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The Best Residential Architects and Designers in San Diego

18 Min Read

Consistently named as among the best places to live in California, San Diego offers its residents a plethora of outdoor activities to enjoy great commercial districts and outstanding beaches. They also enjoy all four seasons, in addition to both city and beachside living. This list is a showcase of 15 of the area’s best and leading residential architects behind some of its best homes. These firms were chosen based on their impressive portfolios and backgrounds. Several of these companies are also proud recipients of multiple industry awards and have been the subject of a variety of publications.


Safdie Rabines Architects

925 Fort Stockton Dr., San Diego, CA 92103

Safdie Rabines Architects is a full-service firm that specializes in architecture and interior design. It has been in business since 1993 and is overseen by husband-and-wife duo, Ricardo Rabines, and Taal Safdie. Together they lead a team of over 50 designers, architects, interior designers, and support staff. They make use of a highly collaborative approach, which has resulted in timeless work. It is especially known for its single-family residences, but it is also known for affordable housing, student housing, mixed-use communities, and large-scale master plans.

Project by Safdie Rabines Architects

Labeled in its portfolio as the “Bay House,” this project is located in San Diego’s Sail Bay. It spans over 3,700 square feet and sits along the water’s edge. It features an L-shaped design and wonderfully incorporates the home’s indoor-outdoor spaces. Some other great features include its floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors and its recurring theme of straight lines.


Jonathan Segal FAIA & Development Company

3000 Upas St. #101, San Diego, CA 92104

Jonathan Segel Architect is an award-winning firm best known for its stellar and comprehensive services. It is led by its founder and namesake, Jonathan Segel, who is also a proud Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), which is the highest distinction the prestigious organization bestows upon its members. Under his leadership and supervision, the company has worked on over 300 responsible and environmentally sound designs. These include single-family homes and medium to high-density urban residential and mixed-use projects. Since the firm’s inception, it has won over 40 local, state, and national AIA awards for residential and Urban Design. This has enabled the company to be one of San Diego’s most successful and premier residential architectural companies. The firm has also been featured in a multitude of publications. Its work can best be showcased in the project above.

Project by Jonathan Segal FAIA & Development Company

Simply called “The Cresta” in its portfolio, the featured project spans over 5,300 square feet. Located in La Jolla, this single-family residence was constructed entirely out of cast-in-place concrete. It consists of three stories and offers its residents excellent views of its surrounding areas through magnificent floor-to-ceiling glass windows.


M.W. Steele Group

1805 Newton Ave., Suite A, San Diego, CA 92113

The M.W. Steele Group extends its services throughout San Diego and is among its best and leading award-winning architecture firms. It draws inspiration from over three decades of industry experience and credits its success to both its talented team and its long-term artistic collaborations with some of the area’s most outstanding subcontractors and professionals. Since its establishment, the firm has won numerous impressive distinctions such as Merit Awards from the San Diego American Planning Association and the National Association of Home Builders. The chosen project above is an excellent example of the firm’s talent and expertise.

Project by M.W. Steele Group

Designed for the Andison residence, this single-family home overlooks the golf links in the Rancho Santa Fe Farms. It spans over 4,000 square feet and makes use of seamless indoor-outdoor spaces. Some of its best elements include custom-designed glass, hardware, sculptures, and murals.


H2 Hawkins + Hawkins Architects, Inc.

726 9th Ave., Suite #1, San Diego, CA 92101

H2 Architects is an award-winning firm that operates out of two offices in San Diego and Gig Harbor, in Washington. It focuses on infusing various sustainability and green methods into its projects, assuring its homeowners of the high efficiency of its work. It has been in business since 1998 and is the brainchild of brothers David and Steven Hawkins. Under their supervision, the firm has also become known for its outstanding commercial, cultural, residential, and mixed-use architectural designs. The firm uses a highly client-focused approach and assists homeowners throughout the entire process. That includes site planning, programming, feasibility studies, master planning, and space planning. The firm’s work adheres to LEED standards.

Project by H2 Hawkins + Hawkins Architects, Inc.

Completed in La Jolla, this project spans over 6,000 square feet. It won the firm the Gold Nugget Award of Merit under the Best on the Boards Custom Home Category during the Pacific Coast Builders Conference. The home provides its owners panoramic views of the ocean and showcases warm wood detailing with stone, in addition to an open kitchen, a roof terrace, and natural wood accents throughout.


domusstudio architecture LLP

2800 Third Ave., San Diego, CA 92103

Deriving its name from the Latin word for “house,” Domus Studio provides its clients with stellar and environmentally responsible architectural services. It has worked on numerous projects including religious structures, educational facilities, senior living facilities, and commercial spaces. It has garnered awards based on its great sustainable designs on LEED Silver, Gold, and Platinum-certified projects. The firm’s team achieves this success through the use of excellent local materials. The firm is known for its projects’ open floor plans and the use of natural light. The Domus process emphasizes the importance of client collaboration, as well as adherence to the latest building techniques. To ensure this, it maintains affiliations with organizations like the US Green Building Council. Since its establishment, the company has worked on over a hundred plus custom residential projects in La Jolla, San Diego, and Del Mar.

Project by domusstudio architecture LLP

Situated on a beautiful hillside overlooking the San Dieguito Lagoon, this home spans over 4,650 square feet. It features a large expansive deck, its own guest house, and cantilevered roofs. For this, the firm’s team incorporated various sustainable features like photovoltaic cells on the roof and a gray water collection and storage system for the site irrigation.


House Design Architects

2150 W. Washington St., Suite #301, San Diego, CA 92110

House Design Architects is the product of the vision of its founder and principal, Mark House. He is a licensed architect with over three decades of experience working in Southern California. He founded House Design back in 2015, which grew from the roots of his very first company: House and Dodge Design, which he co-founded in 1998. Mark makes sure that each project that the firm takes on receives the benefit of his experience. Its work has been featured in various publications like San Diego Premier and Luxe. Featured above is one of the firm’s most impressive homes.

Project by House Design Architects

This photo showcases the firm’s work for the Camino de la Costa home. It received the Best Residential project distinction during the International Design and Architecture Awards in London. This oceanfront home boasts multiple outdoor living spaces, a sunken seating area, and an outdoor dining terrace. Some other details include an infinity-edge pool, four bedrooms, and seven bathrooms.


architectsmagnus

3370 Jackdaw St., San Diego, CA 92103

architectsmagnus is the brainchild of its principals, Hector and Pamela Magnus. This husband-and-wife duo makes use of a highly collaborative approach, which has resulted in countless outstanding spaces. Under their supervision, the firm can take on projects regardless of size or scale. The firm’s portfolio showcases a variety of homes rendered in diverse architectural vernaculars, from modern to traditional inspired spaces. Its work has been featured in multiple publications. These include Dwell, San Diego Home/Garden, and Kitchens & Baths.

Project by architectsmagnus

The chosen project shows the firm’s work for its Jewell home. This home has been featured in San Diego Magazine and was included in the Dwell Home Tours. For this, the firm’s team designed a house with custom-carved wood screens. It also opted for a row of glass doors that lead to its interiors.


Hauck Architecture

4888 Ronson Court, Suite F, San Diego, CA 92111

Hauck Architecture is a San Diego-based practice that offers a full range of architecture and interior design services. It specializes in craft breweries, bars, restaurants, and custom residential projects. The firm has been in business since 1996 and is also highly regarded for its design, layout, and engineering services. The firm maintains affiliations with vital organizations like the AIA, LEED, and the USGBC. The project above is an excellent example of the firm’s talent and expertise.

Project by Hauck Architecture

Originally, a 3,650-square-foot dysfunctional ranch house in the Muirlands area, this home now features an excellent contemporary rendering of a former mid-century home. For this, the firm had to work on a second-floor addition, a new master suite, and a revamped private living area. The home offers its owners beautiful ocean views and an excellent open floor plan. Its exteriors are clad in western red cedar and seam metal roofing.


Kim Grant Design, Inc.

2400 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101

Kim Grant Design is an award-winning firm that specializes in historic properties and coastal homes. It extends its services throughout San Diego and the areas surrounding it. The firm makes use of a highly personalized approach for each of its work, ensuring that it tailor fits its methods for each project’s individual and unique needs. The firm has been in business since 2002 and is highly regarded for its existing condition assessments, custom residential designs, historic restorations, permitting, and construction administration. Some of its best work can be found spread across Coronado, Del Mar, Kensington, La Jolla, Mission Hills, Point Loma, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Santa Fe, and San Diego.

Project by Kim Grant Design, Inc.

The photo above showcases the firm’s work on the 1127 F Ave. Coronado Spanish home. This grandiose home features six bedrooms, nine bathrooms, and over 15,067 square feet of upscale space. Its interior showcases a rich embellished home from its dining area to its outdoor pool area. In addition, this home also features a home gym, indoor and outdoor mini golf, a spa, and a bar/theater room.


Ten Seventy Architecture

4411 30th St., Suite #202, San Diego, CA

Sean and Margaret Canning lead and own Ten Seventy Architecture. They first met while studying architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and together, are known for their love and expertise for modern and minimalist designs. Each holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree and is also both LEED accredited professionals. This assures the firm’s clients that all its work is highly sustainable and energy-efficient. The chosen project above best embodies the firm’s talent and expertise.

Project by Ten Seventy Architecture

For this project, the firm’s team primarily used stucco, metal, wood, and concrete materials. It was tasked with this home’s extensive remodel. It replaced the stuccoed wood posts with slender black steel. A canopy was also installed to shade the roof deck, while its outdoor spaces were extensively reworked.


Mark A Silva Architect

3666 Argonne Street, San Diego, CA 92117

With various features in publications like Architectural Digest and Luxe Magazine, Mark A Silva offers full range architectural services. Mark describes his work as a reflection of the project site and owner’s program. These projects are often a fusion of the client’s vision and the site’s “personality,” meaning that the firm takes a home’s site into great consideration when creating its designs. Showcased above is one of Mark’s homes.

Project by Mark A. Silva Architect

For this excellent house, Mark employed an open-concept floor plan that ties the home’s living, dining, and entertainment areas. It also opted for floor-to-ceiling windows, which allow in a large amount of light and provide stellar views of the surrounding areas. Some other great details include its angular roofs and exterior finishes.


Oasis Architecture & Design, Inc.

1015 Turquoise St., Suite #2, San Diego, CA 92109

Having graced the pages of publications such as San Diego Home/Garden, Oasis Architecture and Design provides a full range of award-winning architectural services. The firm designs custom homes, renovations, and additions, and although headquartered in California, the firm has also worked on projects in Wisconsin and Atlanta. The firm is composed of a group of professionals committed to working on creative and innovative solutions. Together, they have created numerous modern and transitional designs.

Project by Oasis Architecture & Design, Inc.

The chosen project is an excellent example of the firm’s talent and expertise. For this home, the firm’s team opted for a fusion of modern farmhouse elements coupled with stucco touches and wood elements. Some other great details include its custom portico.


obrARCHITECTURE

2419 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92104

obrARCHITECTURE specializes in working on civic, commercial, educational, and residential spaces. It has had the opportunity to work in some of San Diego’s most sought-after neighborhoods and can take on projects regardless of size or scale. At the firm’s helm are its principals, Garrick Oliver, Christopher Bittner, and Anney Rosenthal-Hall. Oliver graduated from San Diego State University in 1999 and has been a licensed architect since 2007. He is also a LEED-certified professional and is a lecturer of interior architecture at San Diego State University. On the other hand, Bittner has practiced since 2002 and holds a degree from San Diego’s New School of Architecture. Lastly, Rosenthal-Hall graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 1999 after spending a year abroad in Florence, Italy. She is also a LEED accredited professional. Under their collective vision and leadership, obrARCHITECTURE has curated a stellar portfolio and clientele list for itself.

Project by obrARCHITECTURE

Pictured above are the firm’s contributions to the Bardsley residence. Located in Del Mar, this project was designed and completed back in 2006. Its owners wished to expand their existing house to create a dream home for their retirement. As a result, the home was expanded by a thousand square feet and now showcases a second-floor addition consisting of an office, master bedroom and bath, an entertainment deck, and a private deck off of the bedroom.


Christian Rice Architects Inc.

1127 Loma Ave., Coronado, CA 92118

Founded in 2004, Christian Rice Architects offers a range of award-winning architectural services. Its portfolio depicts a selection of both public and private projects in addition to an extensive array of designs. Led by Christian Rice, the firm’s team makes use of a cohesive approach that emphasizes the importance of designing homes that are sensitive to a project’s surrounding environment and a client’s budget. It commits itself to excellent project management and collaborates with homeowners throughout the entirety of a project.

Project by Christian Rice Architects Inc.

Before his establishment of the firm, Christian Rice first gained experience by working in some of the country’s most respected design studios. These include Will Bruder Architects in Phoenix, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects in Atlanta, and Michael Rotondi/Roto Architects in Los Angeles. He is also well-traveled, which explains the firm’s expertise in a number of exotic designs.

Featured above is the firm’s work on the Georgia Street residence. Located in San Diego, this home stands just east of the Hillcrest neighborhood. It entailed the renovation of an existing two-story home- that was essentially a stucco box. For this, the firm’s team used a contemporary theme, which includes the addition of a glass garage door that opens vertically into a new double-height volume in the entry area. It also opted for new steel roof elements and balconies.


Architect Mark D. Lyon, Inc.

410 Bird Rock Ave., La Jolla, CA 92037

With over three decades of industry experience, Architect Mark D. Lyon specializes in every aspect of the residential architecture process. It is also regarded for its commercial and historic preservation projects. Since its inception, it has worked on more than 500 architectural projects completed throughout Southern California. The firm’s team is composed of a talented team of professionals. They are Coastal Experts, assuring clients that they are experienced with everything that has to do with constructing and designing beachside homes. The home above is one of the firm’s best homes.

Project by Architect Mark D. Lyon, Inc.

Labeled in its portfolio as the “Chelsea,” this project is a contemporary oceanfront home. For this, the firm’s team used stucco exteriors and large paneled windows. Some other great elements include its flat roofs and seamless interiors.

Author

  • Blaine Comeione

    Blaine has served as Editor at San Diego Architects for six years, drawing from over ten years of experience in construction and real estate. His comprehensive understanding spans commercial construction, architecture, and home builds, cultivated through diverse roles in the industry. With four years at BuildZoom and a background as a licensed real estate agent, Blaine possesses a unique perspective that enriches his editorial work. His dedication to delivering informative content is underscored by his extensive tenure in the field, ensuring that readers receive valuable insights into the dynamic world of construction and home design. Expertise: Architecture, Commercial Construction, Home Design and Build Key Highlights: Over 6 years of experience writing and editing in the construction space, Editor at San Diego Architects, Previous experience at BuildZoom and Keller Williams Realty Education: Ohio University, Bachelor of Science in Human and Consumer Science - Minor in Business, 120+ Hours of New Jersey Real Estate Education, 120+ Hours of Arizona Real Estate Education

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