John Lum Architecture Expands Leadership Team Boutique San Francisco Firm Poised for Growth

San Francisco — John Lum Architecture, a boutique San Francisco architecture and design practice, announced new internal promotions. Khoan Duong, AIA and Bret Walters, AIA, NCARB have been named principals. In their new role, the duo will continue the firm’s growth, expanding services into new market sectors while improving operational efficiency and project management standards. JLA specializes in residential (single and multi-unit), optometry and retail design, and tenant improvement.

“The new leadership team will help us better serve our clients and allow us to seek projects that serve a civic and social purpose,” said Founding Principal John Lum, who established the firm in 1994. “While our core focus is residential, we are dedicated to crafting better places in the Bay Area and are tackling projects that push the boundaries of inclusive, affordable design”.

Khoan Duong, AIA

In her new role, Duong will oversee client work and maintain JLA’s design and documentation process to help clients articulate their vision and align their goals. Moreover, as lead project architect, project manager and designer, she will continue to work with residential and commercial clients, making sure design standards exemplify JLA’s values. Coming from a multi-disciplinary background, Duong joined JLA in 2004 and has been pivotal to its growth and quality of deliverables.

“It’s an exciting time in architecture and I am grateful to have helped build this practice into an 18-person team,” said Duong. “We will bring lessons learned from our past successes and apply them to new ventures as we aim to exceed client expectations and deliver outstanding work”.

Bret Walters, AIA, NCARB

In addition to his new role where he oversees daily operations and financial management, Walters will continue to provide project management and design services. His position has been critical for integrating advanced 3D software and modeling capabilities into JLA’s process to better communicate design intent while maximizing operational efficiencies. Walters joined JLA in 2010 with 18+ years of design/build, development, and construction experience, and has been a key player in the firm’s expansion into new market sectors.

“John built a company grounded in collaboration; one that is dedicated to producing quality projects with an element of play,” said Walters.  “Those ideals will drive our vision as we embark on new endeavors”.

Duong and Walters will report to Lum and work closely together to establish plans to bolster productivity and develop the client base. To further expand JLA, the team is building out research, increasing its digital presence, and focusing on its staff mentorship program to empower employees to move into leadership positions.

Rooted in a collaborative and personal process, JLA is known for striking designs, innovative use of materials, and combining efficiency and artistry to create inspiring spaces. The bustling practice has completed 800+ projects, including:

  • Residential: The first house in San Francisco to have a fully operational rainwater catchment system for potable water and the Courtyard House which won the 2018 AIA San Mateo Merit Award for Residential Architecture
  • Retail: Multiple award-winning optometry offices for their artistic material exploration
  • Installation: The DIFFA Dining Womb won a 2011 AIA California Council Merit Award for Small Projects
  • Development: The Welcome Center at The Shipyard developed by Lennar Urban in conjunction with the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency (today known as OCII—the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure; a state-authorized local entity)

Recently, JLA won commissions for a mortuary, a private school, and has committed to pro bono work for Bolinas Community Land Trust for affordable housing, the Bolinas Museum master plan, and the UC Berkeley School of Optometry Essilor Eyewear Center remodel. Learn more at

West Coast Commercial Real Estate News