EDGErs in the Spotlight :: Kimberly Garza

Sacramento has secretly assembled some of the best young professionals in the nation and we want to share that secret with everyone! Metro EDGE is proud to highlight some of our area’s best YPs and let you in on all they know. What are they up to? How did they get here? What do they want for Sacramento's future? Find it all out here.

We kicked off the features yesterday with Justin Wandro of Sacramento's Loaves and Fishes and a Sacramento Box entrepreneur. Up next is Kimberly Garza, who is activating space in Sacramento with PORTAL.

Kimberly Garza-headshot

Kimberly Garza Photo credit: Andre Elliott

Speaking with Kimberly Garza, project manager for Quadriga Landscape Architecture and Planning, can be intimidating if you let it. She holds degrees from Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley, is co-founder of her own design and research company ATLAS, and phrases like “tactical urbanism,” roll off her tongue with ease.

Garza’s intelligence is obvious but she also immediately projects her passion to improve Sacramento through design, and her willingness to connect with people.  She has previously worked for major architecture firms in places with more notoriety including San Francisco and Boston, but has decided to return to the city she grew up in to make a difference. Traditional ideas of climbing the corporate ladder be damned.

“I’ve always had these stepping stone goals – Berkeley, Harvard, major firm, my own practice – but now that has become just the desire to create spaces people want to be in,” Garza said. She has designed everything from private homes to community master plans, won major competitions including the International Sacramento Capitol Mall design competition, and tested her tactical urbanism chops by creating temporary spaces that have attracted the imagination of city dwellers where she previously lived and worked.

Photo Credit: Andre Elliot

Photo Credit: Andre Elliot

Now enter PORTAL, Garza’s latest project in partnership with the Capitol Area Development Authority, Quadriga, and Tre Borden, a Sacramento communicator and connector. PORTAL is a temporary art installation in the form of a steel-framed arch covered in LED lights near the Ice Blocks development between 17th and 18th streets. The creation has been a magnet for the community, with groups hosting yoga sessions, performances, lectures and more at the site.

For Garza, her idea for the PORTAL was to inspire people to reach out and make connections. To put in a low-cost installation where ideas could be tested, to see what the community is interested in, if they would support causes and events in the space.

By any measure it has been a resounding success, attracting a diverse array of organizations and people to a place that otherwise would sit vacant until redevelopment was complete.

“Everywhere is an opportunity to do something. It just takes someone to draw up the idea and get it moving,” Garza said. “PORTAL is a call to action.”

Metro EDGE’s 916 block party will be the art installation’s last hurrah on R Street before moving to TBD Fest for the weekend. Plans for the piece after that are being developed but Garza can’t wait to continue improving downtown and beyond by activating dormant spaces.

Where others see alleyways, vacant lots, and seas of concrete, she sees parklets, pop-up parks and gathering spaces

“I want to make incisions into Sacramento’s urban fabric,” said Garza. Using PORTAL as an example, she’s well on her way.