Our History

McGinnis Chen Associates has a long and distinguished history in the Bay Area. On April 17, 1963, Elmer Eugene Botsai and Robert K. Overstreet founded their firm under the name Botsai Overstreet Architects and Planners. Over the next ten years, they developed their small but growing company, defining it as one of the Bay Area’s bedrock firms. They focused on building diagnostics and design. Furthermore, Botsai Overstreet Architects and Planners was one of the first firms to adopt ASTM material lab testing protocols.

Elmer Eugene Botsai (second from left)

In 1974, Allen F. Rosenberg joined the firm as a principal architect, and the company began taking on more projects dealing with “architectural pathology.” By 1979, the firm had become Overstreet Rosenberg and Gray.

In 1982 the firm was in transition. Not only was the staff in flux, but also the nature of the firm’s projects was changing. During that year, the firm hired two young architects who would guide the firm’s future. Ron McGinnis, a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Master of Architecture program, joined the firm after a tour of duty with the US Army Corps of Engineers in Vietnam and five years with the Bureau of Architecture and the City and County of San Francisco. The same year, the firm hired a young drafter who had just finished a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a further three-and-a-half years studying architecture at Cooper Union University. He was devoted to learning as much as he could about the profession and poured himself into an assortment of projects. His name was Jeff Chen.


In 1984, the firm began to transition away from design, and the work of establishing forensic credentials began in earnest. That same year, the firm moved into a new office at 10 Nottingham in downtown San Francisco.

It was while working in these offices that Jeff Chen earned his licensure (March 26, 1987). By 1991, Jeff had become the Vice President of the firm and in 2000, joined Ron McGinnis in the next iteration of the firm, forming McGinnis Chen Associates LLP. In 2005, they further redefined the firm by establishing McGinnis Chen Associates, Inc.

McGinnis Chen Associates Inc. has remained strong as the architectural environment and building trends have changed. As the housing market grew, the firm took on numerous new construction projects, many of which were condominiums. This shifted during the recession, when the firm worked more on corporate business park projects.

McGinnis Chen Associates, Mission Street office in San Francisco

In recent years, the industry itself has changed, focusing on peer review and building envelope consulation. This is in part because architects are, more now than ever, seeing the need to intergrade waterproofing into building design from a project’s early stages. At the same time, McGinnis Chen Associates has provided services in numerous litigation and remediation cases dealing with poorly-constructed buildings. The ability to offer such a wide variety of services has helped McGinnis Chen Associate become one of California’s key building envelope specialists.

The expanding staff and growth of the company, along with the retirement of Ronald McGinnis, marked the next chapter for McGinnis Chen Associates Inc. In 2010, the firm moved  to its current office at 1019 Mission Street in downtown San Francisco.