Portfolio: Commercial + Multi-Family Housing

Milton Tong, Architect

T: 510-435-2303

We hired Milton to transform a dark, dated 1950's tri-level into a modern, bright, eco-friendly home. We got what we asked for, a bright, modern space that we adore. I will echo what others have said, Milton listens. With our budget constraints, yet big ticket dreams, we asked Milton to create something that felt bigger than it was, and allowed us to engage in "indoor-outdoor" living. I am an advocate of small houses (by choice and by budget) and Milton performed miracles with small spaces. I feel like I am on vacation everytime I come down for my morning coffee.

--Linda Bowers



We first met Milton when we employed Cheng Design to do a major remodel of our kitchen. The latter included moving walls, utilizing major supports to accommodate existing walls, and developing a major original design for the space at hand. Milton was the architect who was assigned to our job. This work was so successful, that several years later my wife and I hired him directly to design a very large cabana, which serves as a major element of our pool and garden area. Again, we were not disappointed. We have a very original design, where form follows function, and this structure greatly enhances the entire area--home, landscaping, pond and pool. It was very comfortable to work with Milton. He listened to us, created a design, and was always open to our suggestions during the process. He was not adverse to incorporating our ideas; however, at the same time he felt comfortable to oppose some of our thoughts.

--Joanne and Steve Abel



We chose Milton Tong as our architect based on a referral from our structural engineer.  We are adding a partial second storey addition to our 1921 Craftsman bungalow, and we had many requirements such as maximizing natural light, keeping the addition in the same style as the existing structure, and not impinging on our size challenged yard.  Milton was a great listener and the first set of draft plans integrated all of our design priorities and offered several choices.  He was also very creative about locating a staircase in the center of the house, where it seems a part of the design and won’t block light or interfere with the view of the yard.   He worked very well with the structural engineer and our contractor, and after bouncing ideas around the three of them were able to come up with plans that were earthquake safe, aesthetically pleasing and within our budget.  Milton’s help was also essential in navigating the web of the Berkeley Planning and Developing department and we obtained our permit within the estimated time frame.  I would definitely hire Milton again for future projects. 

--Lisa Belmont



I worked with Milton from April 2009 to March 2010 on my home addition project.  I hired Milton to prepare a set of plans and specifications suitable for open bid and to guide me through the City of Albany’s planning and design review process.

I found Milton from a recommendation on the Berkeley Parents Network website.  Prior to meeting Milton, I had interviewed two other architects, but their working style did not mesh well with mine.

I hired Milton for the following reasons:

a.     He came prepared.  Although Milton had not worked on a project in Albany, he had researched the City’s planning and design requirements prior to meeting with me.

b.     He listened.  Milton listened to my ideas about the project scope and budget.  He gave his honest opinion about the reasonableness of my ideas, and in the end, he turned out to be correct.

c.     He presented thoughtful ideas.  During our meeting, Milton sketched some initial space layouts of what our home addition could look like, and gave his opinion on the pros and cons of each sketch.

d.     He is a one-person firm.  I wanted to have a one-on-one connection with the person designing my project.  With Milton, the person you interface with is the same person that does the work; you get personalized attention.

e.     His scope and fee proposal was reasonable and transparent.  Milton showed his estimated hours for each of the three design sub-phases – SD, DD, and CD.  His billing rate is relatively low because he works from home, and he did not inflate the number of hours necessary to complete the work.

One of Milton’s strengths is his space planning and utilization.  He was able to efficiently fit a number of rooms and a staircase into our home addition, as well as seamlessly transition the new area into the existing house with minimal changes to the existing house.

I found Milton to be professional, organized, and efficient with his time.  He is very client-oriented and strives to do good work, even if it means that he has to do some work on his own time.  In that sense, he is more focused on the end product than running a money-making business.

Milton was easy to work with and respectful of my ideas.  He also provided good value, input, and guidance throughout the entire planning and design process.  He has good knowledge of the building code, which is especially important in preparing a design that gets approved by the City planning commission.  My project was passed by the planning commission and the building department with little to no revisions required, which helped the project stay on schedule.

My project completed construction in September 2010, and I am pleased with the results – especially with the flow and space utilization.  The addition feels as it has always been part of the house; it does not feel like an awkward add-on.  I am also pleased with the natural lighting, which comes from three different skylights in addition to the windows.

I would definitely recommend Milton for your architectural project.  He may not be a smooth salesperson or marketer, but he is a true nuts-and-bolts architect that is knowledgeable in the entire development process and will work hard to provide value and client satisfaction.

--client for Jung Addition