ABOUT OUR FIRM
Our approach to residential design is simple—we listen, we learn, we draw. At Fergus Garber Architects, we see our clients as creative collaborators. Our relationship is a building block that paves the way to a home that is truly designed for you, and by you. To us, it's more than just a structure. It's a place where life happens and memories are made. A haven of respite and renewal. It's your home.
Our roots in the San Francisco Bay Area run deep. For more than 35 years, we have remained dedicated to beautifying communities one house at a time. Our designs are current yet timeless, approachable yet sophisticated. They exude craftsmanship and emanate comfort and joy for all those who wander by them on the street and enter through their doors.
We value style and substance which we prove through our environmental stewardship, local historical research, and building science studies. Whether we are conceptualizing a sustainable, modern design that will endure the ages or restoring a turn of the century architectural icon, we are passionate about our community and our projects, and the families who will call them home for generations to come.
Our goal is for you to find joy in the journey and beauty in the destination. We want you to love where you live.
CATHARINE AND DAN GARBER
WHAT WE’RE KNOWN FOR
LISTENING AND COMMUNICATION
It’s your home. You know how you want to live. We’re here to help make it happen.
We believe that communication is essential to the creative process. By listening to you, our most valued collaborator, we design homes that reflect your unique style and lifestyle. To us, mutual trust, respect, and appreciation are every bit as crucial as knowledge and experience when it comes to building the home of your dreams.
Home is where life happens. But as life changes, a home should be designed to support change as it comes. At FGA, we design forever homes.
We work hard to think ahead and design houses that remain authentic and inspired by anticipating how the family’s use of the home will evolve over time. Many of our clients still live in the houses we created for them as many as 30 years ago. They have “good bones” and meld seamlessly into the neighborhood for a been-there-forever appeal. For this reason, FGA has become the go-to firm in our area for new residences on complex sites and renovation projects on historic homes. We are skilled at unearthing and preserving the essence of a home while ensuring that the home supports modern living and mitigates today’s climate and energy demands.
Whether we are starting fresh or giving an older home a second chance, we believe that a home’s longevity, or usefulness over time, is a measure of the success and quality of its design.
Your plan is what makes your home livable; its style makes it memorable.
The plan of your house is primary; developing together with you the plan for how you want to live is one of our greatest strengths. As an expression of the plan, a home’s style is developed through a very fluid exercise exploring themes and variations. We draw inspiration from many styles to express the individuality of each client. Attention to composition, proportion, detail, material, and color are important regardless of the style being pursued. In the end, our goal is beauty in whatever form the house takes.
We view our portfolio of houses as a living laboratory for us to learn from.
Regardless of size, style, or budget, all of the homes we design benefit from our expertise in sustainability. Our in-residence environmental engineer builds best practices for the entire firm and is involved in every project. This isn’t a separate service or additional cost. It is a prerequisite to the design of all our houses. Some clients want to go a step further and have us utilize LEED for Homes, Passive House, or other sustainable methodologies. We support and lead these efforts.
Because the technologies of sustainability are constantly evolving and improving, we return to the houses we designed after several years and survey the equipment, analyze utility bills, and interview our past clients to better understand how the houses are performing so we can design even better homes.
Let us be your guide.
Planning for your project can be an exhilarating experience and, at FGA, we strive for it to be! But there is no greater joy than reaching your final destination: home. Your home may be your family’s longest-held and most expensive asset and often the largest, longest, and most complicated effort a family ever undertakes. As trusted architects, we are there to navigate the journey for you and get you where you want to be. At FGA, we help establish goals and objectives at the beginning of the project that include aesthetics, program, cost, and schedule. We help you navigate the coordination of people, parts, and paths to help you feel confident in your project.
CATHARINE FERGUS GARBER
Founder and Partner
DAN GARBER, FAIA
Principal of Finance and Administration
In 1988, from the home office of her 700-square-foot coach house in Chicago, CATHARINE FERGUS GARBER launched the Fergus Garber Group with only one associate— her 6 month-old son who often napped beside her in a file drawer or played at her feet. Much has changed since the early days of her career, but a few things remain the same: Cath’s dedication to her clients and craft and her keen ability to strike a balance between patience and persistence and flexibility and decisiveness.
Cath relocated with husband Dan to Palo Alto in 1996 for what was deemed a temporary move at the time. But after a mere two years, the couple fell in love with California and vowed to make it their permanent home. An avid outdoor-enthusiast, Cath was instantly captivated by the lush landscape and temporal weather which is evident in her work. Regardless of architectural style, Cath’s homes are inspired by their relationships to nature and the richness of earthly materials including exposed wood, rough stone, and wrought iron.
Cath credits a sixth-grade art assignment with unleashing her inner architect and calling her to pursue her Bachelor’s degree in Art History from Middlebury College. She went on to complete her Master’s degree in Architecture from the University of Illinois Chicago, and it was during graduate school that Cath developed her appreciation for historic styles. Since then, she has led dozens of renovation projects on historic homes in California and across the country. At the same time, Cath likes to stay on top of the trends and best practices in new design and construction - together with her FGA team, she has designed over 100 forever homes for her dear clients.
“I find the problem-solving aspect of design to be stimulating. Often, it can force me to think and rethink a decision or detail which can result in a different idea or a totally new perspective. Staying open-minded and adept at working with the changing goals or constraints that come along, really make a design more thoughtful and, even better.”
DAN GARBER’s true love is design. Finding the right architecture to express his clients’ lifestyles and support how they want to live brings him great enjoyment and satisfaction.
Dan approaches every project as the development and refinement of an architectural narrative. The design is a story of who a client is and how they want to live in a home they will call their own for many years.
Dan’s deep appreciation for architecture and design transcends styles and periods. An expert in researching and working in many architectural styles, he has vast knowledge of historic designs and details. Coupled with his aesthetic sensibilities, this insight has shaped his ability to adapt historic designs to modern standards so that each project is different and new. Dan continues to stretch the design palette of the firm and especially enjoys working in contemporary styles, driven by the challenge of creating a modern architecture that is warm and inviting.
Although his heart has been in residential design for more than 40 years, the path to Dan’s design practice has not been a straight one. After earning his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Carnegie Mellon in 1979, he joined the renowned firm of Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM) in Chicago. During his time there, he recognized the great need for organizational development and program management for his corporate and institutional clients. He broke away from SOM in 1990 to broaden the scope of his work to include management consulting and, in doing so, created an alternative path for the profession and set a new important standard for architects in the business world. Dan was elevated to Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) in part for this significant contribution.
Dan’s work serving Sun Microsystems with Jones Lang LaSalle brought the Garber family to Palo Alto in 1997. In his spare time, Dan assisted Catharine designing single-family homes. Dan officially joined FGA in 2002, bringing with him strong management skills and a rich business history that helped grow the firm from three employees to twenty and keeps FGA running smoothly today. Dan’s professional experience has shaped the way each team member brings highly tailored services to every client.
Dan’s management and design expertise has benefitted a variety of arts, educational, and civic organizations in Palo Alto. Among his most notable endeavors was service as a Commissioner on Palo Alto’s Planning Commission (2005-2012) and Chair (2008-2010). Beyond these contributions, Dan is a frequent speaker on Palo Alto’s architectural history and a tireless advocate for the city’s green policies and sustainable practices. He has been lauded for his continued efforts and achievements as an industry ambassador and civil servant.
“Regardless of size or budget, what we are good at is finding the right architecture for each client. Relationships, trust, and service are the cornerstones of our practice.”
American Institute of Architects, Fellow, since 2014
American Institute of Architects 25 Year Award Nominating Committee, since 2017, Co-Chair (2017-2019)
American Institute of Architects Committee on Design, San Francisco Design Conference (2017-2019)
City of Palo Alto Citizens Advisory Committee on the Comprehensive Plan Update, Co-Chair (2015-2017)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Architecture + Design Accessions Committee (2013-2019)
Tour of Birge Clark’s Palo Alto Works, AIA National Conference, Producer (2009)
City of Palo Alto Planning and Transportation Commission (2005-2012), Co-Chair (2008-2010)
TheatreWorks Repertory Theatre, Trustee (2005-2012)
Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo, President (1998-2003)
MAUREEN BUCKLEY provides cheerful and meticulous accounting and administrative support to the FGA team and the broader network of clients, consultants and businesses that FGA partners with.
Maureen came to FGA in 2009 seeking a part-time accounting position with a family-friendly company, but her role quickly evolved with the firm’s strong growth. Prior to raising her four children, she spent many years as an auditor with a large public accounting firm. She credits both of these life experiences as key elements of her education beyond her Bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of San Francisco. When she’s not number crunching for the firm or enjoying time with family and friends, you can find Maureen around town running, riding her bike, or walking her Greater Swiss Mountain dog.
“As an accountant, I’m intrigued by architects because they’re simultaneously technical and creative. I remain in constant awe of my colleagues’ talents and believe that their drive elevates my drive. I feel that I should say something about numbers and spreadsheets, but it’s the architects I work with - smart, fun, creative, kind, positive, and open-minded - that make my job so rewarding!”
The path to SNEHA AVARGERIMATH’s career is a unique one: she fell in love with architecture during the design and construction of her own family home in Australia and went on to pursue her architecture degrees at the University of Melbourne.
Upon graduation, Sneha spent two years working on high-end residential projects across Australia followed by one year working on commercial projects in San Francisco. After spending several summers with family in Palo Alto, Sneha decided to permanently relocate to the Peninsula to pursue her love of residential design and joined FGA in 2015. She loves the challenge of leading projects of different styles, scales and goals. With her clients, she focuses on building trust through open communication and fostering a collaborative atmosphere across the project team. Born in India and raised in Australia, Sneha enjoys traveling with her husband or diving into a great design book.
“I’m a very visual person so, naturally, I’m inspired by beautiful imagery. I have a deep appreciation for stellar design and like to pull from a large library of design books and magazines. Researching online sources, like Instagram and Pinterest, spark new ideas and embolden me to try innovative details and design solutions.“
VICTORIA CARDOZO joined FGA in 2020 after graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a Supplementary Major in Italian Studies.
While at Notre Dame, Victoria served one year as the Vice-President of the Student Association for Women in Architecture, and was active in clubs including Students for Classical Architecture, Students for New Urbanism, and Dance Company. She also spent a year abroad studying in Rome and traveling throughout Europe. These experiences inspired her thesis proposal for an immersive resort in the Azores that encourages visitors to interact with and learn from the locals, in an effort to fight cultural ignorance and enclave tourism. In her free time, Victoria can be found planning her next trip, crafting and painting, trying new recipes, and eating what turns out well.
“Architecture can affect how people experience spaces in ways they may have never considered. Having the ability to enhance that experience for someone and make a space more meaningful or comfortable is something that I’m passionate about and proud of.”
DANIEL COLVARD joined Fergus Garber Architects in 2020 with over 10 years of design and construction experience on custom residential, civic, and commercial projects.
A registered architect in Pennsylvania, Daniel holds a Master’s Degree in Architecture from Yale University and a Bachelor’s Degree from Dartmouth College. He currently teaches classes in architectural design at Stanford University. Outside of work and teaching, he enjoys playing ice hockey and soaking up the California sunshine with his wife, son, and their beloved hound.
“As an architect, I try to hold a broad, adaptable mindset. There are so many variables to weigh: client desires, site and environment, scale and proportion, materials, technique, not to mention regulatory constraints, time, and cost. I find it tremendously rewarding to partner with our clients and find harmony among the elements unique to each project and community.”
American Institute of Architects
OLIVIA DELBONO became a part of the FGA team in 2018 after graduating from CalPoly, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Architecture and minors in Construction Management and Sustainable Architecture.
At FGA, Olivia appreciates the unique perspectives of her clients and finds joy throughout the design process from initial space planning to interior finishes and construction details. Prior to FGA, Olivia gained practical experience completing an internship with Tesla for the design of their new campus and with Kitchell Construction for managing school construction in Sacramento. As a student, Olivia was awarded scholarships from the Association of Women in Architecture and the National Association of Women in Construction. She studied architecture abroad in the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Mexico. Besides feeding her addictive hunger for travel and foreign languages, she enjoys painting, woodworking, and cooking in her free time.
“An architect’s greatest strength is her ability to interpret a client’s dream into an idea and, ultimately, into a reality. It is both a skill and an art. Our architects are adept at translating between the languages of building code, our consultants, and our clients to design them a home that truly speaks to their aesthetics and needs.”
GINA DIXON loves collaborating with her clients through the home design process and bringing their projects to life.
Licensed in California and Washington D.C., Gina worked for several years with custom residential architecture firms in Santa Monica and Washington, D.C. prior to joining FGA in 2016. Gina is an honors graduate of the University of Notre Dame where she studied classical and traditional architecture and completed research abroad in Rome and Greece. Since then, she has continued to pursue her passion for international travel and has spent time visiting New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, and Canada with her husband. Having grown up in Ohio, Gina takes full advantage of the sunny California weather by spending her weekends outdoors hiking with her daughter, playing pickleball, or sketching.
“I strive to successfully create beautiful structures for our clients while keeping the process fun and joyful. At FGA, we want our clients to be an integral part of the process and, most importantly, happy with the final product - their home.“
American Institute of Architects
SAM FISCHER joined FGA after earning his Master of Architecture degree from the University of Notre Dame in 2020.
Upon graduating, he received the Dean’s Graduate Award for Design Excellence in Architecture and an Acanthus award recognition from the Chicago Institute of Classical Architecture and Art for his thesis work. Sam’s architectural education has taken him around the world, having spent time studying and traveling in Rome and throughout Italy, and also Greece and Guatemala where he furthered his love of traditional architecture and urbanism.
Prior to earning his Master’s degree, Sam received his Bachelor’s degree in writing and literature from the University of Wisconsin—his home state. Outside of the office, you can find him honing his culinary skills in the kitchen or enjoying the great outdoors.
'One of the things that excites me about the field of architecture, is the pursuit of lifelong learning. As an example, I see hand-drawing as a lost art that I am dedicated to practicing and preserving. To me, a drawing is one of the greatest tools that can be used to clearly communicate a three-dimensional idea in a two-dimensional manner.'
SAIZWIN KADIWALA earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from K.R.V.I.A, a design-based school in Mumbai, prior to earning her master’s degree in Architecture from Savannah College of Art and Design.
As a native of India, Saizwin has experience working abroad in both residential and commercial architecture, a great asset for FGA and their clients. Saizwin finds design inspiration in daily interactions with her clients and colleagues and from traveling and closely observing the world around her. Outside of work, Saizwin enjoys cooking a variety of cuisines from around the world.
“As a designer, I have the power to shape lives through spaces. Taking an idea and helping to build it into a reality motivates and inspires me.”
ELIZABETH LABRA brings a unique perspective and diverse range of work experience in luxury lifestyle brands to FGA.
Elizabeth launched her career in New York City where she merged her love for architecture and fashion as a Store Planning Project Manager for an Italian luxury fashion house. There she managed the design, development and construction of their North American stores for five years. In 2019, Elizabeth and her husband traded Brownstones for Victorians and relocated cross-country to San Francisco. She spent weekends walking and admiring the city’s architecturally-rich homes and neighborhoods—an exercise that encouraged her to reconnect with her passion for residential design.
Elizabeth holds a Master’s degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly Pomona, which included a wondrous year studying Renaissance architecture in Florence, Italy.
“Empathy is an important quality that often gets overlooked when hiring an architect. We design spaces for others, and we can’t do that without taking the time and initiative to walk in their shoes. It is critical to designing a home that—functionally and aesthetically—reflects who they are and the way they want to live.”
JILLIAN LANGLEY is a versatile project manager who works on an array of home designs from extensive historic remodels to high-end custom residences.
Regardless of the project or its size, Jillian's goals remain the same: to efficiently organize her projects and to clearly communicate ideas with clients and contractors. More broadly, Jillian is a leader in ensuring office productivity as well, assisting with ArchiCAD technology and optimizing graphic standards. Prior to joining FGA, she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from CalPoly, San Luis Obispo. Outside of work, Jillian enjoys hiking, baking, and playing with her vizsla puppy Gus.
“I love getting to know my clients so well that I can often anticipate their preferences and reactions before they even share them with me. This deep insight guides me in crafting a design that is tailored to their tastes based solely on the information we have exchanged throughout the project. Even once it’s complete, I am thankful for the bond we develop that stretches far beyond just that of client-architect.”
KRISTEN LOMAX enjoys getting to know her clients well, sketching design solutions, and carefully analyzing the site to lead her project teams through the complexities of design to construction.
For over a decade, Kristen has designed a variety of custom homes throughout Silicon Valley. At FGA, beyond her role as a senior project manager, she helps manage the firm by coordinating project assignments, staffing, and mentoring. Kristen earned a Master’s Degree from Tulane University in New Orleans where she received an award for academic excellence and leadership. She also studied architecture abroad in New Zealand. Growing up, Kristen lived all over the U.S. as both her parents were professors at a number of universities. Early exposure to a variety of architectural styles—from the New England shingle style, to the Midwestern craftsman, to the New Orleans Victorian—solidified her love of architecture. Outside of FGA, Kristen can be found chasing around her active daughter, trying to relax with her husband, and planning adventures for her family.
“I’m one of those lucky people who gets to go into the office everyday and do what I love. I'm passionate about architecture and find inspiration in the talented people I work with, in the places I have travelled, and in precedents of great architects.'
American Institute of Architects San Mateo Chapter, Secretary 2016-2018; Scholarship Committee Chair, 2018
Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), Advisory Group 2017-2018
LUKE MORTON joined FGA as the sustainability manager after cultivating years of experience as an environmental engineer working with some of the country’s leading building energy organizations.
Luke's background includes positions with the U.S. Green Building Council in Washington D.C.; the Rocky Mountain Institute in Boulder; the Southface Energy Institute in Atlanta; and Viron Energy Services in Oakland. During that time, he was instrumental in supporting a carbon-based standard that will be incorporated into the LEED criteria, evaluating the effectiveness of the “smart” thermostat, and serving as a HERS rater inspecting more than 500 new single-family houses for ENERGY STAR and EarthCraft House certifications. He also led the energy audit of the entire Community College District of San Mateo.
Luke is a graduate of Stanford University where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Earth Systems and Master of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. In his free time, he enjoys baking in his solar oven, playing the ukulele in a local bluegrass band, and lecturing about building science to Stanford undergrads.
“Improved sustainability is not a static, intrinsic aspect of any material or process - rather it’s a relationship with the world around it which can take many forms. Among the most important is the 'culture' of sustainability fostered at FGA between materials and process and the clients. As an engineer, my greatest strength is optimizing a building’s services while maintaining crucial design elements and aesthetics.
And in the greater service of sustainability, we know that the underlying durability of our projects is not in the life of the materials and systems, but rather in the durability of purpose and form - a home that stands up to the elements indefinitely, as well as withstanding the test of time in the seasons of life for our clients.”
While the scope of ALLISON PELL’s work is diverse—ranging from transitional renovations to contemporary new builds—each one benefits from her acute eye for detail and feature intricate architectural elements that she often draws by hand.
Allison has extensive experience with local zoning codes and is energized by the schematic phase, particularly the process of seeing different ideas come together to create a cohesive, organized result. She joined FGA in 2012 after graduating with honors from CalPoly, San Luis Obispo. As a student, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Denmark where she developed a love for Scandinavian architecture. Outside of FGA, Allison enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.
“For me, being able to communicate clearly through a drawing is crucial. Whether it’s free-hand sketching for a client or presenting technical drawings to a general contractor, I revel in the challenge that comes with working out the details and communicating them through visuals.”
KURT RODRIGO, a Southern California native, joined FGA in 2018 after gaining years of experience designing commercial and custom residential projects in New York City.
Kurt focuses his practice on listening well, carefully calculating design decisions, and being aware of the continually shifting complexities of a project. He strives to balance creativity with practicality and enjoys helping clients identify what they find visually appealing. Kurt earned a Master’s Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University and graduated with honors from CalPoly, Pomona. Outside of the office, you’ll find him playing sports, traveling, reading, and watching reruns of the sitcom, “The Office.” He enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, family and chi-weenie, Brooklyn.
“Thanks to modern technology, I find a world of inspiration through online research. When I identify a special project, I study it because there is always a lesson to be learned from precedents. I can employ what I've discovered in a new way and see where the results lead.”
CAMILLE SHAMBLE is fueled by the talent of FGA team members and their exceptional projects and works diligently to share their stories and successes.
Camille has led FGA's marketing efforts since joining the firm in 2018. A licensed architect (Oregon) with advanced degrees in architecture, she draws on her extensive knowledge and education to promote the firm. She nurtures strong relationships with clients and consultants and coordinates outreach through the website and various print and social media outlets.
Prior to joining FGA, Camille completed a PhD in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Virginia. During her program, she taught architectural history and design courses and held research fellowships at Dumbarton Oaks Library in Washington D.C. and the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena. She holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Oregon and a Bachelor of Arts from U.C. Santa Barbara. If you’re looking for Camille outside of office hours, you can likely find her at the park chasing her three young daughters.
“Day after day and project by project, I garner a new appreciation for our architects. I’m enlightened by the grace and ease with which they manage such complex tasks, and by the creativity, artistry, and whimsy they impart while staying focused and detail-oriented. As a result, our projects speak for themselves and that makes my job quite simple.”
National Council of Architectural Registration Boards
LAUREN TILTON draws inspiration for her designs from the neighborhoods around her. She pulls from classic styles and spins those elegant proportions and original details to give them a more modern look and feel.
Lauren, a licensed architect (New York), has extensive experience in custom residential and hospitality design including resorts, club houses, and wineries in New York, Boston, and San Francisco prior to joining FGA in 2019. Lauren’s love for architecture sprouted at an early age as she watched her mother, who is also an architect, design custom homes from her home office. She remembers stomping around job sites in work boots and a hard hat as early as four years old. Lauren graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture. While in school, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Rome and travel throughout Europe for a year. In her free time, she loves to travel, cook, and search for new plants to add to her ever-growing windowsill garden.
“Our architects come from many different backgrounds and have unique experiences that enrich and diversify our work. Our firm culture is one of collaboration and comradery and that is evident in how we work with one another and with our clients as well.”
American Institute of Architects
National Council of Architectural Registration Boards
A Designer’s Home
Palo Alto’s Irene Au, a tech-industry designer, shares what she learned anew about the design process while working on her family home with Fergus Garber Architects.
Palo Alto’s Architect
FGA founding partners, Catharine and Dan, were introduced to Birge Clark’s work soon after they arrived in Palo Alto from Chicago in the 1990s. Impressed by his legacy, they have studied his work and shared their knowledge of his practice.
FGA Rebranding with Stitzlein Studio
In 2020, FGA worked with Stitzlein Studio to create a new comprehensive brand system that captures FGA’s spirit.
FGA’s Sam Fischer Wins Prestigious Design Award
Institute of Classical Art and Architecture, Chicago-Midwest Chapter
Recipient of the FIRM AWARD
American Institute of Architects, Silicon Valley, 2018-2019
Palo Alto at 125 Years
Presented at the Annual Meeting for Palo Alto Stanford Heritage, 2019
Our people are at the heart of every project. We value each team member’s unique voice and vision just as we value those of our clients.
Our environment of reciprocal learning enriches team members at every level and promotes a spirit of equality and camaraderie. We recognize excellence with competitive salaries and benefit packages and through bonuses and reimbursements for the completion of architectural license exams. We support professional development by sponsoring participation in local and national industry conferences and events and through annual memberships to AIA and NCARB.
As “people” people, FGA encourages work-life balance and personal growth by offering flexible, family-friendly schedules, and incentives including pre-tax dollars for public transit costs and bicycle commuter allowances to reward those committed to healthy and eco-conscious living.
Our eyes and doors are always open to new talent. Whether you’re an architecture student ready to make a difference or a seasoned professional hoping to make a change, we welcome you to reach out to us by email at email@example.com. Please include a current resume and a portfolio of work.