Intricate Infill

Architectural Designer Marvin Maldonado

Back Article Dec 1, 2013 By Kibkabe Araya

“First off, I’m not an architect,” says Marvin Maldonado, a Sacramento-based building designer. He’s really more of a dreamer with a architecture degree.

But as we all know, dreams can get tricky. And in early 2009, 26 days after his first son was born, Maldonado was laid off from an architectural firm in Newport Beach. With the market taking a nose dive, he and his wife Bridgette (his high school sweetheart), moved back to his hometown. He got busy searching for jobs. He got discouraged, and then he got real.

“I applied for over a hundred jobs that year. The market was horrible,” says Maldonado, whose design education began at Florin High School. “The economy forced me to make my own work.”

In the fall of 2009, Maldonado met Sacramento entrepreneur and restaurant developer Ali Mackani, who basically offered him his dream job — without pay.  Mackani and Maldonado became the driving force behind a design concept and financing plan for a sports arena at the Downtown Plaza. “I had faith that putting my hat in that ring was going to lead to other design opportunities,” says Maldonado.

And it did.

After commuting to an 8-month gig in San Francisco, Maldonado created inFORM, a design firm focused on small-lot infill development in midtown. In his first job, Maldonado, now 35, was hired to design affordable homes built out of shipping containers in Crescent City.

“I like small, quirky lots. I like infill,” he says. “It’s intricate, it’s exciting.”

The challenge, he says, is trying to fit a building into a confined space: “Small spaces are fun to live in. You can stretch out and almost feel it (the building). A small space makes you interact more.”

Creating modern dwellings was his original goal for inFORM, but after a while, Maldonado found himself gravitating toward restaurants.

He expanded the dining room at the recently shuttered Blackbird Kitchen & Bar, and he expanded the kitchen and designed the outdoor dock and private dining room at Fox & Goose Pub. Maldonado also has contracts to design restaurant and bar spaces in the 700 block of K Street, a project that has seen many challenges getting under construction.

In recent years, Maldonado has designed locally for DIY Network’s “House Crashers.” He also designed and built (twice) the popular “little black truck” known as GYPSY, a mobile boutique owned by his wife. He’s currently working on homes in Granite Bay, Loomis and Arden Park, and a restaurant in the residential Southside Park neighborhood.

“Right now, I’ve got to do work that pays the bills. Don’t get me wrong, all design jobs are interesting and challenging to me, but I can’t wait to get my hands on an urban lot and do something fantastic with it,” he says. “Maybe soon I can drop a shipping container or two in midtown. A guy can dream right?”


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