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About Luca Pignata

After completing his education in Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Florence, Italy, Luca started his career at architecture firms in Milan and Florence, where he worked on residential and retail projects, as well as exhibition halls throughout Italy and parts of Europe.

Luca joined the Backen & Gillam Architecture in 2000, was promoted to Associate in 2005 and Principal in 2016. In collaboration with Howard Backen, Luca has designed and managed a wide variety of projects, ranging from private residences and restaurants, to resorts and wineries.


Some of Luca’s most notable projects include Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma, numerous mixed-use projects throughout the Bay Area, two resorts just outside of Yosemite National Park for the First Light Destination group, and wineries in Casole d’Elsa, Tuscany (Italy), Patagonia (Argentina) and Shanghai (China). He is currently working on projects in Carmel by the Sea, Portola Valley, Malibu and Saint Helena as well as resorts in South Carolina and Napa.

Backen & Gillam Architects

Howard Backen founded Backen Arrigoni and Ross (BAR) in San Francisco in 1967, and soon established it as one of the nation’s premier architecture firms. Their vast experience includes small and large scale housing projects, high and low density, high and low income housing, student housing, and senior housing. Design also included urban, suburban, rural, and wilderness housing.  The firm designed several high-profile projects for the entertainment industry, including Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute, MGM Studios Theme Park,  and Disney’s Sound Studios in Burbank.

Its design of the headquarters for the Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco was widely acclaimed. They also designed the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies in Aspen, CO. Over the years, the firm won numerous AIA, HUD, and building industry awards, and has been published in numerous magazine articles and books.

In 1996 Howard started Backen & Gillam Architects, with offices in Sausalito, St. Helena & Beverly Hills. Their broad retail experience includes extensive design for Restoration Hardware, Williams Sonoma, Williams Sonoma Home and Pottery Barn.