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Craig Steely
Courtesy Craig Steely Architecture Craig Steely

It’s hard to stand out from the large collection of exceptional firms practicing in California, but Craig Steely has made a name for himself with finely detailed custom homes and apartment renovations recognized for their architectural rigor. “We’re focused on design,” Steely says. “And we like working with people who think less is more.”

Indeed, the firm is known for crisp, clean lines and for work with “formal elegance in the classic modernist tradition.” But it’s not all about design. Along the way, Steely has built a reputation as a problem-solver—handy for his efforts in both San Francisco and Hawaii.. “We’ve somehow developed a reputation as the one to call if you have a difficult lot but you want something special that fits,” he says.

The firm has remained small and chooses projects with a discerning eye. Although most of the commissions are for custom homes and interiors, Steely is not opposed to other types of work. “We wouldn’t mind a small big project,” such as a small museum or cultural center. “The type of projects that Rick Joy gets,” Steely jokes. “We’re looking for something with the details and proportions that a house has.”

What is the most gratifying aspect of residential practice?

My favorite clients become my friends.

What is the most frustrating aspect?

None that I can think of.

What is your mission statement or firm goal?

One strong idea.

What is the most indispensable tool in your office?


What software does your firm use?

Rhino, AutoCAD, HB pencil.

Who is your ideal client?

Someone complex enough to want a simple house.

What is your favorite building?

Casa Malaparte

If you didn’t have the time to design your own house, who would you hire?

A Chilean—Smiljan Radic or Mathias Klotz.