ADC All-Stars: Meet Craig Chinn, Founder

Craig Chinn, the founder and CEO of ADC, smiling and discussing a project in a meeting.

As an architect, you deserve to work with a team of like-minded, creative people. After all, work is more interesting when you work with interesting folks! But this can be difficult to find at big, stuffy architecture firms. However, when you join the Architecture Design Collaborative (ADC), you join a team of architectural all-stars who are dedicated to their craft and passionate about designing and building a better world for communities.

Since 2014, ADC has been a nationally ranked architecture firm that serves Southern California with innovative designs, which is only possible because of our people. As we continue to celebrate our 10th anniversary, we have a special ADC All-Stars installment about the man who started it all: Craig Chinn! Meet our intrepid leader.

ADC All-Stars: Meet Craig Chinn, Founder and CEO

Craig Chinn is the founder and CEO of ADC, and he started it back in 2014 after working at a much larger firm for 12 years.

While working there, the firm offered him partnership on several occasions, but he kept turning it down, knowing he was meant for something bigger. The last time he turned it down, his wife asked him, ‘Why don’t you do something different?’ So, he started ADC.

When Craig started ADC, he knew he had an opportunity to fashion the firm in his vision. He wanted to create a firm that was fun, dynamic, and uniquely positioned to put the client’s interests before his own. He knew that would distinguish them.

Just as importantly, he wanted to make the world a better place through design, and that continues to be a defining characteristic of our work at ADC.

“Many competitors focus on their internal designs and ideas of what the project should be versus what the client wants. We pride ourselves on delivering work that serves the client’s and city’s needs.”

– Craig Chinn, Founder and CEO, ADC

Craig loves architecture because it continues to evolve with new technology and 3D design, which means he is constantly learning and growing along with it! Still, he believes some things never go out of style, like the ability to grab a piece of paper and sketch.

“There’s always something to learn, and that’s what makes architecture a great career. I’ve worked in architecture for 22 years and still don’t know everything. So, you learn the virtue of patience in this career. Every day is a learning adventure. Every project is different, every site plan is different, every building is different, and every solution is different. That creative nature of what we do really drives great design, and it’s what fulfills me creatively.”

– Craig Chinn, Founder and CEO, ADC

Since he was a child, Craig knew that architecture was his calling because he loves solving problems creatively, which is at the heart of every architecture design project. He believes you can always find creative opportunities in architecture.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve known I wanted to be an architect. I was always creating and building things. When playing with my G.I. Joes, I built tanks and boats for them and my friends. And that continued into high school. I took a couple drafting classes and was hooked on architecture. I haven’t looked back since.”

– Craig Chinn, Founder and CEO, ADC

What Craig Chinn Loves About ADC!

For obvious reasons, Craig has a special attachment to ADC! One of the biggest reasons he loves the company is that he has watched it grow into a creative hub.

“ADC covers several services, from residential to commercial to retail and everything in between. When I think about where we started and where we are today, I know it’s because our clients have taken us down a path of doing different kinds of work, like interior design, exterior excavation, selecting finishes, and selecting furniture. Really, the whole gamut of a project. It sets us apart because most firms only focus on architecture, not interior design and the other work we do. It’s been amazing to see the evolution of our firm.”

– Craig Chinn, Founder and CEO, ADC

Another part of the work we do that Craig loves is how it impacts a community. Whether it’s a residential project, retail project, food hall, or mall renovation, he loves designing something that benefits a community.

As the founder of ADC, Craig also appreciates the opportunity to support young architects who are building their careers, and he has a passion for teaching them. Craig says he loves helping them discover their architectural superpower by giving them experience across the entire process of a project to advance their architecture career.

Craig cherishes the opportunity he’s had to create the kind of culture at ADC that he would have loved to work in but couldn’t find at other firms. He knows the importance of flexibility and work-life balance, which the hybrid work schedule reflects.

By emphasizing collaboration, Craig has helped promote a work-life balance you don’t get at other firms. Because everyone works on all of our projects from start to finish, if one person needs to step out for vacation or another reason, the project can keep progressing.

But the company culture is about more than just work-life balance. Craig has gone to great lengths to build a team at ADC that is a tight-knit group of creatives who love to have fun. Throughout the year, there are countless celebrations and happy hours.

“Architecture can be a high-pressure gig, so I know how important it is to enjoy the environment and the people you work with. To get through hard days, we use a lot of sarcasm and humor. I know firsthand from working at big firms that if you can laugh about work with your friends, it makes the projects much easier. So we’re always joking and playing games like design charades. It’s a really fun place to work.”

– Craig Chinn, Founder and CEO at ADC

Ultimately, having worked at larger firms before, Craig has gone above and beyond to create a culture where everyone’s voice matters, regardless of title. At other firms, there’s a hierarchy, and the leaders sit in a different area. It’s like a pyramid.

At ADC, Craig consciously created a flat structure where everyone sits and works side-by-side. So people who just graduated will sit right next to a director or the CEO himself, and he’s always available to answer questions and give advice.

Do You Want to Join a Team of All-Stars and Create Innovative, Inspiring Spaces? Apply Today to Join ADC!

The people you work with should make you better, and at ADC, we have proudly assembled an all-star team that is greater than the sum of its parts, which starts with Craig Chinn, our founder and CEO! Do you want to do the work you’ve always dreamed of when you first became an architect? When you join ADC, you join a fun team that will help you grow, perfect your craft, and feel the sense of fulfillment every artist strives for.

Are you looking for a workplace you love coming to every day? Visit our Architecture Jobs page to apply today to join a team of architectural All-Stars!