Daniel Backman of Santa Rosa's TLCD Architecture wins North Bay Forty Under 40 award

Daniel Backman

Age: 38

Principal, TLCD Architecture

520 Third St., #250, Santa Rosa 95401


Read other profiles of this year's winners.

Responsibilities with your company: As TLCD's Higher Education Practice Leader, I oversee the talented team in our education studio, build relationships with our clients and lead numerous exciting design projects. I also assist with firm management, with a particular focus on our people and culture.

In 25 words or less, how do you exemplify the spirit of being a top Forty under 40 professional?

I am bringing youthful energy and fresh ideas to the leadership of TLCD that will help our firm thrive and grow in this new decade.

Years with company: 4

Length of time in current position: 2 months

Number of companywide employees: 31

Number who report to you: 7

Greatest professional accomplishment: The successful renovation and reopening of Santa Rosa Junior College's Burbank Auditorium earlier this year after leading the $32 million renovation of this beloved heritage building.

Greatest professional challenge: Currently my biggest challenge is positioning TLCD to remain competitive in an increasingly competitive Higher Education space where the cost of pursuing a new project is very high and we are going head to head with large, national design firms.

Best advice received: My wife suggested that I grow a beard over 8 years ago and I've had it ever since.

Single most important event in your professional life in the last 12 months:

Promotion to Principal and Partner at TLCD at the start of 2020.

What steps is your company taking to sustain your organization and morale in the current economy?

Diversity is critical to TLCD's strategy to sustain our firm's continued success in this economy. We are diversifying our market sectors by branching out into multi-family housing work in addition our long time core markets of Education, Health Care and Civic.

This is especially critical given the dual crises of housing affordability and homelessness in our region. We are also diversifying our work force, recruiting talented young architects and designers from across California, the U.S. and abroad. This diversity in our workforce has brought new perspectives and energy to our firm.

Next professional goal: Landing TLCD's next major higher education project commission.

Education: Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Pennsylvania; Master of Architecture degree from University of California, Berkeley

Hometown: Boston

Community/nonprofit activities: Board member at the Petaluma Arts Center

Mentor/admired businessperson: Brian Wright, former principal at TLCD

What is your most disliked industry buzzword?


I think we need to get serious about energy use, waste, emissions and land use. We need to be specific and strategic about how we are addressing the many environmental challenges we face rather than just using generic buzzwords with little substance.

Typical day at the office: On any given day you are equally likely to find me reviewing progress on a construction site, leading a workshop with clients and stakeholders or hashing out architectural details with the my design team. I'm thankful for the richness and diversity of working as an architect.

Best place to work outside of your office: Acre Coffee

Hobbies: Painting, gardening, collecting records, mixing cocktails and renovating my historic home

What you wanted to be when you grew up: Astronaut (because of Star Wars), then archaeologist (because of Indiana Jones)

#1 thing you want to accomplish by the time you turn 40: Over the next two years I want to reshape TLCD's office culture

First job: My first job was as a professional artist - creating paintings and photographs on commission and for sale at Boston nonprofit Artists for Humanity

Social media you most use: Instagram

Favorite book: “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson

Favorite movie: “The Life Aquatic”

Favorite App: Mozzarella Sticks

Favorite after-work drink: Old Fashioned

Last vacation: Portland, Maine

What does your mom or dad brag most about you?

My mom brags that she always knew I would be an architect because of my love of Legos as a child.

Daniel Backman

Age: 38

Principal, TLCD Architecture

520 Third St., #250, Santa Rosa 95401


Read other profiles of this year's winners.

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