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Studio Robbins Cortina sharpens its focus on Eichler owners and residential projects
Fridays on the Homefront
The Eichler Network welcomes Studio Robbins Cortina and its principal, Michael Robbins (pictured above), a new addition to our roster of preferred service companies. Studio Robbins Cortina specializes in architectural design, serving the Eichlers of Marin County and San Francisco. Photo: Jonathan Braun
Fridays on the Homefront
Eichler Network's 'Home Maintenance Directory 2019'—where you'll meet more companies you can trust with your next home improvement project. For the 2019 edition, click here.

Michael Robbins spent several years travelling many miles to accumulate the unique toolkit he brings to working on modernist homes in the Bay Area.

"Pretty much the first eight years of my career were spent in Florence, Italy," the Los Angeles native says of a professional start that came out of the international study program at Cal State San Luis Obispo. "Growing up, my mom took us to Europe, and I had always wanted to go back."

Abroad in the architecture field, he gained valuable experience doing "a lot of adaptive reuse" to interiors as well as restoring the exteriors of older buildings throughout Tuscany.

Returning to the states, he yearned for more modern work and took a position in his hometown with Steven Woolsey and Associates, formerly project architects for renowned designer Craig Ellwood. Robbins worked on updating such Ellwood landmarks as the ‘bridge building' at the Art Center College of Design and the Xerox campus in El Segundo.

"I kind of got a taste of it back then," he says of Ellwood's brand of mid-century modern. "It was a great design experience, but totally different than the Eichlers."

Alternatively, his next career move was working ten years in the Bay Area with Anshen and Allen, the prolific architects of California modern housing for developers Mackay and Gavello and, of course, Eichler Homes. Although Robbins primarily worked on commercial buildings for the firm, "The design philosophy was very much the same" as their residential projects.

With two decades of experience under his belt, the architect finally opened Studio Robbins Cortina in 2014, working from offices in Berkeley and including his mother's maiden name in the company moniker. To his delight, his latest career phase is more focused on personal contact with clients for primarily residential projects.

"I realized that size isn't everything," he says of his professional transformation, which dovetails with an ever-increasing appreciation of applying modernist principles to 21st century living.

"It's a combination of the aesthetic expressing the functionality and structure of a building as well as the philosophy of it," he explains. To this refined perspective, Robbins now enjoys applying the new technology of three-dimensional BIM, or building information modeling.

"I like to use technology to facilitate things that might otherwise be cost prohibitive," the architect says of the newest addition to his ample toolkit.

Add to that, recent collaborations with the San Francisco planning department through activity in that city's chapter of American Institute of Architects, and at last you see the breadth of Studio Robbins Cortina.

Studio Robbins Cortina
Architectural Design & Consultation
Serving Marin & San Francisco