A Culture of Employee Education and Mentorship

Fergus Garber Architects has established a unique culture of collaboration and empowerment that supports each individual along their professional journey.

FGA's culture is rooted in mindfully employing human resource strategies rather than traditional top-down mentoring structures to foster the development of young talent. These strategies include a learning studio environment that assigns emerging professionals to a project for its duration, flexible working schedules to support their life plans, and a horizontal office culture that places recent graduates directly alongside veterans and the firm’s partners from the beginning. Knowledge transfer is achieved through spontaneous and casual interactions, and is carefully fostered through a learning infrastructure consisting of weekly firm lunches, weekly sketch sessions, and paid travel to AIA national and other conferences. 

In line with our horizontal office structure, a strong emphasis on peer review is an important component of our company culture that supports the transfer of ideas and knowledge throughout the office. As a more broad approach to fostering an environment of learning and support, FGA utilizes peer review in multiple stages of the design process across all of our projects. After the initial design of a project, the architects on a given project present these designs to assigned peer reviewers who provide feedback and insight. Through this ongoing process, employees learn from each other’s unique knowledge set and perspectives. 

 Apart from mentorship strategies and company culture, FGA also supports designers' path to licensure. The firm achieves this primarily through NCARB IDP programs and an educational allowance. Employees can choose how to spend their allowance, and designers seeking licensure often utilize it for an Amber Book subscription or other resources in preparation for the ARE exams. 

The firm’s partners not only mentor their employees, but routinely participate in lectures, tours, educational programs, and programs in both the San Mateo, Santa Clara, and national AIA chapters.

One example of FGA’s community educational involvement is the ACE mentorship program which is open to students in grades 9-12, who are interested in exploring careers in architecture, construction, engineering and the building trades. Through this program, participants are mentored by experienced professionals and work in teams on construction projects. FGA employees have been involved as mentors and FGA provides a space for the organization to host their weekly program. 

The firm also supports students at university architecture programs more directly. Kristen Lomax, partner at FGA, has participated in the review of scholarship applications and awarding scholarships to exceptional young talent as a Scholarship Committee Chair of the San Mateo AIA board. For its extensive contributions to mentoring, FGA was recognized in 2015 with the AIA California Council AEP Mentorship Award. Fostering a supportive environment that enables career growth and continued learning remains a core value of FGA. This value not only creates a thriving culture for our employees, but also facilitates excellence in our craft. 


Want to talk? We’re ready to listen. Let us help you bring your project to life.

Contact us