Javier Arizmendi


Principal - Design

San Francisco


Javier arrived at SOM in 1994 with degrees in engineering, art history, and architecture. He has since worked all over the globe, taking each project as an opportunity to delve into the client’s needs, and to provide a holistically informed and contextually appropriate building or master plan. 

Javier’s approach to design is deeply analytical, grounded in research and observation. He vets the suitability of new technologies for meeting project goals, devises refined ways to integrate building systems, and investigates architectural history for indigenous, low-carbon methods for managing local environmental conditions.

Practicing globally is not about finding a single solution that works everywhere. Enduring architecture comes from a scientific understanding of the particular opportunities and challenges of each place–the specific landscape, built environment, and material and social culture.

Javier’s work includes a variety of project types, from academic, science, and technology buildings to public and civic institutions, mixed-use high-rises, and transportation facilities. He has developed expertise in diplomatic and civic architecture, with an affinity for designing the kind of public spaces where we can feel secure and in touch with our shared humanity. 

A lifelong artist, Javier possesses a profound understanding of the conditions that inspire comfort, attachment, and nostalgia, and he is able to sensitively generate new conditions and possibilities through skillful abstraction. He applies insights from his painting practice, such as the careful study of light and space, in his architectural work.

As a lecturer at University of California, Berkeley, Javier encourages students to develop a similar depth of practice. He asks them not to privilege sight but to value all of their senses, allowing feeling and listening to be the foundation for haptic and acoustic design. Mentoring the next generation of globally-minded architects has long been important to Javier, who has established internship programs at SOM in partnership with Universities in Chile, Argentina, and Mexico.

Selected Work