Summer’s greetings from the Feldman Architecture team. We are so excited to share some updates with you – especially our very own Surf House featured in this month’s issue of Architectural Digest! We are wishing you a safe, healthy, and relaxing summer. Please find our entire summer newsletter here, and a few updates below.
“But beyond any piece of art or pedigreed object, the true spirit of the house resides in the Monterey cypress that lines its walls, doors, and cabinetry. ‘It feels like we’re living inside a fine piece of furniture, crafted by artisans at the top of their field. I love to lie on the couch and just let my eye trace all the details,’ the husband raves. His wife has the final word: ‘We don’t think about the house as a place. It’s an experience. It’s peace. It feeds our souls.'”
We are elated that Surf House is featured in the July/August 2020 issue of Architectural Digest! We are so proud to share this spread with our collaborators Commune, Ground Studio, Arborica, Tucci Lighting, among many others – and very thankful for the thoughtful words from Mayer Rus and stunning images from Stephen Kent Johnson. Read the piece online here, in print here, enjoy the project on our website, look for the issue on newsstands, and find one of our favorite quotes from the homeowners above.
This quarter, we’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, discussing, and planning. Below, find a statement and a series of commitments from our team inspired by recent activism fighting for racial justice. We want to share these truths and commitments with our community to start our path towards reconciliation.
Feldman Architecture stands in vigorous opposition to racism in all its forms and is committing to actionable steps towards addressing structural, societal, and implicit biases, starting with those baked into the architecture and design industries. As a firm that names both sustainability and transparency as core values, we must acknowledge the lack of both in our industry at large when it comes to racial justice.
First and foremost, we must acknowledge the truth – our country and our industry specifically are structured to uphold systems of racism. With our studio’s focus on residential design serving very wealthy clients, we also must acknowledge our privilege and complicity within this system. With only 2% of all architects currently registered in the United States being Black, we must commit to actively working to increase accessibility and to offering support and reconciliation to Black architects, students, and members of our community.
Within our firm, we have formed an antiracism focus group, which has been brainstorming actionable items we can take collectively to address areas identified as needing improvement. We aim to assemble meaningful commitments with care and integrity, and to consistently and continually hold ourselves accountable and improve upon said commitments.
Feldman Architecture will firstly address racism internally at our firm, exploring tangible ways in which implicit bias affects our lives and the lives of those around us, specifically focusing on strategies to hold ourselves accountable and strive towards antiracism. These discussions will work to empower staff to start the journey of self-reflection and support and uplift Black community members, designers, and loved ones.
In order to address the lack of Black professionals in our industry, we will work to expand our recruiting and educational outreach. We commit to making our internship program more robust – Feldman Architecture will work with organizations like NOMA to offer internships to aspiring BIPOC architects, performing outreach and building relationships with high school and college students in our community.
We believe that specifically exposing marginalized and disenfranchised students at a younger age to architectural and design opportunities can begin to address and break down the systemic barriers that have historically kept the industry homogeneous. We must take intentional action to break this cycle and work with organizations performing educational outreach in Black communities and form pathways and relationships to do so.
We will scrutinize our hiring process. Currently, Feldman Architect has zero Black employees. We aim to change that to reflect the demographics of our broader community, and therefore will commit to actively recruiting Black architects and encouraging others in our industry to do the same. We will establish relationships with HBCUs and expand and diversify our hiring process via organizational partnerships, job boards, and community outreach.
We will prioritize pro bono efforts which provide design services and consultations to organizations and nonprofits that are working towards racial justice and/or that specifically benefit Black communities. Our entire pro bono effort will be focused more closely and intentionally on serving underrepresented and minority communities.
We will aim to increase the diversity of our collaborator and consultant pool, specifically seeking out Black owned and led companies to work with and promote.
We will invite conversation and discussion. Please feel free to engage us with suggestions, ideas, or criticisms. We are dedicated to making this work a permanent part of our firm’s processes and will have blog posts updating our community on our progress as we work towards making our commitments as concrete and specific as possible within the next six months.
We are committed and open. There is much work to do and much for us to learn. Black lives matter, and always will.
This spring, despite facing challenges to our business, our projects, and our workflow- we have found joy in our collaboration with Gaile Guevara Studio on Pan‘Orama House – an airy California retreat that contrasts thoughtful industrial details with warm, expansive views. For the past few months, Gaile and her dedicated team have been sheltering in place in Pan‘Orama House, directing and coordinating shipments, unpacking and installing, organizing, and fully stocking the home with her impressive library of sustainable lifestyle products.
Gaile and her team bring deep knowledge in sourcing healthy, reusable, and compostable goods of all shapes, sizes, and uses for each of their clients – going above and beyond the typical interior design scope. Her library of products, brands, and suppliers is remarkable – and she shared some of her favorites with us.
“When we source a product, we want to be able to truly believe in not only the product we are providing our clients but also the company itself. We focus on three things- the impact on the earth, the quality of the product, and the quality of the people.”
The Stasher Bag by Kat Nouri perfectly exemplifies all of the above – a sustainable replacement for single-use plastic bags developed and designed in the Bay Area. And as an added bonus – a portion of every Stasher sold goes straight to high-impact nonprofits like Surfrider and 5Gyres – organizations dedicated to preserving and rehabilitating our oceans.
Lindsey Theobald, our Director of Interiors, and I were lucky enough to catch up with Gaile last week as she walked us through some of the processes and products she is incorporating into the installation process at Pan‘Orama House. With more time (and a delayed delivery schedule) Gaile has had the opportunity to give this project the finishing touches and extra love that it deserves – a treatment she is rarely able to provide with busy schedules and fast-paced deadlines.
“We’ve been pretty lucky to let our inner OCD love for food come out with testing all the products. With being limited to not having cleaners or movers, having the opportunity to audit and unpack the Client’s inventory while also organizing has allowed us to really dive into how we can help reduce over shopping and reducing food waste. Setting up a zero-waste program is our biggest challenge – figuring out how to help families’ transition to sustainable products.”
Gaile was able to give us an in-depth Zoom tour of the master bath, fit with sustainable products of all shapes and sizes; essential oils and plastic-less floss from Public Goods, compostable Band-Aids from Nutricare, as well as other favorites from companies like, well kept, by Humankind, Skagerak, and Texidors.
We are excited to continue working with Gaile on more projects, – including Floating Bar House in Los Altos Hills, which is currently under construction. “We love working with FA because we can be involved from the very beginning of the project- we can work as a unified team to deliver on the client’s vision.” Gaile and her team are already deeply involved in the spatial planning and interior architecture at Floating Bar House – we can’t wait to show you how it turns out!
As Shelter in Place Policies are lifted, Gaile Guevara Studio wants to help support all those who have been of service as front liners to ensure our communities are safe and healthy. Before everyone returns to their regular routines and consuming, they’d like to provide some simple solutions to help pave the way forward to more sustainable consumption. In efforts to show their appreciation for the suppliers who are leading the way with helping educate around sustainable alternatives, Gaile Guevara Studio is offering remote consultations – providing new clients access to their suppliers, resources & special discounting. Proceeds from the design consultations will be put towards custom care packages to front liners in The Nursing Ward at Manhattan Hospital and Westcoast Care in BC Canada. Get in touch for a consultation at email@example.com!
This Earth Day, we are reflecting on the current state of our world and our community. As an organization, we are committed to sustainability now more than ever, and more conscious of how the rapidly changing world around us affects not only the spaces we design, but also our team that so beautifully designs them.
With COVID 19 changing the status quo, it’s a good time to reflect on our mission and our values. It also seems like a great time to highlight a few updates about our 2020 sustainability efforts, and to refresh our passion and commitment to leadership in the sustainability space.
As a milestone year in our industry’s journey towards carbon neutrality by 2030, we are happy to report our progress in a newly updated Action Plan. In December of 2016 Feldman Architecture signed onto the 2030 Challenge and AIA 2030 Commitment, two programs that are promoting a vision that calls for all new buildings, developments, and renovations to be carbon-neutral by 2030. As part of this commitment Feldman Architecture’s Sustainability AOE has crafted this Action Plan to serve as a roadmap to help us achieve our goals, as well as to encourage more sustainable practices within the firm. In it we outline short and long-term goals in areas that go beyond just sustainable design, including community outreach and office culture.
This year, we are releasing a 2020 update to our sustainability Action Plan on Earth Day– outlining our progress from the past year and highlighting both what we have achieved and where we can improve. A highlight includes our recently launched Zero Carbon Operations Plan for our office.
Secondly, this spring, Jonathan Feldman was appointed to the AIA California COTE (Committee on the Environment) which works to educate and inform the design community about environmental and preservation issues and advise the organization on policy matters affecting the practice of architecture. Jonathan is excited to be serving on the communications subcommittee, working alongside peers to drive our industry in a sustainable and responsible direction.
And lastly, we are excited to say that our newly appointed Sustainability Integration Leader, and longtime FA Associate Ben Welty, is working with AIA SF on programming for their Sustainability Symposium this fall. Stay tuned for more!
We hope everyone is staying healthy and safe this spring- with an overwhelming amount of uncertainty and anxiety circulating, it’s easy to feel unmoored. Here at Feldman Architecture, we have transitioned our team to a fully remote workflow, and are working hard to continue to move our current projects forward while keeping an ear to the ground for new opportunities. Through this difficult time, we are finding reassurance and strength in our extremely hardworking, dedicated and talented team, as well as our amazing community of collaborators. Please enjoy a few updates, a glimpse into remote working as an architect, and more in our spring newsletter – which can be found here!
Spring 2020 Sustainability Updates: Notes from Carbon Positive 20, and AIA 2030 Commitment Reporting
Our sustainability committee is off to a productive and eventful 2020! Last week, FA Associate Ben Welty attended the Carbon Positive ’20 conference in LA, organized by Architect Magazine and Architecture 2030, meeting with some of the top studios and professionals in the nation to discuss reducing and offsetting carbon in the design world. Below, find some nuggets of wisdom from Ben – who made sure to keep us updated back in San Francisco on lessons learned.
- The original goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 is too late. If we don’t zero out our carbon emissions by 2040 and avoid a 1.5C increase in average global temperatures, we will experience a climate change that is irreversible.
- Everybody here knows we can accomplish our goals. And we’re intent to go back to our communities with this shared knowledge and make a difference. Fortunately, the design and construction industry still has the power to affect change. We drive policy decisions, advancements in technology, and public awareness.
- The production of Cement (the binding agent in concrete) accounts for 8% of total global emissions. Steel production accounts for 7%. China has poured more concrete in the last four years than the U.S. did in the 20th century. Alternative production methods will be key to us reaching our goals.
- While we’re trying to eliminate fossil fuel use in the building industry-we’re still using fossil fuel-based products (rigid insulation) to reduce our reliance on coal and natural gas. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is essentially the same material we legislated out of the food packaging industry 30 years ago.
- Hemp seems poised to play a big part in reducing our CO2 emissions moving forward as states continue to loosen hemp regulations.
- Women accounted for roughly 40% of newly licensed architects in 2019. 50% of this conference’s speakers are women, and by my estimation at least 50% of the attendees are women. So while still
underrepresented in the field their contributions in battling the global climate crisis outweighs their male counterparts.
On another note, it’s been 3 years since Feldman Architecture first committed to the 2030Challenge– joining more than 1,000 firms across the nation in a pledge to create only carbon-neutral buildings by 2030. This January, our firm was the first to report our annual progress on carbon neutrality to the AIA 2030 Commitment Design Data Exchange (DDx), enabling others to learn from our work. We hope that in sharing our processes and challenges, we can encourage transparency and prioritize leadership in reducing our carbon footprint. Stay tuned for our annual detailed report on our 2030 Action Plan, to be published soon!
Kendall’s passion for interior design burgeoned during a trip abroad to Paris- where she became enamored with French architecture and antiques. Combined with her love for nature, specifically natural and organic patterns, Kendall found her niche in interior design after graduating from UC San Diego, she pursued a degree at San Francisco Academy of Art College, specializing in design.
Staying true to her roots, Kendall’s interests have remained in both French and classic design- but have undergone a degree of modernization for today’s clientele. She describes her personal style as romantic, however, “it’s gotten more tonal – leaning towards a neutral palette.” As she developed her practice, Kendall Wilkinson Design, Kendall aimed to create aesthetically pleasing homes, without being too precious or over the top.
Kendall described her ideal relationship with an architect as “synergetic, communicative, and respectful” and emphasized that the more cohesive a team, the better the working relationship, and the better the final product.
On our Woodpecker Ranch project, Kendall pointed to this synergy that made the collaboration successful and worthwhile. “FA did not only have a good lead architect they had a good all-around team.” This consistency found across team members made problem solving more efficient, the teams were able to consult each other before turning to the client, which saved everyone time and money- and resulted in one of her favorite projects.
Most recently, KWD released a new line of fabrics, partnering with Fabricut, – Kendall’s first collection of indoor-outdoor textiles and trims. “All of the inspiration came from my travels: images, moments, sights and even sounds that resonated with me,” Wilkinson says. “My trips to Paris and Mexico significantly inspired me. A lot of the geometrical patterns stem from Paris, particularly how the light reflects and refracts on the architecture. Mexico inspired bright colors and more botanical elements.” Read more in Luxe!
Kate Stickley fell into landscape architecture by chance, a suggestion from her college counselor, as a path that could combine her love of the outdoors, patterns, weather and art. Her career began in Florida, master planning international resorts and hotels, where she realized what was missing in her experience and process, “for me the connection with the end user is so important. This type of work didn’t allow me to connect with the individuals who were actually going to be interacting with the landscape.” After practicing around the world, she was ready to settle into her own practice, focusing on residential projects.
After moving to the Bay Area- Kate joined forces with close confidant and collaborator Vera Gates and together they birthed Arterra– a name encompassing the core of their work Art + Terra (Latin for Earth). Growing a practice while raising families solidified Arterra’s values as a residential firm- family centric, women run, and sustainably focused.
Gretchen Whittier described her growth into a landscape architect as a “regression.” As the daughter of a stone mason and a gardener on a 30 acre property in New Hampshire, concepts like soil management are in her blood. It wasn’t until getting behind a drafting table in a UC Berkeley extension class did she realize that landscape architecture fed all of her varying interests. Gretchen joined Arterra in 2005, and was promoted to partner in 2015.
Today, Arterra has found their niche as local leaders in site sensitive, sustainable, residential landscaping. The firm began designing small urban gardens, but has since grown to bigger and more environmentally complex projects. They find joy in connecting with their clients in envisioning their long term goals- and achieving them in the most sustainable way possible.
The Arterra team has always thought that working native and Mediterranean plants into their landscapes made the most sense aesthetically and environmentally – even before it was trendy. They aim for their designs to seamlessly connect architecture to the site, finding harmony between the two.
This organic indoor connection is perfectly framed in our Sonoma Wine Country project- designed as a dialogue between landscape, architecture, and site. Kate remembers being so in tune with the Feldman team that even a slight redesign in to the master bath lead to a re-envisioning of some of the outdoor elements, which in turn sparked a reference to the interior fireplace. “That’s what why we love working with FA, we value each other’s contribution in the design process, and our teams collaborate beautifully and effectively.”
“There is no signature Arterra garden. Our landscaping is all specifically tailored to the site and the architecture. We want our clients to say ‘I cannot even remember what it looked like before.’ It should look like it has always been there”- Kate Stickley