Bridging Culture and Craft: Jim Maliksi's Quest to be a Successful Architect © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
Bridging Culture and Craft: Jim Maliksi's Quest to be a Successful Architect © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023 | Foto: Bridging Culture and Craft: Jim Maliksi's Quest to be a Successful Architect © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

Bridging Culture and Craft: Jim Maliksi’s Quest to be a Successful Architect

Por: Diego Cerón

17, March, 2023 en Business Concept

Bridging Culture and Craft: Jim Maliksi’s Quest to be a Successful Architect

by Geraldine Zialcita

Architecture is a form of art that holds both beauty and value. From ancient times, architects have been responsible for creating structures that not only serve practical purposes but also evoke a sense of awe and wonder. The beauty of architecture lies in its ability to combine form and function in a harmonious and aesthetically pleasing way.

Architecture has the power to reflect the cultural, historical, and social values of a society. It tells the story of a people and their beliefs, capturing their hopes, dreams, and aspirations in brick and mortar. From the towering pyramids of ancient Egypt to the magnificent cathedrals of Europe, architecture is a testament to human creativity and ingenuity.

Bridging Culture and Craft: Jim Maliksi's Quest to be a Successful Architect © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
Bridging Culture and Craft: Jim Maliksi’s Quest to be a Successful Architect © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

Good architecture can increase property values, attract tourism, and stimulate local economies. In retrospect, architecture is a powerful and multifaceted art form that brings both beauty and value to our world. It reflects our cultural heritage, improves our quality of life, and contributes to the economic prosperity of society.

Jim Maliksi, born and raised in the Philippines, aspired to become a renowned architect from the moment he entered his second year of high school. He would spend hours drawing buildings, imagining new designs, and always found himself drawn to the beauty and form of structures. His love for art and architecture only grew as he got older and knew that this was what he wanted to do with his life.

Despite his mother’s objections, Jim pursued his bachelor’s degree in Architecture at the University of Santo Tomas without the support of his parents until they saw his passion and began funding his studies. He was determined to become the best architect he could be and to make a name for himself in the industry. He poured his heart and soul into his studies, soaking up every bit of knowledge he could about architecture, design, and construction. “My Nanay originally wanted me to follow in my brother’s footsteps and become an engineer, but I had my heart set on becoming an architect. I’m grateful that she eventually saw my passion and supported my dream, as I wouldn’t be where I am today without staying true to my goals. In the end, my mother and father were very proud of what I have accomplished.” he shares.

After graduating college, Jim worked as a Chief Architect for a prestigious architectural firm, designing luxury homes, restaurants and condominium buildings. He was eager to learn and grow as a professional. Jim quickly made a name for himself as a talented and creative architect with an eye for detail and a passion for his craft. However, his ambition led him to migrate to the United States in 1984, at the age of 26, with a goal to become a remarkable architect. Jim always strives for the best, content with reaching half of his aspirations. “I always used to tell myself in college that I will be one of the greatest architect in America.” He winks. “On a more serious note, my goal is to always aim high, and if I can reach half of my dreams, I would still be happy and satisfied.”

Jim faced many challenges in securing a job as an architect in California because most employers required prior local experience. Despite his impressive qualifications, his experience and expertise in the Philippines were not recognized. He even applied for a draftsman position but was deemed overqualified. To gain “local” work experience in the country, Jim acquired a clerk position at a local bookstore and viewed this as a stepping-stone and a way to acclimate to the culture. “I only lasted four months,” he grins.

As Jim strolled the streets of Redwood City, California, he came across a showroom for kitchens and bathrooms that caught his eye. There was a sign outside advertising a job opening for a draftsman, which piqued Jim’s interest. “I approached the contractor and asked if the position was still available. The contractor informed me that they were still searching for the right candidate. Despite not having a resume or samples of work, that didn’t stop me from probing further. I asked the contractor to test my skills instead,” he informs.

The contractor handed Jim a piece of tracing paper, a ruler, and tape and asked him to draw a kitchen floor plan and elevation on a quarter-inch scale. Embarrassed, Jim had to ask the contractor what that meant as in the Philippines they follow the metric system. To his surprise, the contractor just laughed and provided the information. Jim went on to demonstrate his skills, and to his delight, the contractor was so impressed that he offered Jim the job on the spot.

From 1984 to 1989, Jim worked hard to grow the drafting and design department, starting as the sole employee and building a team of seven. He rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the Lead Designer and Draftsman. Jim’s reputation grew and he was offered more high-profile projects. He took on each new challenge with enthusiasm and dedication, always striving to push the limits of his creativity and to create structures that were both beautiful and functional. His designs were unique and often incorporated new and innovative materials and technologies, and they quickly became sought after by clients. News of his impressive skills and abilities spread quickly, and just as he did in the Philippines, where he would take on additional projects designing homes for clients on the weekends, he did the same in the United States.

Bridging Culture and Craft: Jim Maliksi's Quest to be a Successful Architect © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
Bridging Culture and Craft: Jim Maliksi’s Quest to be a Successful Architect © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

Jim revealed that he was struggling to keep up with the demands of both his job and the extra projects, leading to very little sleep. He decided to leave his position and start his own firm. The interior designer who also worked for the contractor eventually quit and opened an office space in Menlo Park, offering to share the extra space with Jim. Not long after, Jim ended up renting the entire office when the interior designer left. In 1989, he moved to a larger office in Menlo Park and, in 1995, Jim obtained his license as an architect.

Jim was determined to become a California licensed architect so he started the process to fulfill the requirements. He took two tests per year and went through all the necessary written and oral exams to achieve his goal. “I felt a sense of pride and success when I finally became a licensed professional. My firm Jim Maliksi & Associates is the manifestation of everything I have worked for.” He beams with pride.

Jim draws inspiration from the environment and brings his visions to life through designs for his clients. He explains, “Design is not work to me, it’s a passion. Once I have the requirements, I start exploring all possible avenues to come up with design ideas. My love of architecture is what fuels my inspiration. I am captivated by old buildings, form, balance, and how they all come together.”

Jim specializes in residential projects located within approximately 20 minutes of his office in cities such as Menlo Park, Atherton, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Woodside, Los Altos Hills, and Portola Valley. When asked about his signature style, Jim indicates that he loves traditional homes with beautiful architectural details, particularly like colonial, Nantucket, and other old American architecture styles. Although he has gained a reputation for this style over the years, he has adapted to the changing preferences of his clients over the past decade. Now, his clients often ask for a traditional home with a more modern, contemporary interior and less detail which is commonly called transitional style. In addition to these traditional homes, he also designs homes with contemporary/modern and European styles, but the majority of his projects are still traditional homes.

What sets Jim’s firm apart from others in the industry is its attention to detail and hands-on approach with clients and construction. They ensure that their clients understand every step of the process. The firm is composed of four individuals, two of whom work in the office while the other two work remotely. Jim also offers simplified interior design services when he is not busy with other projects. “One of the unique features of the firm is that we handle every aspect of a project, from the initial concept to the final construction. We offer a full range of services, taking care of everything from start to finish,” he informs.

Jim illustrates the creative stages from concept to execution. “The creative process begins with a client either calling or being referred by a former client. I conduct an initial phone interview and arrange for a site visit where I inspect the location and explain the design process and my approach. Upon request, I provide a design proposal within a week. If the client is satisfied with the proposal, they sign the agreement, provide a retainer and I move forward with the site investigation, securing the requirements from the city and building department. I then present floor plan options for the client to choose from, and once approved, I move on to hand-drawing the elevations. After design approval from clients, my staff performs the CAD drawings and documents necessary for bidding, planning, and building permit application. Simultaneously, I will be discussing and creating detailed designs of all rooms including kitchen and bathrooms with the client. This involves visiting several material showrooms. The entire design process can entail a minimum of 6 months, while construction can take up to two and a half years. I manage 10-12 projects at any given time and at different phases of design and construction. I work with a recommended contractors either by us or clients. Weekly site meetings are held to ensure progress.”

Bridging Culture and Craft: Jim Maliksi's Quest to be a Successful Architect © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023
Bridging Culture and Craft: Jim Maliksi’s Quest to be a Successful Architect © Copyright PLPG GLOBAL MEDIA 2023

When asked what he enjoys the most about his profession, Jim reveals that he loves the process of designing, including the visualization and presentation aspects especially hand sketching and illustrations. Over the years, Jim has gained substantial insight, skills, and experience as an architect. “I have learned the importance of patience, as the design process is a comprehensive one. Determination, hard work, and creativity are also crucial aspects that I have discovered over the years. To create a successful project, I have come to realize the need to invest a considerable amount of time and effort on everything that I do,” he describes.

Like any immigrant pursuing the American dream, Jim is no stranger to encountering setbacks in his career. “As a minority in California, I sometimes felt that I have to work harder to prove my worth. Despite these obstacles, I was still blessed to receive many beautiful projects and wonderful clients. Trust is a crucial factor in hiring an architect, and my reputation for being thorough and easy to understand has brought me clients through referrals, instead of advertising. I attribute my strong design foundation to my background in the Philippines, where I had more freedom in design,” he states.

When not working, Jim, who is a dedicated husband and father, also competes in triathlons, including Ironman and marathon events. “I love to run daily and participate in biking and swimming, as well as photography. Traveling is my passion. In the near future, as I approach my 65th birthday, I don’t plan to fully retire, but I do want to slow down and have more time for canoeing and travel. I dream of living in Florence and traveling to European cities and towns for a year. My business is set up in a way that I can continue to do design work even while I’m away, as I have a team of people who I trust and have been working with me for over 20 years.

He concludes this story with a powerful message, “If you’re interested in a career in architecture and interior design, I highly encourage you to go for it. It’s a noble, fulfilling, and well-respected profession. If you have a passion for design and buildings and love your work, it will not feel like a job.”

Jim continues to innovate and push the boundaries of architecture throughout his career, always striving to create structures that are not only beautiful but also making a positive impact on society. Jim’s journey is a testament to the power of hard work and determination in achieving his dreams. Through years of hard work, Jim overcame the challenges and obstacles in his path and realized his dream of becoming a successful professional in his field. Jim’s achievement serves as an inspiration to others who aspire to follow in his footsteps and demonstrates the potential for success that lies within us all. Whether through determination, perseverance, or a combination of both, anyone can achieve their dreams and make a meaningful impact in the world.

Jim Maliksi is a true inspiration to aspiring architects everywhere, and his legacy would live on through the countless houses he has designed and the many lives he has touched through his work.


JIM MALIKSI @jimquick

Writer: GERALDINE ZIALCITA @geraldineauthor
Copy Editor: KIEDO VILLANUEVA @kei_villanueva
Art Director: NIGEL JOHN DEL MUNDO @nigeldelmundo
Food Catering: JEAN JAVIER-MALIKSI @jsj8810
Photographer Assistant: ANTON GOTTI @antongotti
Photographer: VINCENT GOTTI @vinniegotti