As our Long Beach architecture firm celebrates 20 years in business, we’ve been taking some time to reflect on how we grew into the company that we are today. Certainly, there are a lot of business decisions that have impacted who we are and how we operate, but there are other factors as well. One of those factors was the conscious decision to invest in the Long Beach community.
Long Beach has been my (Mark’s) home since graduating college. After having spent a year living and working in Italy, I knew I wanted to live in a place that had a small-town feel and that didn’t require a car to get everywhere I wanted to go. I had a job in Newport Beach at the time, so I needed to stay fairly close to that area. I was drawn to Long Beach because of its beautiful historic architecture, its lively downtowns, and its proximity to the Pacific Ocean. It was also affordable for a new college graduate (at the time).
Eventually, I bought a house in Long Beach and started a family here. As a family, we love the Long Beach community for its neighborly people and the multitude of activities offered.
From a young age, I was taught the importance of fostering and preserving the ideals and things that you love about your community and defending them from any threats. I knew that I wanted my architecture firm to be not just another business within the city limits, but one that would help shape the community in positive ways.
To do this, we have gotten involved with several local organizations that we believe are making our community a better place. We help them maximize the amount of good they are able to do in Long Beach by providing them with free design services and serving as their advisors on design projects.
Alpert Jewish Community Center
The Alpert Jewish Community Center is an organization that is doing some great work in Long Beach. They offer a variety of programs and services for the senior citizen community, including a meal delivery program. They also provide free personal hygiene items to local women’s shelters and homeless shelters.
I first got involved with the AJCC when I started using their fitness facilities to work out. They found out that I was an architect and asked if I would help them on a project. I agreed, and not long after, I found myself on their facilities committee, as well as on their Board of Directors. Over the years, our architecture firm has provided them with pro bono design work on several projects that have helped improve their facilities. We featured one of the projects we designed for the AJCC—a complete locker room renovation—in our portfolio.
St. Cornelius Catholic Church
Like the AJCC, St. Cornelius Catholic Church is also doing some important work in Long Beach. Not only is the church helping to provide for the spiritual needs of those in the community, but they are also helping to serve the underserved among us. St. Cornelius is involved in feeding the homeless and ministering to those who are hospitalized or simply lonely.
Grisafe Architecture has helped the church with several design projects, including the design of a prayer and reflection garden, a redesign of the church’s alter, and a convent conversion.
Cultural Heritage Commission of Long Beach
The Cultural Heritage Commission is a group of volunteers who are appointed by the Mayor of Long Beach to help protect and enhance the many historic buildings, structures, and works of art within the City. Once a month, the members of the Commission get together to go over proposed changes to anything that is designated as “historic” and to make recommendations to the City regarding historic designations.
I was appointed to the Commission back in 2020, after I had made a presentation to them at the request of a client with an historic home. Serving on the Commission for the last several years has been both enlightening and rewarding. The City of Long Beach features beautiful public and private works of art and architecture, but it has some blemishes as part of its past, including a history of redlining. Being a part of the Cultural Heritage Commission has helped me see, understand, and better appreciate the City’s history. It has also allowed me to be a small part of helping to preserve my community’s heritage and history, so that, hopefully, future generations can experience the pride and sense of place in history that I have enjoyed while living and working here.