We’re pleased to announce the promotion of Jim Westover to Principal at WDA. Since 2010, Jim has helmed our residential practice in a way that fosters team unity and encourages meaningful connections with clients.
Jim enhances WDA’s residential practice with a number of skills. First, he starts with a strong sense of the Bay Area’s history and place. Raised in San Jose, Jim earned his undergraduate and Master of Architecture degrees at UC Berkeley, and has spent his adult life in San Francisco. This understanding of the breadth of the region translates into a practical approach to projects depending on their location. In San Francisco, where there is little buildable space, he considers design challenges to resemble “moving puzzle pieces around in a constrained area, making it work.” In contrast, more spacious properties outside the city present more opportunities to take advantage of what’s there: “you really have to work with the site, the land, the views, where the sun shines, the locations of trees—these features drive the design.”
Jim also possesses the practical experience to make homes shine. He started his career at K+CZL Associates where he worked on the historic preservation of St. Joseph’s Cathedral in San Jose, and later moved on to FME Architecture + Design, where he worked for 17 years on a variety of projects from large-scale commercial developments and corporate offices to churches, schools and private residences. During this time, he and his wife personally renovated two homes in San Francisco. Jim applied lessons learned in commercial projects to his own residences: “you have a limited budget, so you find clever ways to insert good design into the project.” He also found his familiarity with commercial construction materials such as concrete, steel, and glass translated to modern residential design. As he’s developed as a designer, Jim now gravitates to opportunities to add warmth to homes through a palette of natural materials.
Renovating his own homes inspired Jim to found a residential firm. He appreciates the variety of novel design opportunities and the more personal client relationships that residential projects afford. From the outset of a new project, Jim works to understand how his clients would like to live. He and his team spend time in clients’ current homes to determine their needs and how they live now, and go through images of “likes and don’t likes” that clients assemble on Houzz design books and Pinterest pages. Jim particularly enjoys using his experience, both as an architect and as a parent, to guide families towards comfortable new homes. In school, he says, he “learned to envision the story of how people live, how they use space, how they view a house.” Having raised two children in the city, Jim can better anticipate many aspects of a family home’s story.
Teamwork is an important part of Jim’s contribution to WDA. He values collaboration and mentorship, and brings an approachable manner and sense of humor to his projects. Outside the office, Jim enjoys the camaraderie of competing against other industry members as a longtime participant in the San Francisco Architects Engineers and Contractors Softball League. And for the past several years, he’s applied his collaborative approach to serving his community. As the project architect for San Francisco’s Lincoln Park Steps renovation, Jim volunteers his time and expertise to a team that has envisioned, designed, and constructed a creative renewal of this public space. In the spirit of community, Jim aspires to work on projects that combine cutting edge, sustainable design of his residential projects with the scale of commercial projects, so that large numbers of people can enjoy the created space.
Congratulations, Jim, and we look forward to working with you as Principal!
©Mike Koozman, SF Examiner