Backen Gillam Architects is pleased to announce our company's name change. We are now Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects.
Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects was originally established in 1996 as Backen Gillam Architects, by principals Howard J. Backen, FAIA and Jim Gillam, AIA. The firm has two offices, one located in Sausalito near the San Francisco Bay waterfront and the other in St. Helena near Howard’s home in Oakville. Loren Kroeger along with principals Elizabeth Mitchell, John Taft and the firm’s 40 employees, bring a wide range of experience to Backen, Gillam & Kroeger projects. This experience enables the firm to provide clients with the very best in design and project management in a number of specialty building types, including private residences, resorts, restaurants and wineries. In the thirteen years since its opening, the firm has designed over 30 upscale homes, 30 wineries, six major resorts, 18 restaurants, a new line of retail stores called Williams Sonoma Home, an equestrian center, The Napa Valley Reserve (a private members-only vineyard and winery which has approximately 400 members), and the Performing Arts Center for St. Helena, CA.
Aside from being featured in numerous publications, many of the firm's projects have earned coveted design awards, including citations from Progressive Architecture, Grand Awards from the Pacific Coast Builders Conference, First Honor Awards from AIA/Housing Magazine and the Presidential Award for Design Excellence. In 1992, Howard J. Backen was awarded a Fellowship in the American Institute of Architects, which is the highest honor in the profession, and served as a juror for the 2001 California AIA awards. Howard has also recently been nominated one of the top 100 Architects in Architectural Digest and one of the top 30 in the Robb Report. In 2009, three resorts designed by the firm were listed in the 28th Annual Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report Survey of the World’s Best Hotels, Resorts & Hideaways. Hideaway Report readers ranked Esperanza as number 2 on the list of the Top 20 International Resort Hotels, while Meadowood was voted number 1 ,and Poetry Inn was voted number 8 on the list of the Top 20 Food & Wine Resort Hideaways. Recently, in Travel + Leisure's 2009 World's Best Awards, ranked Solage Calistoga number 11 out of the Top 50 Resorts in US/Canada.
After completing his education at the School of Architecture at the University of Oregon in 1961, Howard J. Backen, FAIA, along with fellow graduate, Robert V. Arrigoni, FAIA, decided they wanted to launch their careers in the city of San Francisco. In 1967 the two of them along with another University of Oregon graduate, Edgar B. Ross, FAIA, started their own practice called Backen Arrigoni and Ross (BAR). Howard remained in the highly successful firm for 35 years and saw it grow from the three of them to a staff of over 100.
The firm developed both small and large scale housing projects, high and low density, high and low income housing, student housing, and senior housing. Design also included urban, suburban, rural, and wilderness housing. In the 1980’s Backen Arrigoni and Ross (BAR) designed high-profile projects for the entertainment industry, which included Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, a summer lab for independent film makers, playwrights, choreographers, composers, and the Institute for Research Management. Howard helped Redford design a master plan for the community of arts which provides the framework for integrating existing facilities with new facilities into a cohesive planned environment. Howard designed the new facilities for the institute including a 150-seat screening room, a rehearsal pavilion, dining facilities, a general store, a base building for the ski hill and Sundance cottages which provide guest services for Sundance Institute participants and residents. Also included are the Disney’s Sound Studios in Burbank, and a score of other theaters. In the mid 80’s Howard had the privilege to design the headquarters for the Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco, an innovative and highly successful rehabilitation institute for former convicts and drug abusers. That project has not only won many awards for the humanitarian services it provides, but has also been recognized for the beauty and unique design it offers to the city of San Francisco. Most of Howard’s work on the project was pro bono as a service to the community. He was awarded the 1992 Award of Excellence by the Urban Land Institute for Delancey Street. The project’s success has been featured on ‘60 Minutes’ and numerous other TV programs and publications.
Also during this time, Howard designed the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, the home of the Aspen Music Festival, the International Design Conference in Aspen, and the Aspen Center for Physics. Additional projects included a Graduate Student Housing project on the Stanford campus in Palo Alto, and the Thoreau Hall Student Residence complex at the University of California, Davis campus. While at Backen Arrigoni and Ross (BAR), Howard designed a number of prototype stores for a then new store called Pottery Barn. The international projects Howard has designed include a ski resort in Korea, the Teacher’s Training Institute in Tehran, Iran, and Stars Restaurant in Singapore. The firm won a large number of AIA, HUD, and building industry awards, and has been published in numerous magazine articles and books.
In 1996 Howard made the decision to take his career in a slightly different direction and started an entirely new firm in the Napa Valley. That decision proved to be one of the most exciting decisions of his life. He remains 100 percent engaged in his new company and has no plans for retirement while he is still enjoying his work.
Jim Gillam, AIA holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and a Graduate Diploma from The Architectural Association, London, England. He is a licensed Architect in the State of California and is a member of The American Institute of Architects and The Architectural Association, as well as the National Council of Registration Boards.
Jim was awarded the Rotch Traveling Scholarship Alternate Prize in Architecture by the Boston Society of Architects. He traveled and studied the architecture of Southeast Asia, India, and Western Asia. After completing his education he gained professional experience while employed with excellent design firms in Boston, Sydney, London, and San Francisco.
Jim entered private practice in 1978, offering services to corporate and private clients. Throughout his career, Jim has received many design awards including a Progressive Architecture Design Award, and his work has been published in architectural periodicals and books, including New Architecture in San Francisco, Restaurant Design 3, and Casa Brava magazine.
In addition to these accomplishments, Jim has taught as a Visiting Lecturer in The Department of Architecture at the University of California at Berkeley. His talents as a designer and illustrator are well recognized; he received the Award of Excellence by the American Society of Architectural Perspectivists. In 2008 Jim was selected to be jury member for the Northern California Chapter of The ASLA Design Awards. Most recentley in 2009, Jim recieved a Santa Barbara Beautiful Award for Exterior Architecture of he Canary Hotel.
In 1996, Jim teamed up with Howard Backen and formed Backen Gillam Architects, with offices located in Sausalito and St. Helena. Presently a firm of over 40 employees, projects focus primarily on custom residential, wineries, restaurants and resort hotels.
Loren joined Backen Gillam Architects in 1997, where he has been a design principal since 2001, working in collaboration with Howard Backen and Jim Gillam on the design of many of the firm’s residential and resort projects. Among the recently completed projects to which Loren has contributed are several small, luxury resorts including Esperanza in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Cordevalle in San Martin, California, and Solage in Calistoga, California. He has also worked on numerous private homes throughout the Bay Area, as well as in Southern California, Wyoming, Arizona and New York.
Loren received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon in 1991, and has lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to joining the firm, Loren worked with several local architectural firms, gaining experience in a variety of project types including master-planning, public works, affordable housing, multifamily housing, as well as custom homes. He is a licensed architect in the state of California.