Dubbed as The Biggest Little City in the World, Reno is home to a thriving casino and tourism industry as well as one of the country’s emerging technology hubs. Recently the city has become a popular option for tech giants and startups in its office locations. As one of the most enticing and fun places to live, a lot of people are currently moving to Reno: it has a population of 240,000 and a steady population growth rate.
The city is filled with Contemporary and Timber homes fitting Reno’s wetlands biodiversity and environment. People looking to build new homes should consider hiring an architect to ensure that everything goes well. On this list, you will find 15 of Reno’s best residential architects. These firms are experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to Nevada communities and their nuances.
Our team compiled a number of local architectural firms and assessed each based on rigorous criteria. We considered each firm’s work history, awards, and accolades, as well as the overall quality of their work. This list of Reno’s best is the result.
If you are thinking about building a custom home, we recommend checking each builder’s license with the local licensing board, speaking to past clients, and using our bidding system to get competitive quotes from at least 3 contractors. Getting multiple bids is the best way to ensure you get a fair price and that bids include the complete scope of work. On the other hand, if you want to learn more about the cost of building a custom home in Reno, check out our cost guide article.
Architectural Design Group
410 Mill St., Ste. #205, Reno, NV 89502
Winner of the Bann-er Award for Best of Show Custom Home in 2019 and various other awards, Architectural Design Group is known for performing consistent, high-level architectural design. Due to its strong Nevada roots, the firm has worked on over 250 residential and commercial projects since its inception in 2003. Sam Updike, the firm’s owner, is a native Nevada: he has a lifetime of firsthand experience of the necessities and nuances of living and building in the state. He went to Arizona State University and he has been in practice for a little shy of two decades. Alongside him is the principal architect and owner Rob Fabri, a sixth-generation Nevada native. The Updike and Fabri tandem has worked on various projects including tenant improvements, remodels, and new construction projects. Under their guidance, the team uses the most tech-savvy methods in architectural design. The firm uses a 3D rendering software for documentation and presentation.
The firm’s residential project portfolio showcases modern home styles that are suited to the Nevada landscape. The V-Residence, a 5,700 square-foot contemporary home, is among the firm’s finest designs. This residential project has an indoor-outdoor connection through openings and large windows and focused on incorporating many sustainable design features.
PO Box 6823, Incline Village, NV 89450
Banking on over 35 years of industry experience, James Borelli built his namesake firm to serve the states of Nevada and California. His experience working with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and strong familiarity with the local jurisdictions made Borelli Architecture one of the most beloved architectural firms in the Rena/Tahoe area. James Borelli graduated from the University of California Berkeley. Kelly Borelli is in charge of the firm’s interior design operations.
The firm focuses on single-family and multi-family homes, highlighting function and structure in its designs. The 5,159 square-foot house in the photo, for example, shows how the firm makes practicality gorgeous. The home has four bedroom suites and five-and-a-half baths. On top of that, the home has a family room / media room, mudrooms, and a three-car garage with a basketball hoop.
427 Ridge St., Suite C, Reno, NV 89501
Cathexes is an award-winning architectural firm that offers a well-rounded set of architectural services from planning to documentation to design. The firm borrowed its name from the Psychoanalytic term Cathexis which means a concentration of mental or emotional energy on an object, person, or idea. The firm offers a unique, community-centric approach to architecture and business. The firm has weekly and bi-monthly activities that develop relationships within the team and within the community. Cathexes also has a weekly wine time where friends, family, and clients socialize. Since the firm began its operations in 1985, the firm has garnered multiple design awards in architecture, planning and landscape architecture including the 1997 Nevada AIA Firm award a Gold Nugget Best of the West Grand Award, and the Concrete Masonry Design Award of Excellence presented by NCMA/ICPI in 2015. The firm is also featured in local media including the Reno-Gazette Journal, Northern Nevada Business Weekly, Reno News & Review, and Reno News Channel 4 KTVN.
The firm has built all sorts of projects from single-family homes to planned 3,000-acre developments. Looking at the firm’s portfolio, homeowners will find out-of-the-ordinary homes. The 2345 House, for instance, took inspiration from mid-20th century modern architecture in its simplicity and integration with nature.
Collaborative Design Studio
9444 Double R Blvd., Ste. B, Reno, NV 89521
Founded in 1978 by Peter Grove and Todd Lankenau, Collaborative Design Studio is a residential and commercial architectural firm dedicated to creating award-winning projects that balance practicality and idealism. The firm has garnered multiple project awards from local organizations and a LEED Gold certification. Grove and Lankenau emphasize the need for sustainable design and ways to help the environment through architecture. This effort is reflected in the firm’s works.
As seen on the pages of Green Building and Design Magazine, Sustainable Laboratory Architecture, American Builders Quarterly Magazine, and Nevada Magazine, the firm builds projects that bring harmony to the relationship between the home and its environment. The Pebble Beach Residence, pictured below, is a skillful integration of varying stoneworks. The 9,691 square-foot estate marries minerals and marble seamless all over from the outside in.
1005 Terminal Way, Ste. #245, Reno, NV 89502
Concept Architecture is an architectural firm that takes pride in its problem-solving capacity. The firm takes the time to learn about its clients and then resolve their known—and unknown—problems. Through its two offices in Nevada and Washington, the firm services five Western states. Established in the year 2000 by Martin Reimers, the firm serves as an extension of Martin’s expertise in architecture. Reimers studied Architecture at the University of Southern California. The firm translates Reimers’s experience in commercial architecture to all sorts of projects, including residential homes such as the Hardwick. This 3,177 square-foot estate has expansive views and a seamless layout that allows its homeowners to enjoy the Puget Sound landscape.
Dale Cox Architects
550 California Ave, Top Floor, Reno, NV 89509
With one eye in the past and another in the future, Dale Cox Architects makes timeless architectural designs. Founded in 1979, the firm constructs mountain, luxury, and resort homes within LEED-mandated practices. The firm’s eponymous leader is a 40-year industry veteran who studied at Harvard and in Florence, Italy. Cox’s leadership continues to steer the firm to prominence in California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Montana.
Dale Cox and the firm have completed 2,000 condominiums, over a hundred commercial buildings, and about 300 residential homes. Cox and his team also offer pre-cut timber, Geothermal techniques, Historic Restoration, and Green Building Practices. The firm’s selection of contemporary homes is equally functional and captivating. These homes pack modern living amenities such as wine cellars and home gyms. The home invokes a warm and cozy feeling without sacrificing high-level design and uniqueness.
Dean Abbott Architecture
1250 Bridlewood Way, Reno, NV 89509
In over 50 years, Dean Abbott Architecture has built luxury homes all over Reno and its surrounding area. The firm believes architecture is a form of art that shapes our everyday environment. The firm handles all steps of the process from architectural planning to design to maximize efficiency. The firm also offers estimates, project management, and construction administration.
The firm’s selection of luxury homes includes a masterful use of timberwork, stonework, and mountain luxury homes. The home in the photo depicts the firm’s discerning nature in its designs. The project has an interesting L-shape layout that follows the organic topography of the mountain. In sum, the beautiful home shows how well the firm knows Nevada’s unique landscape and how to use that environment to the advantage of its design.
650 S Rock Blvd., Ste. #14, Reno, NV 89502
FormGrey Studio is a boutique architectural firm founded in 2017. Despite being one of the more recently-established firms on this list, the firm has already gathered multiple industry awards including the AIA National Young Architect Award and the AIA Northern Nevada Residential Citation Award. FormGrey serves both Western US and Great Plains region through its offices in Nevada and Nebraska.
The concept of the firm came from the minds of Nathaniel Hudson, Matthew Ronhaar, Ross Miller, and Rachel Stewart. Each of the four principals has a unique background and training in the field. Hudson graduated Summa Cum Laude from the New School of Architecture and Design. Ronhaar combines expertise in large-scale projects and residential builds. Miller has an MBA from the University of Nebraska. And Stewart has extensive experience in Ireland and in the US. The combination of the four principals gives the firm a panoramic perspective on all of its architectural projects.
FormGrey’s portfolio is comprised of Contemporary and Modern home styles that take full advantage of their respective sites.
Hawkins & Associates
1400 S Virginia St., Reno, NV 89502
Under the tutelage of Jack Hawkins, Hawkins & Associates serve Reno neighborhoods with site-specific design and owner-suited architecture. Jack Hawkins has been practicing architecture for over 40 years. In those years, Jack has completed residential and commercial projects that are both functional and sustainable.
The firm begins its design process by considering the specific site, topography, and climate of each project. Then the firm studies the appropriate structure, technology, and mechanical systems. This meticulous process has been celebrated by publications including Tahoe Quarterly, Dwell, and Builder Magazine. This painstaking process produces projects that reflect the firm’s emphasis on function and sustainability.
The Fyda Residence, for instance, is a testament to Hawkins’ environmentally-sensitive design. This 4,200 square-foot Contemporary cabin-like home perfectly matches the elevated topography of the site.
JK Architecture and Engineering
275 Hill St., Ste. #225, Reno, NV 89501
JK Architecture Engineering is a leading-edge architecture and engineering firm offering over 35 years of design expertise in single family, multi-family, association and resort living. From traditional to contemporary design and everything in between, JKAE takes pride in listening to their clients’ goals and engaging them throughout the entire process. JKAE believes that collaboration is key, and their hands-on approach is personal, passionate, and proven.
This discerning eye and high-level of curation are reflected in the firm’s portfolio. Residential projects completed by JKAE are unique, with bespoke details. The Hunter Creek Residence is the perfect example of the firm’s workmanship. This home has a 360-degree view of Reno and surrounding mountains as it sits at 4,959 feet of elevation. Taking inspiration from a falcon in flight and in classical music, the home holds a triumphal feel and celebratory attitude. The home has a grand central hall that has an unobstructed view of the city and the Sierra. This architectural masterpiece in the desert won the 2018 BANN-ER Award for the Best New Home Product and the 2020 Tahoe Quarterly High Desert Award.
John Lundy Architect
775 Caughlin Xing, NW Reno, Reno, NV 89519
Armed with over 60 years of architectural experience, John Lundy designs with time-tested techniques. Lundy has brought together a team of professionals to fulfill his mission of improving the quality of life for each client. The firm services Sun Valley, Lemmon Valley-Golden, Spanish Springs, Cold Springs, and Patrick. The firm doesn’t cut corners in its designs: previous clients have lauded the firm’s attention to detail.
The firm’s array of Timber homes and Craftsman homes reflect Lundy’s decades-long architectural experience. The featured project shows a modest home built out of log and timber. The home has a symmetrical structure and simple features.
1155 W Fourth St., Ste. 225 #7, Reno, NV 89503
Gordon Magnin’s is one of the most experienced luxury design experts on this list. He earned a Master’s Degree in architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture and a Structural Engineering degree from the University of Nevada, Reno. In over 20 years of design experience, Magnin has worked on various projects from residential to retail and restaurant design. In 2018, he decided to put up shop on his own and started Magnin Architecture. The firm offers full-service design services that encourage a seamless transition in the design process. On top of that, the firm takes full advantage of the latest in architectural technology to present designs that are increasingly detailed. As the firm embraced new technology and modern techniques, it garnered the 2019 AIA Northern Nevada Design Awards.
Magnin’s imaginative and progressive design aesthetic is visible in its portfolio. Cabin Obscura, a retreat home for an airline pilot in Seattle, is one of Magnin’s highlights. The home was built on an enviable location with a movie-like backdrop. The finished home has over 1,000 square feet and ample living space.
Mercedes de la Garza Architect Studio
226 California Ave., Reno, NV 89509
Mercedes de la Garza has quite a background in architecture. She studied at the University of Texas at Austin for her bachelor’s, at the University of California, Los Angeles for her master’s, and Städelschule in Frankfurt, Germany for her post-graduate studies. She also worked under award-winning architects, including AIA Gold Medalist Charles W. Moore. Mercedes placed second in the International Competition for The Royal National Library in Copenhagen, Denmark, and is a NCARB certified architect. Her unmatched background in architecture is fully exercised in completing residential, commercial, and historic preservation projects.
The firm has been serving Reno, San Francisco, and Lake Tahoe for over 20 years. Throughout that time, the firm built multiple luxury cottage homes and modern farmhouse-style residences. The Stonefield, as you can see in the photos, is a massive luxury estate with organic stonework and a warm, cozy appeal.
You can learn more about Mercedes de la Garza Architect Studio on their website here.
Miles Architectural Group
Miles Architectural Group is a full-service architectural firm serving California and Nevada. Founded in 1998, the firm built a name for being detail-oriented and tightly-managed. Steven Miles takes the wheel in company leadership. He is skilled in architectural design and cutting-edge technology due to his studies at the University of Nevada, Reno and Arizona State University. His experience in large-scale commercial projects is matched by the practical knowledge and instincts of his co-captain, Doug Miles.
The firm’s experience in residential architecture spans in various designs from Craftsman to Traditional and Modern home styles. The featured project is a home that fuses Craftsman and Mediterranean home styles. The home has an updated classic look: clean and subtle.
Smith Design Group
120 Country Club Dr., No.17, Incline Village, NV 89451
Since 1989, Smith Design Group has been serving the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond. The firm commits to providing creative and innovative design solutions. The company provides services in land planning, interior design, agency consulting, feasibility studies, and 3D renderings. The firm performs work in residential, commercial, and civic projects. To maintain its standards and practices, the company is a member of the AIA.
The Bird’s Nest is one of Smith’s finest residential projects. The project is an elegant and massive Contemporary home with fine timberwork. The home has a multi-story structure that includes multiple decks and large windows with unobstructed views.
About Our Rankings
This list takes a range of ranking criteria into consideration, including but not limited to: work history, customer satisfaction, awards and recognition, geographic area of work, cost, building permits, and clientele. We spent over 40 hours researching local contractors before calculating the final ranking for this post. If there is additional information about your business that could affect these rankings, please fill out this form and we will take it into consideration.
Get Bids For Your Build
If you are thinking about building a custom home, we recommend checking each builder’s license with the local licensing board, speaking to past clients, and using our bidding system to get competitive quotes from at least 3 contractors. Getting multiple bids is the best way to ensure you get a fair price and that bids include the complete scope of work.