As we ramp up for the opening of The Crown: Royal Coffee Lab & Tasting Room in Oakland, California, we felt it was appropriate to highlight the professionals, artisans & designers who are bringing our vision to light. Read all about The Crown on our blog here.

In theory, great architecture doesn’t need to explain itself. On one hand it’s a constant source of inspiration, while on the other it can also be a continuous source of contention. For The Crown, our vision couldn’t come true without our architect, Norman Sanchez. Norman has been essential every step of the way. From before Royal purchased the building that would become The Crown, Norman has been there leading, guiding and advising on every aspect of the project. Although he is the project’s architect, that word only sums up a fraction of what he has brought to the table. Read below to learn more about the individual who took our dreams and helped bring them to life. Without a great architect, an idea is just an idea.

Group Photo: Studio Terpeluk, Norman Sanchez Architecture, Northern Sun & Chambers Art and Design at The Crown

Hi Norman! Please introduce yourself.

I was born in Mexico City and moved to the US when I was 8 years old. After high school, I came to the Bay Area to study Architecture at Berkeley. When I finished my degree I returned to Mexico to work as a design-builder for a while before returning to the Bay Area to become a licensed architect.

I have been practicing Architecture from my Alameda office for the last 14 years. Our projects are throughout California and include both residential and commercial projects.


How did you get involved with The Crown: Royal Coffee Lab & Tasting Room?

I was referred to Max Nicholas-Fulmer by a mutual friend who is a general contractor. At the time, Max was looking for a location for the future home of The Crown and we met to assess a couple of potential buildings during his search. Eventually, Max called to inform me that he was in contract to purchase the current space and I started working with him to secure the Conditional Use Permit, required by the City of Oakland to operate The Crown at this location.


What is your role with the project?

I am the Architect of record on the project and I am working in conjunction with Brett Terpeluk (of Studio Terpeluk) on the design and implementation for the project. Our main role is to assist the Crown Team to make their vision for the space a reality.


How would you describe The Crown: Royal Coffee Lab & Tasting Room?

It is a very exciting and engaging space that is driven by a great concept. The Crown team is trying to make the experience of roasting and brewing coffee accessible not just to those who participate in the training but also to the surrounding community. With this goal in mind, the space has a transparency throughout that will allow for even the most casual observer to engage in this experience.

Our goal, as the design team, has been to allow for the spaces within the building to interconnect visually and to allow adjacent spaces to be easily connected to each other via a retracting glazed door systems. This inter-connectivity between spaces will also allow for flexibility in how the spaces are used.

Brett and his team have developed a material palette that is simple and elegant but with some carefully selected accents that will give the space a unique and exciting feel.



Have you ever done a coffee project before? If so, can you share?

This is my first experience working on a coffee project and I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such a great group of people. Royal Coffee’s excitement for the project is contagious.


What’s been the biggest challenge of designing & building The Crown: Royal Coffee Lab & Tasting Room?

I would say that the most challenging aspect has been the complexity of the program. The goal of accommodating a variety of equipment and multiple uses for multiple spaces has been difficult given the limited footprint of the building.



What’s been the biggest surprise of designing & building The Crown: Royal Coffee Lab & Tasting Room?

While not quite a surprise, I remain amazed and truly impressed by the level of commitment the Crown Team has shown to the project. It has been a real treat to work with a group that is so engaged in the process and so willing to avoid a cookie-cutter approach to the design.


Anything else you’d like to share?

The City of Oakland is seeing a resurgence and there is a wonderful energy emerging in the downtown area. There is no doubt that The Crown will play an important role in the continued transformation of the Broadway corridor.


What is the best way for people to contact you?

Via our website at www.nsarchitecture.com