Lewis Butler

AIA | President
Email 415-674-5554

Lewis Butler, AIA, is the founder and president of Butler Armsden Architects. His approach to architecture combines a deep understanding of a variety of historical traditions, and a profound sensitivity to urban and rural landscapes, with a bold optimism about what architecture can contribute to our future. He is as comfortable engaging with the challenges of building in the open landscape as he is within the compressed city environment. He feels that the entire process— whether it’s the vision of the architect, the ideas contributed by the client, the dynamic of the team on the project, or even the gauntlet of the regulatory process—is one of artistic production. He believes that architectural inspiration can come from elevated intellectual discussions, but also from the often-overlooked mechanics of life. He is comfortable discussing the works of Emerson and Thoreau, he has worked with William Turnbull Jr. of Sea Ranch fame, studied architectural theory with Peter Eisenman, and has a comprehensive knowledge of art and architectural history. He has also had direct construction experience, having performed all trades constructing two houses from the ground up early in his career. Butler believes in bringing a full set of skills to every assignment.

The firm’s work is actively overseen by Butler’s energetic approach, and emphasizes site-specific responses rather than the repeated application of a singular style. Butler focuses on producing work that is in conversation with both its own site, its specific requirements, and most importantly the role that architecture can have in influencing human experience and culture once it is built. Often, fine art, literary, and historical references exist in the work. Other times the statements are straightforward, and address ideas like the simplicity of a farm, or what it means to face west across the Pacific Ocean. Butler’s residences and recent multifamily projects have been recognized for their attention to context and the use of a diverse collection of ideas that inform the process as well as the outcome.

Butler’s work has been locally, nationally, and internationally recognized. He has been published in a variety of respected outlets such as the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, San Francisco Chronicle, Vogue Brasil, Dwell, Luxe, Dezeen, ArchDaily, Opumo, Habitat, and many more. The firm has received awards from the AIA, Luxe, and California Home + Design. Lewis is a respected communicator of his approach to architecture, and is highly regarded for his planning commission performances that go beyond a basic presentation, aspiring to educate the commissioners on the art and humanity that the building intends to bring to the community. His favorite audience, however, are the young students who come to the office multiple times a year to learn about architecture.

This love for teaching youth about architecture has led Butler and his firm to be an active philanthropic force in San Francisco. The firm has participated in a number of fundraising events such as the LEAP Sandcastle competition, where the team routinely eclipses records for raising funds for teaching art in the San Francisco Unified School System. Public and private school classes are invited to the office multiple times a year to learn about the profession, with students receiving on-on-one time with an individual architect. Every year Butler gives a presentation to Summerbridge, a program that offers middle school students advancement in education, and enlightens them about the role architecture plays in our culture. A recent thank-you card said, “Architecture is just amazing.” Another wrote, “I really am interested in architecture, and think it is a form of art - it is strange and cool how every house looks different.”

His geographic area of practice is the San Francisco Bay area, and the west coast states; he is licensed in California, Idaho and Washington.

Lewis received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Stanford University and his MArch from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.