Congratulations! You're thinking of using an architect. You see the value in having a project, whether it is a commercial, residential or publicly funded project customized for your needs; how it can add beauty and quality to your life and save you time in the construction and permit process. And how a quality design can help attract a quality builder. Of course, you're nervous about the cost and whether you'll be listened to, and what about all those decisions you're going to have to make? Well, you've come to the right place. I hope that what you discover about my studio will help put some of your concerns at ease.

Nick Sonder, Architect


Nick puts the "tech" in architect. He uniquely combines old school hand drawing and drafting with state-of-the-art 3D graphic software and imaging programs. Using SketchUp 3D software, Nick can illustrate, examine and explore design solutions with you in a real time 3D environment. Buildings can be manipulated and viewed from any angle. You can literally walk through or fly around the building. You can even see how light shifts with time of day and month of the year. Also you and your builder can quickly gain a complete understanding of the project design. It saves you time, it saves you money and it prevents unpleasant surprises. (Plus, it's really cool!).

Nick Sonder, Architect


Nicholas Sonder, Architect
11025 Pioneer Trail, Suite 100B
Truckee, California 96161

T: (530) 582-4521
F: (530) 582-4522

Contact Nick Sonder, Architect


This is what clients, developers and builders have to say about Nick's work:

Contact Nick Sonder, Journeyman

"I could not be happier with the beautiful house Matt and Nick designed for me. From the outset, they wortoked with me make sure what I wanted in the house would be in the design. My house sits on a challenging lot, and Matt and Nick found very creative ways to work within the constraints of the property. They also were very open to non-traditional design elements and to my personal tastes. The home they designed is strikingly original, even as it plays off historical themes in the local area. At the same time, the house is very comfortable and suits my family's requirements perfectly. As a result, the home they helped me build by the Truckee River far exceeds what my expectations had been when I started the project."
–John Crary

"Nick's ability to comprehend a client's lifestyle and needs is unprecedented. His ability to design to multiple vernaculars and still maintain budget parameters allows for a seamless relationship between contractor and owner. Working with Nick as a contractor is an effortless duty as his plans are thorough, well organized and economical to build. As the Architect of my own home, Nick provided my family with a home we are proud to call our own"
–Robert Marr, President, Robert Marr Construction

"I am the principal of InterMountain Development, have been involved with real property transactions since 1982, developed property throughout the Western United States since 1987, and established InterMountain Development in Truckee, California in 1995. Since 1995, I have focused on the development of subdivisions, commercial property and building of luxury homes in the Tahoe area. Throughout the past approximate 25 years I have worked with multiple architects throughout the Western United States, including but not limited to six different architects within the Tahoe region.

It is with the above experience I provide this letter of recommendation regarding the architectural services of Nicolas Sonder.

Nick brings to each of our projects a unique blend of advanced formal education, expertise in regional building requirements, and extensive experience with local permitting and entitlement procedures. His experience and knowledge enable accurate planning utilizing realistic goals, thereby avoiding multiple submittals and subsequent delay.

It has been my experience that larger architectural firms have the wherewithal to provide their clients with the latest technology, equipment and staff to complete projects timely, and bill accordingly. Smaller firms offer a more intimate relationship between the architect and the developer and provide immediate access the architect actually working on each project, all of which eliminate the redundancy and bureaucracy which is prevalent in larger firms.

I have worked with Nick Sonder for many years and have found that he provides a unique blend of the benefits of both a large and small firm. Specifically, his ability to produce superior quality detailed drawings which utilize the latest CAD technology and the reliability of immediate on and off site meeting capabilities provide the developer / builder with the confidence that when an issue arises, it will be resolved professionally, without delay. It has been my experience that more often than not, Nick is waiting for a response from us, rather than us seeking requesting completion of a specific task from him.

Nick approaches his projects with individuality and realistic goals of getting the project built in a timely manner. Because of his global approach, it has been my experience that his contracts have been all inclusive which eliminate additional fees and costs. Simply, I have found that his performance consistently exceeds the written contract, absent additional costs.

When selecting an architect it is imperative that he / she be competent, honest, and willing to immediately resolve issues as they arise. I have found all of these traits in Nick Sonder, we use him exclusively for all of our projects, and recommend one considers his attributes and abilities when selecting an Architect."
–Mark David Percin, Principal, Intermountain Development


Work with Nick and WYSIWYG. Unlike a bigger firm, there are no handoffs from Principle to Project Architect to Project Manager to Intern/Drafter and back up the chain again. No handoffs means there is much less chance of the ball being fumbled. You're always working with the quarterback. So you can feel confident that your project will flow smoothly through the design and build phases with full communication and fewer misunderstandings. Touchdown!

Nick Sonder, Architect

Resume :: Nicholas J. Sonder, AlA


Nick received both his Bachelor of Fine Arts and his Bachelor of Architecture from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. "RISD" is well known for hiring staff that are stars in their specific fields and is rated as one of the top schools of architecture in the world.


State of California Licensed Architect No. C23951 State of Nevada Registered Architect No.4311 National Council of Architectural Registration Boards No.51394 American Institute of Architects -member No.30090270


Nick has significant experience in public works projects focusing on community centers, fire stations, recreational facilities and schools. He has worked on projects as large as the $68,000,000 Folsom High School, where Nick was assigned as the lead designer with the firm Rainforth Grau Architects. This project was awarded the Coalition of Adequate School Housing Merit Award for Design.

After relocating from Sacramento to Truckee, Nick worked with Architects Faulkner + Ryan as a project architect. During this time Nick worked on several projects for the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District at the Kings Beach School and the Tahoe Lake Elementary School. Nick was also involved with the detailing of the Lodge at Lahontan as well as being a valued source of technical and design information on many projects that were produced by that office including several custom residential projects in addition to the public works sector projects.

Nick decided to accept a position in the firm of Smith Design Group in Incline Village when Architects Faulkner + Ryan dissolved. At Smith Design Group, Nick continued his work with the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District at the North Tahoe Middle School/High School, Tahoe Lake Elementary School and Rideout Elementary School. Nick also had the opportunity to lead the design teams for work on Fire stations, community centers as well as the Burnt Cedar Beach Bath house, which received the Washoe County merit award for design. The Sun Valley Fire Station also received the Washoe County merit award for design the following year.

His work with community groups and advisory boards has afforded his clientele a valuable communication resource. Communication, understanding design and a creative approach to architecture has resulted in a large scope of successful projects. The technical expertise in the vastly more complex arena of public works projects offers his residential clients a completely detailed level of documentation that is often lacking in the residential design field.

Nick has first hand experience in construction framing and finish work. He and Matt built a 1700 sf addition by hand that reflects the level of detailing Nick can provide. This experience was an amazing process that every architect should explore. The actual process of building what you design gives you the insight required to follow your design intent through to completion.


The following is a partial list of projects that Nick was an integral part of the design team.

with Rainforth Grau Architects:

  • Elitha Donner Hopscotch Elementary School - Elk Grove Unified School District
    $3,000,000 new elementary school
  • Laguna West Elementary School - Elk Grove Unified School District
    $5,000,000 new elementary school.
  • Livermore High School Master Plan Implementation - Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District
    $10,000,000 modernization and addition project
  • Livermore North Elementary School - Livermore Valley, Joint Unified School District
    $5,000,000 new elementary school
  • Folsom High School Modernization - Folsom Cordova Unified School District
    $3,000,000 modernization of the old high school
  • Folsom High School - Folsom Cordova Unified School District
    $68,000,000 new high school

with Architects Faulkner + Ryan:

  • Kings Beach Elementary School Additions -Tahoe Truckee Unified School District
    $3,000,000 addition projects
  • Tahoe Lake Elementary School Modernization -Tahoe Truckee Unified School District
    $600,000 for phase one
  • Rideout Elementary School -Tahoe Truckee Unified School District
    $700,000 modernization
  • The Lodge at Lahontan
    $21,000,000 lodge composed of three timber frame structures.
  • Harleen Residence
    4,000 sf custom home in Sugarbowl

with Smith Design Group:

  • Community Center -Parasol Foundation Incline
    $6,000,000 new facility
  • Tahoe Lake Elementary School Modernization -Tahoe Truckee Unified School District
    $600,000 for phase two
  • Burnt Cedar Bath House -Incline Village General Improvement District
    $1,500,000 new facility
  • McQueen Fire Station No.11 -City of Reno
    $3,500,000 new facility
  • Sun Valley Fire Station -Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District
    $1,500,000 new facility
  • North Tahoe Middle School High School -Tahoe Truckee Unified School District
    $4,800,000 new gymnasium addition

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You hire an architect for their vision. But it's not always easy to get what that vision is. With Nick though, it's easier to see eye-to-eye. Direct communication leads to better understanding. Nick's studio allows the direct communication and seamless project development to flourish and grow to a level that is not afforded by larger firms. The use of hand drawing combined with 3D software brings your project to life faster with a higher level of detail. Better tools lead to better visualization. You get where he's coming from. He gets where you're coming from. Your builder gets it. Everyone's happy. The key to Nick's process is utilizing all of these tools to allow the simple, but most important aspect of any design, become a successful process - COMMUNICATION. Nick's ability to clearly depict his intentions both verbally and on paper extend not only to the client, but to the governing agencies and most importantly, the contractors.

Nick Sonder, Architect


Just because Nick's firm is small doesn't mean he can't work big. Nick has worked on everything from small residential projects to large scale public works projects. Nick's services include:

  • site analysis
  • schematic design
  • design development
  • construction documents and permit submittal
  • bidding negotiation
  • construction administration
  • rendering and visualization
  • SketchUp

As an avid outdoorsman and a father, Nick is an advocate of sustainable design. He is eager to work with unconventional and alternative construction, such as rammed earth and straw bale, and has specific expertise in timber frame design.

Nick Sonder, Architect

Mountain Man

The Tahoe-Truckee area receives an average of 350 inches of snow each year. Some areas are a little less while some areas are a lot more. The type of snow received in the Sierra Nevada is generally heavy, wet snow. Every design must consider the impact this area characteristic plays in the decisions that are made. Originally born and raised in New England and with experience locally in Truckee since 1995, Nick is well versed in the solutions necessary to live with the element of snow. While the impact of the weight is an obvious consideration, the movement of the snow on the roof and on site is equally in need of mitigation. Pedestrian and vehicle access are always considered to eliminate hazards. Floor heights and overhangs are considered to prevent the home from becoming a "blue snow cave". Snow is a beautiful aspect of our area and embracing its existence in the design process will enhance the lifestyle experience here in the Sierra.

Nick Sonder, Architect

Matt Rusanoff
June 25, 1971-February 26, 2007

I first met Matt Rusanoff when we worked together at Architects Faulkner + Ryan in Truckee. I was the architect and Matt was my CAD support.

Matt's generosity and never ending energy were his strongest attributes. Over the years I often tried to teach him the meaning of the word "no" to no avail. We immediately became best of friends and as his step father Nelson Van Gundy more appropriately called us, "partners in crime".

Nick Sonder, Architect

After Faulkner + Ryan, we left for separate ventures. We still got together after work and on weekends and talked often of working together again. Matt was an integral part of my family. He was the first to come visit my newborn children at the hospital. He helped me over the course of two years, building an addition on my home. He would bring us firewood when we ran out. He was always there for us. Eventually, we realized that we needed to start working together again, that the frustrations of working for larger firms were taking away from the "fun" we used to have working together. So in June of 2001, we started the foundations of my venture today.

From day one, we agreed that we would provide the highest level of service for a reasonable cost. We could achieve this by staying small and taking a more personal approach. We would use technology to enhance our design capabilities. But our main value was to have fun with what we did. Not just for us, but also for our clients.

On February 26th of 2007, Matt was suddenly taken from us at the far too young age of 35. He left behind a lot of family and friends, many of whom I imagine, like me, considered him their best friend.

Matt instilled in me the belief that life should never be taken for granted. That having fun and really caring about those around you is the most important aspect of life. I will never forget this belief and I will always carry it with me into the future.

I will always miss Matt, my partner and friend.
This website is dedicated to him.