By Ben Welty
My wife and I spent our honeymoon in southeast Asia this past January visiting the northern and southern regions of both Thailand and Vietnam. The first stop was Chiang Mai, Thailand, for temple touring, hiking with and feeding and bathing rescued elephants at a preserve, white water rafting, and visiting remote villages via ATV in the Golden Triangle. However, the best part of our stay was participating in a Thai cooking class where we got to visit local markets and using the ingredients we found there to make our new favorite Thai dish, Khao Soi! After Chiang Mai we were off to Koh Lanta in southern Thailand for some rest, relaxation, snorkeling and motor biking before heading off to Vietnam.
We spent our first night in Vietnam in Hanoi before making the trip to Halong Bay for a 3 day, 2 night cruise. Though overcast for most of the trip that did not take away from the experience of exploring one of the most unique geological formations in the world. The views were breathtaking and it was truly an amazing experience waking up on the water in the midst of towering, monolithic limestone islands covered by rainforests. Finally, our last stop was Ho Chi Minh City where we spent our last few days exploring the city, taking in some somber history at the War Museum, and dining at a rooftop restaurant during a very rare Super Blue Moon.
Overall it was an amazing experience! Great people, great food and great culture. We will be visiting again!
By Liza Karimova
The tour begins! Here we see the front facade of the 1920’s house. It was based on the Muckross house in Ireland, as an attempt by the owner to make their daughter and Irish husband live in America. Only the front 2 columns were made out of marble to cut costs, and all materials are locally sourced. The walls are 4ft thick and hollow in the middle. Fi-lo-li is short for Fight, Love, Live, words that the original owners lived by.
Many of the rooms in the house, just like this one, are replicas of famous libraries and chambers from all around Europe.
The house is known for it’s numerous charcoal portraits by John Singer Sargent. To avoid disturbing the line of sight, the light switches are hidden in the columns!
There are 16 acres of gardens!
Thousands of tulips are planted every year. Right now they are in full bloom.
The garden remains mostly unchanged from what it was in the 1920’s. Except for the addition of an olive tree grove, and some fruit and vegetable species.
Irish yew trees are strategically scattered around the garden to anchor the view. Hairy tulips!
Percy, the only inhabitant of the gardens!
To learn more about Filoli and how to plan your own visit, head on over to their website!
Q: Tell me about your background
E: I grew up in east bay, in Pleasant Hill, CA near Walnut Creek. I went to Diablo Valley College and UC Berkeley. I was at DVC for 3 years, then in 2014 I transferred and finished my last two years at Cal. Ever since I became interested in architecture I was interested in Berkeley; so I made sure I had all my requirements and units lined up then switched.
Q: Who’s in your family?
E: My dad is a contractor, so a lot of my early architecture exposure was hanging out with him on job sites. He still works as a contractor now and sometimes he asks me to do drawings for him. My mom works in the city, for the State Bar of CA. She isn’t an attorney herself, rather she manages an ethics branch for the bar exam for lawyers. She deals with ethics for any attorney that practices law in CA. I guess you could think of it as similar to a building code for architects. I also have a younger brother, seven years younger than me actually, who is still in high school.
Q: When did you first develop an interest in architecture?
E: When I was eleven years old I was given a school project to build a scale model of a house. A lot of people built dollhouse looking things, but my dad suggested that I build a replica of a Don Olsen house instead. I ended up building a scale model of his modern house. All these kids had little McMansion looking things and I came in with a modern glass box. It was the first architecture project I ever worked on; I remember thinking it was super fun to build and do something architectural hands on. I didn’t really think about it again until applying for college, when I realized I probably wouldn’t become a professional baseball player.
Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?
E: At this point, I don’t think I’m constrained to liking a specific style or type of project. Anything that gives me a unique challenge or a fun puzzle to solve is what I enjoy. I’ve worked on some urban residential, commercial, and houses in rural settings, and they all present interesting design challenges that are fun to attack in their own way.
Q: Are you excited about any projects in particular right now?
E: Right now I’m really excited about the Portola Valley View, which has just gone under construction. It’s a remodel of an existing house in Portola Valley. It’s a cool concrete structure that we’re completely remodeling. I’ve worked on a few projects at Feldman, but this is the first project I’ve worked on from feasibility study through schematic design and its complete construction set.
Q: Do you have any odd pet peeves?
E: This is a tricky one. I feel like I have a lot of pet peeves, I don’t know if they’re odd though. I feel they’re very generic things, like one of my biggest pet peeves is people chewing loudly, or with their mouth open. Nothing else is coming to mind…
Q: How long have you worked at Feldman Architecture?
E: I interned at Feldman three years ago in the summer of 2015. I then finished up my senior year of college and came back to work full time in the summer of 2016. Being an intern meant less responsibility and more fun. I worked on tons of tiny little projects, just doing renderings, models, presentations… you now, just bouncing around. I worked on 15 different projects in the 6-8 weeks I was here! But all tiny little tasks. Now I’m more focused a larger aspects of fewer projects.
Q: What do you think makes our office unique?
E: This is the only real job I’ve ever had and I’ve never worked at another architecture firm, so I have no point of reference. But I think our collaborative culture is exciting, and it’s such a tight knit group of people that are really fun to work with. That, and the fire pole in the middle of the office.
Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work?
Q: Do you have a professional role model?
E: I guess my favorite architect is Peter Zumthor. He’s a Swiss modern architect who is extremely good at creating simple, understated, beautiful, buildings without over-designing. I don’t really know how much to say about him, but I think the type of architecture he does responds incredibly well to the environment in very simple and elegant ways. It’s a lot of what I aspire to design. I actually wrote a paper about one of his projects, a little chapel he designed in Germany, when I was a junior in school. He has a skill for making architecture that is considerate and appropriate while still being moving.
Q: What’s your own design process like?
E: I’m a very young architect with very little experience, so I would say it’s constantly evolving and changing. I don’t think I have a specific style or way of designing other than I like to look at each project as a new journey or process. I try to follow a process that allows me to respond to the unique challenges of the client and site; just responding to the environment and in elegant way. It draws from the same exact experiences I was talking about before, with Peter Zumthor. I think having a goal of designing something that’s simple and understated that makes sense for its context is really important. I also really like to look at other professions for inspiration. For example I love looking at artists, comedians, and chefs. I think their approach to the creative process is incredibly interesting. It applies to anything, and all of those professions and their unique processes can all be translated into architecture in some way or another.
Q: If you could switch places with one living person for the day, who would you choose?
E: I suppose Elon Musk. He gets to design things, shoot things into space, think about public infrastructure, influence society, and drive a Tesla.
By Matt Lindsay
At the end of 2017, my wife Abby and I traveled for just over two weeks to South Africa and Victoria Falls. The main purpose of the trip was to visit Abby’s cousin and her family, who are currently serving their third tour as employees for USAID in Harare, Zimbabwe. We agreed to meet them in Cape Town for the Christmas holiday, but spent the first four days of our vacation in the eastern South African Lowveld on the Timbavati Game Reserve. From our lodge in the bush, we were treated to twice-daily guided game drives where we saw an unbelievable array of wildlife: endless birds, baboons, leopards, lions, giraffes, rhinos, elephants, and more.
After relaxing days on safari, we flew to Cape Town to meet up with our family for the holiday. Despite being a world away, Cape Town felt very familiar to us San Franciscans. The center city is densely populated and sits at the foot of towering mountains that overlook the broad bay. During our stay, we experienced some of the city’s most popular attractions, with a hint of Bay Area nostalgia: urban hikes (Lion’s Head and Table Mountain), great museums (Zeitz MOCAA), wine regions (Stellenbosch), a decommissioned island prison turned historic landmark (Robben Island), and even an impending water crisis…
After Christmas, we flew from Cape Town to the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia where the Zambezi River surges over Victoria Falls and cuts a narrow canyon through the surrounding hills. Despite a few frustrating border crossings and battling the crowds at the falls, we found unmatched natural beauty at the falls and in the surrounding river valley. From our river lodge, we were also able to explore local villages and spot more wildlife including hippos, crocodiles, monitor lizards, and monkeys. After fifteen incredible days, our first visit to Africa was over and we made the long journey by plane straight over the top of the globe and back to San Francisco.
Spring Has Arrived at the Firehouse!
Despite the rainy weather in the first few months of 2018, we’ve been keeping busy here at Feldman Architecture with staff hires, exciting events, and new projects on the horizon!
We’re pleased to announce that our recently completed Slot House(below) in Los Altos Hills will be showing at the 2018 AIA Silicon Valley Home Tours on May 5th!
Purchase tickets for the event here!
Photo by Harold Gomes
On Thursday, May 31st, we will be hosting an Open House in our newly renovated Firehouse Design Studio. We are looking forward to officially introducing our firm to the neighborhood!
In addition to welcoming neighbors, colleagues, and friends to our new home, we have partnered with Rebuild Wine Country and will be raising money during our event to support efforts to rebuild the communities that are still recovering from the North Bay Fires last October.
We will be holding a raffle during the event and would greatly appreciate any gifts you would consider contributing. If your company would like to participate by donating goods or services for our raffle, please contact us at email@example.com. All participating companies will be added to our sponsors list and acknowledged via newsletter after the event!If you’re interested in giving a monetary donation to our cause, please do so HERE! Thank you for your support!
Rebuild Wine Country, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity
Feldman Architecture is continuing our commitment to the AIA 2030 Challenge, pushing our buildings to be carbon neutral by the year 2030. Last month we hosted our local 2030 Working Group, where sustainability leaders from firms across the city came together to discuss their progress towards meeting their ‘green goals.’
We looked at the data we’ve collected, issues we have come across, and strategies to reach carbon neutrality. Reporting for 2017 was due at the end of March, and the group will meet again soon to look at how we all fared on our way to meeting our 2030 goals.
We’ve also already welcomed three new faces to the team this year! Serena Brown joined the firm as our newest studio assistant. She’s recently returned to the bay area after living a year abroad in Japan. Quick to pick up the inner workings of the office, she is now working to expand her architectural knowledge. Chris Kay (the second Chris in our office now) recently moved to San Francisco from Birmingham, Alabama. He’s worked in machine shops and robotics labs and is excited to turn his attention back to his first love– architecture. Michael Trentacosti is our newest hire and comes to us from New York. He is passionate about green design which is reflected in both his work and his love for the outdoors.
Some of our staff members have had the opportunity to travel in the recent months. We’re especially jealous of Ben and Matt who traveled to East Asia and Africa respectively. Stay tuned for more on their adventures on our blog later this month!
With our portfolio constantly expanding, we invite you to follow us on social media. Please check out our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Houzz and of course our website to view all of our latest projects. We hope everyone has had a successful and fulfilling 2018 so far and we look forward to connecting with you all this year!
– Feldman Architecture
By Serena Brown
As an architectural firm, we’re always looking for new ways to expand our creativity and invite new inspiration. At our latest Third Thursday, Hope Mohr, of Hope Mohr Dance, stopped by to share her own unique creative process and offer some advice on what values we as artists could share.
A world famous choreographer, curator, writer, and Columbia Human Rights fellow, Hope has striven to deconstruct the intersection of dance and poetry, while continuously supporting her fellow artists. She pulls inspiration from other creatives around her—painters, writers, even historical buildings and their illustrious beginnings.
Hope began the session by introducing us to case studies based on two of her previous works, Stay (2015) and Precarious (2017). She familiarized us with her inspirations for both and the way she harnesses her dancer’s agency during the creative process. Creating art for art’s sake is a strong motivator for her pieces, as she isn’t afraid to bring the audience into the realm of the uncomfortable.
Photo: Hope Mohr Dance
In order to make her dances evoke the same feelings as that of a painting or work of literature, she spends months researching and preparing potential artistic influences. Her 2015 piece in particular, drew inspiration from the works of Francis Bacon and his use of saturated colors, distorted figures, and arrow motifs.
One of her goals for the performance was to force both herself and her audience to stay longer in moments of discomfort, and to incorporate uncommon silhouettes and images. She noted, to our interest, that she often choreographs her pieces without music, and has a sound engineer create the soundtrack at a later date. In this way the movements are a direct response to the physical subject matter, rather than the instruments of a song.
Photo: Hope Mohr Dance
Towards the end of the hour, Hope touched upon one of her upcoming pieces extreme lyric I and asked our staff for an architect’s point of view on using polarized light. The discussion that followed evolved into a conversation about the ‘client’ of her work, be it the audience, dancers, or even herself. When designing a building, the client is more often than not involved directly in the creative process. In her dances however, Hope was wary to identify a specific client, for her works are not entirely for the dancers nor the audiences who view them. The question of clientele holds true for any artist, who exactly is one creating for?
Our time with Hope concluded with her sharing a list of values she’s cultivated over her many years as an artist. She encouraged us to properly do our research, and to be receptive to what the work wants, rather than what we want. She also noted that what a project calls for on its surface may be different from its driving force and to never stop doubting throughout the entire process. Reaching out into the unknown is also a key point to her, as is spending time with yourself in solitude, in the “real, secret studio.”
Her advice rang true with many of our designers, who, despite a lack of dance background, could relate to and understand the unique struggles of a creative. We all hope to see Hope’s new performance extreme lyric I in October of this year and if we’re lucky enough, have her come back and speak again.
Photo: Hope Mohr Dance
Thank you for the inspiring talk Hope!
Check out Hope Mohr Dance’s upcoming performances on her Website
By Serena Brown
The birds were waking up on a drizzly Friday morning when the staff at Feldman Architecture gathered coffee-in-hand at one of our local project sites. Conveniently located just a twelve-minute walk from our new office, the recently renovated condo sits tucked away in the rear of a shared lot on Russian Hill. The original home, built in 1895 was of a single story with a small storage attic. In the 1930’s the home was lifted and an additional story was added below. As part of the remodel, the attic space was lifted to create habitable space, a complete 3rd story with a cozy loft and roof deck that offers views of the entire Golden Gate Bridge.
Chris and Jess led the tour through the house, starting with the bottom story bedroom and snaking our way up the twisted staircase. Almost all rooms in the house have gorgeous floor to ceiling steel windows, crafted by Architectural Iron Works in San Luis Obispo. During our short visit, the clouds opened up to drop a quick downpour which I personally found beautiful to watch through the glass panes. The entire condo feels homey and comfortable, exactly what you’d want on a dreary day in the city. Two large dog beds sit in the corner of the master bedroom, offering a clearer picture of the cozy comfort the homeowners must experience.
Once we’d all gathered on the top floor, a group photo was taken before the rain started up once more. From our vantage point, we were able to watch the clouds get closer, and listen to the drops hitting the skylight above. Of all the things to grab the staff’s interest, the thermostat became a topic of discussion for a solid five minutes, before the group moved downstairs to discuss the merits of a glass door refrigerator. Soon after, Jeff, our in-office weatherman, notified us exactly when there was to be a break in the storm, which is when we gracefully made our exit.
Having joined the firm just three short weeks ago, this was my first experience on-site for any of our projects, completed or otherwise. I’m looking forward to visiting many more in the future, hopefully on sunnier days!
By Katie Paolano
Licensed architect and gifted fabricator, Matt Hutchinson of PATH, brought his technical expertise and skilled hands to the Feldman studio in February 2017. A one-man-show, PATH is a design and fabrication studio in which Matt focuses on the synthesis of both hand-crafted and machine-made works. In his presentation, Matt noted that materials come together all around us, all the time—in furniture, in everyday products, in the spaces surrounding us—and we commonly experience the hybrid of two different materials fused as one.
Matt demonstrates this solidarity along with the overlap of digital and hand craft in his VICE Table (shown below) in which the wood surface smoothly transitions into the cast aluminum tray. We were particularly fascinated by his careful attention to the idiosyncrasies and limitations of different materials—how certain woods tend to split and break, whereas aluminum shrinks during the cooling process.
On the other hand, we at Feldman were all riveted on Matt’s experiments involving two parts of a single material connected by a joint. He created different versions of node connections—able to accommodate round tube, round solid, square tube, and wood dowels. The stool below exemplifies such junction with 3D printed stainless nodes fusing stainless tube struts.
Matt closed discussion, stressing the paramount importance of experience followed closely by failure, advising Feldman designers not to expect any project to go exactly as planned the first (or even third) try. He claims to still fail all the time, but by the looks of his work however, it appears as though Matt has acquired more than skill, seamlessly creating custom furniture pieces, lamps, chandeliers and other installations to near perfection.
If we’re lucky enough, maybe we’ll score a Matt Hutchinson custom piece to showcase in one of our future projects!
Thanks for stopping by, Matt!
Check out Matt’s work at http://patharc.com/info
When architect Steven Stept first saw the site of Los Altos Hills II with client Simon Yiu in September 2012, it was empty, gently sloping alongside a quiet cul-de-sac. Now, two stacking, intersecting bars perch on the hillside, opening onto an infinity pool nestled between the two elegant forms. Finished and photographed, polished and populated with furniture, Los Altos Hills II is the product of years of hard work and extensive collaboration but remains true to the original nature of the site; the home finds strength in simplicity and calm on the cutting edge.
“What I like most about the project,” says Feldman’s Humbeen Geo, who assisted with the project’s construction drawings, detailing, construction administration, and interiors, “Is that the main design concept translated into and through construction. Nothing was compromised.” As a custom-for-sale home, the home’s programming lacked the idiosyncrasies of a project designed as a client’s ‘forever home,’ but its design received the same level of focus and attention to detail. Conceived as bold composition of simple forms in the office of Axelrod + Stept Architects, prior to Stept joining the Feldman team where he fine-tuned the design and now serves as Managing Partner, it stayed that way, thanks both to the client’s trust in his architects’ vision and ability to execute and in Steven’s faith, in turn, in the team he assembled.
“Steven gave me the license to both learn and contribute in a meaningful way,” says Humbeen, for whom Los Altos Hills II will always stand out in his mind as his first residential project. Indeed, it is clear that the final home reflects the collective strength of all who worked on the project, from Huettl Landscape Architecture’s thoughtful design for the site, where the dark mulch relates to the dark wood of the house, to Tali Ariely’s lighting design, whose strong concept of a linear lighting system supplemented by down lights mimics the crisp lines of the house. So, too, the wide sliding glass panels that scale back to blur indoor and outdoor living spaces, turning the home’s main living areas into pavilions open to the breeze, represent Murray Windows and Doors’ integral contribution to the project. “Carol, your doors look great – I can’t see them!” Steven joked to the Murray representative after seeing the home completely open to the site and its pool at its center. He adds, “The indoor/outdoor living element is stronger in this house than in any other house I’ve designed.”
One of the collaborations that proved the most rewarding, Steven says, was with Hector Rivera, who crafted the home’s steel staircase. The staircase now casts a striking shadow on the white kitchen counter, and it has become one of the strongest elements of the home.
The project’s finishing touch was the furniture provided by Flexform San Francisco for an intimate open house gathering held at the home in mid-July. Flexform is a luxury furniture brand, handmade in Italy, for whom details are everything, and their furniture adds a softness to the sleek, modern design. “It makes it casual,” says Flexform’s Gregory Herman, “and therefore useable. It invites people to dive in, fire up a movie, enjoy the breeze, the view, the pool.” When, in a happy coincidence, it came to light that the large sofa Steven and Simon had selected for the living room was designed by the same Italian designer, Antonio Chitterio, who designed the Arclinea line featured in the home’s nearby kitchen, it felt as if the final piece of the puzzle had fallen into place. “Before, it was just a building,” says Gregory. “Now, it’s a home.” Feldman’s Aaron Lim, who also worked extensively on the project, added, “The building really came alive that evening; with all of the exterior doors open, especially the corner doors, guests were able to walk in and out the house easily. It felt very open, and well-proportion – not extravagant or ostentatious.” When guests walked through the large entry pivot door into the living room at the open house, immediately accessing views of patio, pool, and site beyond, Steven received his long sought-after response: a jaw drop.
I recently had the chance to walk the home’s dark wood floors, climb its steel staircases, and watch the sun pour into light wells, stairwells, and, well, everywhere from basement to crowning master suite. The sun beat down on the infinity pool, casting reflections of the ripples in the water onto the shaded underside stucco overhang two floors up, and it filtered through the slots in the steel stairs to become slits of light splayed across a concrete wall. All of the home’s doors were open, and all of its closets were empty, just waiting for coats to be hung.
From the Iron Chef competition to the rejuvenating Third Thursdays, every part of my experience at Feldman Architecture this summer has been a thrilling challenge from start to finish, especially the occasional morning maneuvers through all of the office dogs.
Diving into a proposal for a project during my second week was an effective way to be put under the spotlight and face the real world. An unmatched opportunity to witness the progression of a collaborative design process, the many projects I helped out with were a true test to my ability to overcome challenges.
I would like to thank everyone, and especially Humbeen, for helping me learn through my stumbles and falls, and for making my experience so fun. I accrued a multitude of skills and a plethora of knowledge during the two and a half months of working at Feldman Architecture. For instance, I can now confidently say that I know how to disable the office alarm without frantically pressing all of the buttons. It has been a real pleasure to be a part of such a vibrant work environment.
Thank you for being such a wonderful team, I hope that I can cross paths with all of you in the near future. It has been a pleasure to get to know all of you !
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