a communal kitchen and dining area—feature polished concrete flooring, Photo credit: Patrik Argast
MSG Entertainment: By uncovering and celebrating materials and structures that had been previously ignored or concealed, and re-establishing spatial connections, William Duff Architects (WDA) designed an office that helps facilitate the impromptu interact
Isabel Marant: For the San Francisco store located inside the landmarked Hotaling Building, William Duff Architects (WDA), working with Franklin Azzi Architecture, preserved, and celebrated, original design features—wood floors, plank ceilings, and arched
Isabel Marant: William Duff Architects (WDA) worked with Fisher Development Inc, KPFF Consulting Engineers and Franklin Azzi Architecture to realize a 3,546 square foot boutique that captures the brand's Bohemian chic-meets-modern charm, while preserving
Isabel Marant: At the fashion brand's San Francisco location by William Duff Architects (WDA), working with Franklin Azzi Architecture, the minimal palette of exposed brick walls painted white and whitewashed wood panel partitions allow the merchandise
Isabel Marant: William Duff Architects (WDA), working with Franklin Azzi Architecture, successfully implemented the luxury fashion label's brand design guidelines for its store inside landmarked Hotaling Building in historic Jackson Square—a San Francis
Butterfly House: The house—an International Design Award winner—features a glass wall-fronted stair that dynamically connects three levels of gathering areas, and private areas. Photo credit: Matthew Millman
Butterfly House: Designed by William Duff Architects (WDA), this three-level house features a butterfly roof with an asymmetrical wing span—making the structure distinctive, while conveying an expressive energy. Photo credit: Matthew Millman
Butterfly House: Indoor spaces and outdoor areas converge at the courtyard of this house designed to foster a sense of community, and to create a feeling of expansiveness. Photo credit: Matthew Millman
Butterfly House: The generously-sized family room (foreground) and living room (background) feature accordion glass walls that fully open to the courtyard and an expansive garden. Photo credit: Matthew Millman
British Airways Lounge: William Duff Architects (WDA) and UK-based interior design studio Graven collaborated on the 7,158 square-foot British Airways Lounge located in Concourse A at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The project team also incl
British Airways Lounge: The British Airways Lounge at SFO features a variety of seating options to suit any traveler's needs—from bench seating, club chairs and bar stools to desk chairs. Photo credit: Eric Rorer
British Airways Lounge: The 7,158 square-foot British Airways Lounge at SFO features minimalist design, a soothing color palette of blues, grays and earth tones, and floor-to-ceiling windows with runway views. The Boutique Dining Room features an entry
British Airways Lounge: The Boutique Dining Room captures a modern yet luxurious vibe with plush seating in red velvet and lighting design by Studio Three Twenty One. Photo credit: Eric Rorer
Big Ranch Road: Inspired by a contemplation on light, William Duff Architects (WDA) transformed a century-old former hay barn into an object of art—a one-of-a-kind architecture commission by adventurous clients who are noted art patrons, philanthropists
Big Ranch Road: Internal illumination transforms the former hay barn into an extraordinary, beckoning lantern-like structure for which William Duff Architects (WDA) was bestowed an American Institute of Architects award, San Francisco chapter (AIASF) an
Big Ranch Road: New glass volumes—which were inserted into the original wood structure—contain all the conditioned spaces, including a gathering area; thus, maximizing building energy performance. Photo credit: Matthew Millman
Big Ranch Road: The project—which Centric Building and EJA Lighting Design helped William Duff Architects (WDA) realize—features a gathering space flanked by mirrored walls behind which are a bar, catering kitchen, personal gym and restroom. Photo credi
During the pandemic, WDA has also become an architecture and design trends source— featured everywhere from Architectural Digest and Wall Street Journal to The Toronto Star and NBC-TV, among other media outlets. Principal Jim Westover, who leads WDA's residential studio, credits the firm's 'beginner's mind,' a phrase more often associated with technology start-ups. He explains, "We adopt a collective, open-ended approach to thinking about design solutions for our clients, as well as business strategies for our firm and how we can give back to the profession.”
WDA director of operations Phoebe Lam, AIA, an architect who now oversees the firm’s HR, project staffing, finances, and IT, agrees with Mr. Westover. She says, "Having a 'beginner's mind' means that we are able to crowdsource ideas, then successfully roll out company-wide initiatives with team buy-in built-in."
Some of these initiatives include “ArchCamp” and SPRINT, both launched in 2020. ArchCamp is an externship led by junior and senior-level WDA staff that includes six-week online sessions, weekly office hours, and continuing mentorship. Developed with high school students in mind, the program aims to bring exposure to the architectural profession — something not every student has access to — with the hopes of inspiring students to pursue a career in design, while also bringing more diversity to the profession.
SPRINT is a quick-turnaround service that provides WDA's commercial clients with design-based, decision-making tools within days, not weeks, for a fixed fee of US$3K. Services include return to operations plans, due diligence, and feasibility studies, as well as design concepts and visualizations. WDA also unveiled its first publication, Design Vision—a workbook intended to foster individual creativity within the framework of a cohesive design vision— at the 2020 San Francisco Design Week.
"These company-wide initiatives — Design Vision, ArchCamp and SPRINT — embody the spirit of WDA," observes Duff. He explains, "As architects and designers, we are in the "people business." Our goal is to provide a strong foundation for elevating our employees, our architecture and design industry, and our clients, propelling them forward."
About William Duff Architects (WDA)
Founded in 1998 and located in San Francisco, WDA finds inspiration in both the talented people who live and work in San Francisco and the region’s embrace of sustainability. The firm’s commitment to a culture that fosters curiosity, collaboration, and innovation drives its success in projects across its residential, retail, and commercial practices.