Cathy Simon, FAIA, LEED AP

Design Partner
CathyJSimonFAIA Architecture + Urbanism


A book entitled “Occupation:Boundary Art, Architecture and Culture at the Water”, published by ORO Press, and due to be released Spring 2022;
UC Berkeley Design Review Committee
University of Washington Architectural Commission
Board of Trustees, San Francisco Art Institute


This is a very broad question. I am inspired by the potential of architecture to make wonderful and inspiring places for people, to foster through its work issues of equity and social justice, to address climate change proactively, to enhance wellness and well-being and to restore a sense of the civic to public life. A profoundly social art, architecture can bring beauty and resilience to people’s everyday lives. I am particularly excited about our proactive role in cities, and our ability to make a tangible difference in an urbanizing world.


I have been involved from early days in helping the Center create a vision, and in spreading the word. With others I am helping raise both awareness and funds necessary to realize the Center.


To me the most exciting thing about the center is its “publicness.” Instead of hiding on the sixth floor of the Hallidie Building, the street-level Center will be the public, accessible and welcoming face of the design professions in the Bay Area. That it will become a gracious place for public gatherings, dialog, information, discussions will greatly expand our reach and impact as a profession. I hope too that it can be a place open to young people and kids to learn about what we and potentially they can do to make beautiful and equitable spaces that enhance human life and our seamless relation to the environment, both natural and built.


I see the Center as a locus of urban life in the future, with a vibrant set of public programs from lectures to conferences to informal gatherings focused on the power of design. It can be a place of welcome to the international design community, and to visitors interested in knowing more about our city, our landmarks and physical history, and our relationship to innovating and reimagining the future. I hope too that the Center might be a crossroads for the design and arts community to come together and exchange views in an elegant, beautifully designed place of inspiration and comfort where all are welcome. I also see partnerships with other institutions and groups that will emerge through imaginative programs as yet undefined.


I look forward to continuing to work for a long time, to spend time traveling, reading and learning new things.


More About Cathy Simon:

Cathy Simon’s five-decade long career has focused on transformative design at all scales. Her award-winning work comprises design for higher and secondary education, civic and commercial buildings, reinvention of historic structures, waterfront projects and urban design of numerous postindustrial Bay Area waterfront sites including the renovation of the Ferry Building and the masterplan for Treasure Island. Academic master plans include Harvard Futures, a study of Harvard in Allston, Brown in the Jewelry District, NYU Plans 2031, Stanford in Redwood City, and 2008 and 2017 Master Plans for Bard College, where she has also designed four buildings.

In 1986 she was elevated to Fellow of the American Institute of Architects for her work in Design. Educated at Wellesley College and Harvard Graduate School of Design, she was the William A. Bernoudy Architect in Residence at the American Academy in Rome in 2015 and taught architecture at both Stanford and UC Berkeley where in 1996 she was the Howard Friedman Distinguished Professor of Architecture in Practice.

From 1985-2008, Simon founded and led SMWM, a celebrated women-owned architecture and urban design practice with offices in San Francisco and New York. In 1999 SMWM won the AIACC Firm Award, the youngest firm to be so awarded. In 2008, SMWM joined Perkins + Will and from October 2015-January 2018, she served as a Senior Consulting Design Principal. A speaker, design juror and critic, Simon is a member of the University of Washington Architectural Commission and the University of California Berkeley Design Review Committee, the 2016 Board Chair of the Dutch organization OrangeGoesGreen, and in 2017-2018 was a Research Advisor for the Bay Area Resilient by Design Challenge.

From 1993-1997, she was President of the GSD Alumni Council and served several terms on the GSD Visiting Committee. She also served for 12 years as a Trustee of the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy from 1992 to 2005. Cathy’s design philosophy and expertise have made her a natural spokesperson for the burgeoning revitalization and resiliency of post-industrial waterfronts worldwide and she is currently an urban design and architecture consultant to a multi-firm engineering team developing the Port of San Francisco’s Waterfront Resiliency Program. Her book about design and the waterfront, Occupation:Boundary, Art, Architecture and Culture at the Water will be published in Spring, 2021.


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