Peter Pfau

Principal, Design Director, San Francisco

Peter approaches architecture through the prism of fine art. He studied sculpture and painting at the California College of the Arts, and ultimately turned his interest in carpentry into a business. While running his business, it dawned on Peter that architecture brought together his love of building and aesthetic enterprise, so he returned to school to earn his architecture degree.

Peter brings his love of art and building to all of his work. He believes that great architecture lifts the spirits of its inhabitants and that each new project presents an opportunity to learn. Never tiring of the process, Peter is always amazed by how much there is to discover and how much that can inform decisions about the design.

A San Francisco native, Peter spends every Saturday cycling with a group of local designers and developers. He views cycling as an extension of his passion for green architecture – it’s an energy-efficient way of experiencing the world.

Cruise Ship Terminal at Pier 27
The site engages the Embarcadero, offering significant public access to the waters edge and provides an important new civic connection to the Embarcadero promenade experience.

For Peter, each new project is like a new learning opportunity. He always learns something he didn’t know before. For the cruise ship terminal project, Peter had to understand the cruise ship industry, the size of the ships, the process for unloading, and the user experience. When he worked on projects at the Grand Canyon, he had to understand the histories of the canyon, the Forest Service, the railroad, and the seven Native American tribes that consider it a sacred place.

The Randall Museum
Through coordination of architectural design, interpretive graphics, and live animal exhibits, the team created a place of comprehensive scientific and artistic exploration.
City College of San Francisco, Multi-Use Building
This LEED Gold-certified project employs a multitude of sustainable design elements including a state-of-the-art, wind-driven natural ventilation system through the full building that takes advantage of the local prevailing winds by allowing natural ventilation from the perimeter rooms to be exhausted out through the glazed skylights at the roof level. The central atrium that serves as the “lungs” of the building, organizing circulation and facilitating natural ventilation strategies.
SPUR Urban Center
With its transparent, open design and proximity to major transit, the design allows SPUR to host more events in its own location, helps SPUR connect to a network of urban centers with which to share exhibits and library collections, and earn income through seminar and event rentals.
“I know my project is a success when my client and its users are excited about it as I am.”

Early in his career, Peter founded the firm Holt Hinshaw Pfau Jones which won the design competition for the Astronaut’s Memorial, considered the 25th monument.

Astronauts Memorial
The Astronaut’s Memorial at Kennedy Space Center uses space industry-based technology to eternally emblazon the manes of America’s fourteen fallen astronauts in intensified sunlight across a monumental reflection of the sky above.

Peter's Featured Work

Building O
San Francisco, California
1 De Haro
San Francisco, California
Enchanted Hills Camp
Napa, California
San Francisco Friends School
San Francisco, California