Two Architects at Work Building the Future of San Francisco


Forward-thinking architects face an uphill battle in San Francisco, which is known for strict historical mandates when it comes to new construction. But it’s this same old city that inspired Zoë Prillinger and Luke Ogrydziak, a team of modern architects who are ushering in a new era of tech-friendly Bay Area architecture before our very eyes.

Architects Zoe Prillinger and Luke Ogrydziak, photo by Matthew Millman

“Part of why we came here was a certain architecture scene that was really alive in the ’70s. It seemed inevitable this would become the center again,” says Ogrydziak. So in 2000, the pair, who studied at Princeton University, founded their firm Ogrydziak/Prillinger Architects (aka OP/Arch) here, confident that Northern California will someday be reborn as a hub for architectural design. The way they see it, SF allows them to flex their creative muscle in ways not afforded to them in other cities. “There is a sense of more freedom in terms of a less-established contemporary discourse,” says Prillinger. “We obviously bring our set of interests with us, but then there is the environment, the landscape, spectacular sights, art—which is important in architecture—good provocations.” Such inspiration has incited the pair to create geometric buildings that look like more like sculptures than livable homes. And the world is taking notice.

Take their best-known project, Gallery House, as case in point: The contemporary structure, on South Park in SoMa, is a house that doubles as an exhibition space, complete with a roof garden filled with sculptures by Kiki Smith. Gallery House brought home a 2011 honor award from the SF American Institute of Architects, and the project has been published in more than 20 
international journals.

Dune, in Pajaro Dunes near Monterey Bay. Photo from OP/Arch

But it would be presumptive to think that Gallery House is emblematic of the couple’s work: They believe that each project has a unique solution and thus they approach each one differently—considering the possibilities for a specific site and how to incorporate the personality of the client.

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