Riki Sano graduated from the Architecture Section, Tokyo University (1903). Received his doctorate (1915). Left Japan (1910) to study in Britain, the United States, Germany and Italy.
Riki Sano was appointed assistant professor at the university (1906). Later he was appointed professor. He became dean of the Engineering Department, Nihon University.
In the meantime, he was an engineer of the Imperial Household Ministry and participated in the building of the Meiji Shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji. He was also chief of the Tokyo Reconstruction Bureau, chief of the Architecture Bureau, Tokyo Municipal Government, professor at the Tokyo Engineering College and vice-president of the Shimizu Gumi Construction Company.
He was nominated a member of the Japan Academy (1950).