Five Questions with Chris

Shawn Barba

November 13, 2019

When Chris Avanzino was eight, he and his family would visit Tahoe. But it wasn’t the lake they were exploring; it was the houses under construction. Seeing the structure and unique design of each house sparked Chris’ interest. He loved the idea of creating spaces for people to experience and enjoy. Those “people”? Initially, Chris’ parents, who had the pleasure of their own personal architect drawing “dream home” floor plans and elevations. Although Chris launched his architecture career from his folks kitchen table, he eventually decided to share his talents with the rest of us.

In the San Francisco office.

Chris’ favorite part of being an architect is solving complex problems and seeing them realized in physical form. His current work includes the Contra Costa Emergency Operations Center, the Sacramento State Student Union North Expansion and the Santa Clara South County Animal Shelter. Being able to experience a space he played a part in designing is really exciting to Chris. That, and sour candy. He says the intensity of flavor makes for an amazing sensory event (and some really angry taste buds).

Quality time at the A’s Game.

I recently had a chance to sit down and ask him a few questions.

SB: What’s your go-to productivity trick?

CA: I didn’t discover the benefits of coffee until after my wife and I had our son. Now I don’t know how I survived my first 30 years without it! Melodic music is another thing that helps me to focus and complete tasks as it helps my brain get into a rhythm of efficiently moving from item to item without getting too bogged down by any one thing.

SB:  If you could write a book about your life, what would the title be and why?

CA: Thoughts on Thoughts. I’ve always been intrigued by how the mind works and how people think. From a very young age, I was always curious about what other people were thinking, and whether they were wondering what I was thinking. It’s something that has always made me continually want to investigate peoples’ tendencies, motivations, wants, and needs, which has helped me immensely in my profession in order to understand and relate to a client’s wishes as well as working closely with contractors to complete a project as efficient and successful as possible.

Hiking in Muir Woods.

SB: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

CA: I don’t like cheese. This is something that people close to me know, but is always a huge shocker when it inevitably comes up during lunch/dinner/hors d’oeuvres/etc. “YOU DON’T LIKE CHEESE???” has become the story of my life. To clear the air, I like some cheese as long as it’s not the main part of a dish. Cheese pizza? No. Any other pizza? Yes. Cheeseburger? Sure, but I prefer with no cheese most of the time. Lasagna? No way. Artificially cheese flavored things like Cheez-its and Doritos? Yes! Welcome to my world.

SB: What’s one thing you’re learning now, and why is it important?

CA: I have a three-year-old at home and I feel like I’m learning more and more each day. Though our routines are relatively constant, the experiences are different every day. My son has taught me about patience, compassion, love, and humility. It’s been something that has made me grow as a person and as a father. I am starting to understand more and more the meaning behind the Greek phrase “einai kalytero anthropo apo ton patera toy” which translates to “Be a better man than your father.” I’ve come to understand that this goes both ways, both as striving to be a better man than my father, but also teaching my son to be a better man than me.

SB:  If you could choose a superpower, what would it be and why?

CA: The Power of Vocabulary. I wish at times that I had a more extensive grasp on both the English language as well as other languages. Something that I’ve sometimes had issues with is being able to verbally communicate my thoughts. It’s not debilitating in any way, but just something that I wish I could easily improve. I also wish I could understand other languages. I feel like language is something that is much more than a translation of thoughts into words across geographical regions. Cultures interpret language in very different ways, and it’s something that I have always been intrigued by. Being able to understand other languages and the meaning and emotion behind what is being said is something that has always interested me. Or Flying. That would be cool too.

Chris and son having some fun.

Subscribe to learn about our latest projects, news + updates.