Stephanie Goto

U.S.A. (1974)
Stephanie Goto (pronounced go-TOE) began gravitating toward her eventual vocation when she was around 10 years old. “I was always rearranging the furniture in my room and doing photo shoots and creating scenarios of the space,” she says. “That grew into an interest in art and architecture history. All my high school history papers were on the architecture of Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. Everything was focused on the idea of how building affects civilization, how it evolves, how it affects people.”

With her eponymous architectural firm in New York City, founded in 2004 and now occupying a penthouse in Union Square, Goto has made a clear connection between those early papers and her design work on cultural institutions and restaurants. Her Manhattan projects include a renovation at the Calder Foundation, conception of Aldea Restaurant and collaboration with Japanese architect Tadao Ando on Morimoto Restaurant. She also designed a home kitchen for chef Daniel Boulud.

Aside from her work, Goto is passionate about food, having grown up visiting fine restaurants with family in Tokyo and New York, and recognizes a connection between chef and architect. Her two biggest mentors, both former employers, include American architect David Rockwell, renowned for his restaurant design, and Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly, for whom she worked six years early in her career. Goto has a degree in architecture from Cornell University.

“There is a simplicity and a quietness, I think, that has strength,” she says of her firm’s spare but soulful style. “So we always look for the kind of 16th-of-an-inch detail that tells the essence of the story of who we are or what something is or what the building or the space is about. We like to take the very elemental qualities of things and bring them to life rather than trying to embellish with too many things.”