Staff Spotlight: Daniel Holbrook

Q: Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, about an hour outside of Philadelphia. My parents still live there, as well as my sister and her two kids. Lancaster is a small city, but has a very vibrant downtown. I always knew I wanted to live in a city.

Q: Where did you go to school?

I went to college at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg Va which is in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Blacksburg is very rural, the opposite of city life, not at all where I pictured myself studying architecture.  However, I fell in love with the campus, the surrounding mountains and the great architecture school.

Q: Who is in your family?

My wife, Mollye, who is a structural engineer.  We have a two year daughter together named Ellis.

I also have an older sister and younger brother whom I’m very close with, as well as my parents—all in Pennsylvania.

My sister is a school teacher and administrator. My mom owns and runs her own women’s apparel store specializing in handmade purses.  My father has spent 30+ years in plastics and manufacturing.

My brother also studied architecture at Virginia Tech, but with more of a focus on furniture design. We overlapped for one year in design school.  He’s now working for a cabinetry shop that designs and manufactures casework, as well running a small woodworking business called Hambone Philadelphia. He manufactures small wooden objects, like cutting boards, desk organizers and candle holders.  I have one of his desk organizers on my desk in the office.

Q: When did you first develop an interest in architecture?

Like a lot of architects, I was obsessed with legos as a kid. Whether it was legos or tree forts, I loved to build  things. I always enjoyed art classes and really liked drawing. My mom told me I should be an architect, and since I always listen to my mom, here we are! It was a profession that melded all my interests together and I decided, in high school, to pursue it as major in college and then a career. It’s somewhat terrifying to think that my “highschool self” made such a substantial decision!

Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?

I like small ones that have a “jewelry-box” quality; ones with intricate details but not a massive amount of square footage to coordinate..  Residential projects are a lot of fun, I really like working closely with clients to design a house that elevates and simplifies the way they live.

Q: How long have you worked at FA?

It will be five years in September.

Q: What makes our office unique?

Our office is very collaborative. There is a general sense that we get to the best place by talking to each other and relying on each other’s expertise’ rather than one person taking ownership over an idea or project. There’s also a total lack of ego in the office which comes from the top down. It really causes us to look at a design or a project and decide what’s best for it, rather than what each individual is trying to achieve through it.

Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work?

Well, I get to bike to work, which I really like. But day in and day out, the people at Feldman are the best part about coming to work. I feel very fortunate that I get to work with such a smart, talented group of designers.

Q: Do you think you could live abroad in another country? Where would you choose to go?

100%. I almost burned my return ticket from Copenhagen when I was there a  few years ago. Copenhagen is an unbelievably humane and livable city with lots of families and kids.

Q: Do you have a professional role model?

My Grandfather, Father and Mother all started their own small businesses. Each of them worked incredibly hard to build something from the ground up.  My Grandfather started his own accounting firm, My Mother owns her own retail store and my Father ran a manufacturing company for most of my childhood. Very different ventures, but their individual work ethic and drive to do things right has always been my professional compass.

Q: What’s your design process like?

Iterative. I typically work through a design problem to the point of frustration and then walk away.

I take calculated breaks to finally get comfortable with a solution. Often I’ll find solutions to a design problem while doing something unrelated, like cooking or running.  Walking away and coming back to the design with a clear head is crucial for my individual process.  Often my first reaction to a design problem ends up being the right one, but not always, so it’s imperative for me to work through multiple failures to test that initial reaction to a design problem.

Q: What are your opinions on robots?

I’m a little scared of them to be quite honest. Most movies about robots do NOT end well…

That being said, I did see a video recently of a robot framing a house and that seems really exciting.  Not totally sure how I feel about giving robots nail guns though…

Our Second Summer Intern Has Arrived!

We’re excited to introduce you to our second intern for the summer, Ying Pan! Ying is from Taiwan, and before coming to San Francisco, graduated from a vocational high school in Taipei. During that time she majored in drafting, but is now currently studying architecture at UC Berkeley. She will be helping us by translating work for our clients who speak mandarin, as well as working on a few of our in-progress projects  around the office. Outside of school and the office, Ying’s hobbies include playing basketball and skateboarding, and she loves puppies!

ICFF in New York City

By Lindsey Theobald

ICFF is known for being a High End Furniture Fair that showcases the latest and greatest furniture, finishes, and lighting from all over the world.  This last May was my first trip to the fair and now I wonder why I haven’t gone every year.  Practically every manufacturer, designer, and product I admire showcased there and it was such a treat to see it all in person.  As a specifier of furnishings and lighting, I believe that products are understood so much better when seen in person.  Scale, quality, craft, and detail can be realized only when seen in person.  And that’s exactly what I was able to do at ICFF.

The show itself was at Javits Convention Center, NYC’s HUGE convention space on the Hudson. However, some of the best showcases were dotted throughout the city as part of New York’s Design Week.  One of these treasures was the design gallery NEXT LEVEL.  A handful of NYC contemporary designers (Asher Israelow, Eskayel, Hart Textiles, Here Projects, Patrick Weder, and others) curated a large gallery space in NoHo that blurred the line between furniture exhibition and art gallery.

The furniture was crafted to a high level of artistic expression and it was a treat to discuss inception and procedure with the artists themselves.  I had picked NEXT LEVEL as a must see because of wood worker Asher Israelow and leather artist Brit Kleinman (of AVO).  Asher takes brass inlays to a new level, creating brass constellations in wood table tops and brass rivers in dressers.  He collaborated with AVO, an artist of printed leather rugs and tiles that I’ve used in past projects, on a low slung walnut chair with painted leather upholstery.  Patrick Weder was a new find for me.  His wood and concrete credenzas were insane!  Hand carded concrete molded perfectly into beautifully crafted wood credenzas and turned simple furniture into art pieces.  It’s wonderful to find new artists and designers and Patrick Weder is one I hope to use in future projects.  Another fun find at NEXT LEVEL was Kin & Company, a collaboration between two cousins (get it? Kin?).  I had the pleasure of talking with co-founder Kira de Paola about her whimsical side tables and mirrors that are the exact products that can add so much life to an otherwise neutral and “safe” design.  I’ve been liking the half circle shape and I saw it reflected frequently in Kin & Co’s work – a beautiful balance between architectural and decorative.

Since it was Spring in NYC, I took advantage of the beautiful weather and walked from NEXT LEVEL in NoHo to my next destination – SoHo.  Not only were there multiple New York Design Week pop-ups throughout SoHo, it was a thrill to see other stores and spaces that just had great design.  One of these spaces is the Rachel Comey flagship store designed by Elizabeth Roberts and Charles de Lisle.  My idea of heaven is where architecture and fashion come together!  Lately, I’ve been a huge fan of terrazzo and the store used a concrete version on the floors.  The store is located in a former mechanic’s garage, so a bit of the industrial flavor remains in the steel store front and some heavy timber.  Those items, plus the terrazzo and the addition of board form concrete walls highlighted by soft natural light from skylights above, create an idyllic serene setting that highlight the clothing on display.

The first night consisted of party hoping in SoHo, starting with the Boffi/DePadova showroom, organized by our friends at DZine here in SF.  Boffi is located right in the middle of the design district of SoHo, so I was able to stop in at many more design store happy hours from there, including Artemide, Ingo Maurer, Lee Broom, USM, Foscarini, Tom Dixon, RBW, and Kartell.

The next day was another off-site design stop, this time at the Radnor curated apartment in The Bryant, David Chipperfield’s new residential tower.  Upon arriving I was thrilled to see even more terrazzo!  Tons of it!  David Chipperfield used concrete terrazzo panels on the exterior and interior walls.  The terrazzo was gorgeous, with large aggregates of marble and stone in them.  Plus, Radnor’s curated rooms were the perfect complement to the stunning apartment.  Radnor is a new company formed by the amazing Susan Clark who has a total knack for finding amazing artists and designers and taking them under her wing to curate a showroom of beautiful artists.  Radnor currently represents about 11 designers, only a couple of which I knew (Pelle, Egg Collective, and Workstead I’ve used in past projects and am a huge fan of all three).  Su is a kindred spirit in terms of the design world.  I could easily sense her excitement about each of her designers and that excitement transferred as she spoke about each one and told me their story. I even got to meet one of her designers, a fabulous woodworker name Adam Rogers, whose work celebrates the construction of furniture in its design.

I could have wandered around the city visiting off-site exhibitions all week, but I needed to focus on the actual ICFF fair itself!  I thought it may be dull compared to the amazing exhibitions I’d seen so far, but I was wrong.  It was amazing to see so many of the brands and manufacturers in-person that I usually only view online. I got to say hello to the folks at Brendon Ravenhill, who supplied most of the decorative lighting for our new office, make new connections at Concrete Collaborative (from San Clemente, my old hood!  And they have gorgeous concrete terrazzo!!), and learn about new-to-me designers and manufacturers (Larose Guyon, Hinterland, CVL Luminaires, Sollos, Empire rugs, District Eight, Ercol, I could go on and on!).  I loved talking directly with the designers themselves and just seeing so many products in person was a huge treat.

Another wish list item for me was to visit Bec Brittain’s showroom and studio.  Bec is a lighting designer, originally from Lindsey Adelman’s studio, and now very much successful in her own eponymous line.  Each line of fixtures from Bec Brittain feels like individual art pieces, yet I’ve been able to use them in many projects without them looking out of place or too precious.  Bec opened her studio for NYC X Design Week and showcased a collaboration between her and John Hogan, a glass artist.  I was blown away by their new line, ‘Aries’, where Bec’s lights shown on John’s glass pieces in such a way that each piece threw off rainbows of color, looking different depending on your point of view.  Again, her pieces are super fun without crossing the line into gaudy.  Her showroom is also her working studio, so I was able to see prototypes, items used at special installations, custom pieces, and all the baubbles and shiny pieces that get crafted into one of Bec Brittain’s fixtures.  I continue to be a super fan of hers!

Many of our SF reps were busy at ICFF too.  I got to meet up with Anne Luna from CRI San Francisco to swap stories about what we’ve seen and liked.  I attended a cocktail party thrown by Jenne and Adam from Jak-w at the Bolon flagship, which was great, not only because Jenne and Adam are the best, but because I finally got to see the vinyl carpet they’ve been raving about.  One night, I was invited to attend a dinner hosted by a favorite of mine, Muuto.  The dinner was held in a large space on the 4th or 5th floor of a downtown building that was completely furnished in Muuto sofas, chairs, lights, rugs, etc.  As a big fan of Muuto, I thought the place looked awesome.  And in a classic NY moment, the dinner was being prepared by nineteen-year-old Flynn McGarry, the boy wonder chef who just opened his own restaurant on the Lower East Side.  He has been written up in the Times on a couple occasions, and he’s a bit of a phenomenon, so that made the dinner even more special!  Only in NY.

On my last day in New York, I got to meet up with our SF Herman Miller reps at their flagship store.  Not only is the store home to the Herman Miller NY offices, it also is home to Maharam.  We were treated to a champagne breakfast and then given a $100 golden ticket to spend on anything in the store on the street level.  The store itself was super interesting.  For each season, the curators make up a family and give them personalities, jobs, interests and use those stories to craft their displays.  I forget their entire story, but it was a fun concept to think about while browsing the store.  I picked out a Jaime Hayon vase that uses the Japanese flower arranging technique, Ikebana.  It’s beautiful and I’m pleased to own an item from a designer I admire.  After shopping, we toured the Herman Miller offices; got to try out their newly launched task chair, the Cosm; and then were led on a tour of Maharam to see how they operate, get a glimpse of their sample library, and get a sneak peek at some of their new collaborations.

I needed to stay in NY a couple more days to absorb it all, but I had to get back.  I feel now that ICFF is a must, at least every other year, though I’d love to go again right away in 2019.  Not only was it an opportune way to see so many products in person, it was great to meet up with so many SF reps and designers 3,000 miles away!

Feldman Architecture’s Open (Fire)House!

By Serena Brown

A little planning goes a long away, and a lot of planning makes for a great event! A few weeks ago we hosted our first Open House Fundraising Event in our new design studio. This has been my project since I started here at Feldman so it was especially satisfying to see it all come to fruition. We invited a number of industry friends and colleagues to visit our newly renovated space and help raise money to benefit those affected by the North Bay fires, in conjunction with Rebuild Wine Country.

Before the big day, our office underwent a transformation. The materials library was converted into our Raffle Hall, with all the gifts that had been graciously donated to us from businesses all around the bay on display. We were given tickets to various museums around the city, gorgeous designer furniture pieces, books and items from local shops, and even a signed Kevin Durant jersey! Overall, a respectable haul.

Our main office space remained largely unchanged, besides the conversion of my desk into the main bar and a raffle ticket station tucked against the far wall. In the days following the event, I kept a pack of wet wipes handy for leftover alcohol stickiness. The upstairs landing housed our second bar and candy station, as well as a few standing tables for mingling and conversation. As the night went on, the main floor became increasingly crowded, thus we did our best to encourage people upstairs to enjoy the view.

We were lucky enough to have Matt Wrobel come by to play two gorgeous guitar performances. My only regret is that there were so many voices that his music got almost completely drowned out! We’ll have to have him back once again for a more intimate gathering. We were also happy to learn that our summer intern Parker has a knack for photography and was able to take snapshots throughout the event. To see some photos and get a glimpse of our new space, head over the Flikr album HERE.

Every staff member had their assigned post for the evening which made the event flow smoothly and my stress levels remain neutral, a rare feat for any event planner! I was happy to see our guests and designers alike mingling, laughing, scouting out raffle prizes, and generally having a wonderful time. The raffle drawing occurred at the conclusion of the evening, and while everyone was able to collect their prizes in the end, I do wish I had thought to get a mic for the announcements. Our golden ticket winner chose to head home with a beautiful bench from Leverone Design. The highly coveted KD jersey ended up going home with someone who had only put one ticket in the jar! Lucky indeed.

Thanks to everyone’s enthusiasm and generosity, we were able to raise $8,500 for our cause. Our goal was set at $10,000, but we had the unfortunate coincidence of hosting our event the same night The Warriors were playing game 4, so perhaps we missed out on a few super-fan guests! I really enjoyed hosting such a fun party in our new space and I hope to do it again in the future.

If anyone is still interested in supporting our cause and donating to Rebuild Wine Country, you can find more information on their website HERE.

Staff Spotlight: Rebecca Hora

Q: Where are you from?

I grew up in Bridgewater Connecticut, a small town in the northwest corner of the state. While the area is very rural, it is only about an hour and half outside of Manhattan. When I was younger I played outside all the time, did a lot of gardening, and played with our dog.

Q: Where did you go to school?

I received my bachelors of Environmental Design in Architecture from the College of Design at North Carolina State University and then went to the University of Virginia where I received my Masters of Architecture.

Q: Tell me about your family

I am getting married in three weeks!  My fiancé, Ryan and I met in Manhattan almost four years ago and moved to San Francisco about a year and a half ago.  I have two wonderful older sisters, a brother-in-law and a brother-in-law to-be.  I also just became an Aunt! My sisters, mom, and dad all live in Connecticut.

Q: When did you first develop an interest in architecture?

Probably when I was in elementary or middle school. I grew up in a historic house that my father was renovating, so there were always a lot of family projects going on. I got to learn a lot about the building process and craftsmanship that goes into updating a house. In high school I took drafting and architecture classes and applied directly into architecture when applying to college.

Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?

I really enjoy residential projects. Lately, I’ve been a lot more focused on interiors, I love the detail that’s associated with it.

Q: How long have you worked at FA?

I’ve been at Feldman since October of 2016. I moved from Manhattan where I was working at a small architecture firm.

Q: What makes our office unique/Why did you choose Feldman?

I chose Feldman for its aesthetic, design values, and office culture! It’s a group of really great, very social, and active people.

Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work?

The variety of projects I get to work on, site visits and my amazing coworkers!

Q: Do you have a professional role model?

Annabelle Selldorf. I went to a lecture of hers in New York and she described starting out with small residential remodels and working her way up from there!  I think it’s inspiring that she built such an influential firm from the ground up.

Q: What’s your design process like?

It varies depending on the project. I always do site and contextual research because I believe it’s important to react to the surrounding environment. It is critical to have a general understanding and appreciation for the vernacular of a place- to establish a foundation for which to build and expand, while drawing from respected roots.  Physical models are also always helpful.

Q: Do you bear resemblance to anyone in your family? (looks or personality)

I think I take after both of my parents pretty equally.  My dad has inspired a strong work ethic, an attention to detail, and appreciation of craft.  My mom cultivated creativity, exploration and to count my blessings.

Q: What location do you most want to travel to? Why?

TAHITI (In three weeks!)

Staff Spotlight: Heera Basi

Q: Where are you from?

I grew up in Palo Alto, but I’ve lived in San Francisco for seven years.

Q: Where did you go to school?

I did my undergrad at UC San Diego, and grad school, where I got my Masters of Architecture degree, at UCLA.

Q: Tell me about your family.

My husband’s name is Ben, we met through mutual friends and have been married for 9 ½ months! My roommate at the time was out to dinner with some friends at local Mexican restaurant and I was heading home from a happy hour after work. I met up with them, he was there, we got to talking, and the rest is history.

My husband’s parents live in LA along with his younger sister. My grandfather who is 91 lives with my parents in Palo Alto, but they’re getting ready to move to Boston for a couple of years. I also have a younger brother who lives in Sunnyvale and works in San Jose.

Q: When did you first develop an interest in architecture?

Probably when my parents remodeled their house, I was about 14. The process of creating plans seemed cool, and it was fun getting to design a custom home just for them. The whole house was remolded, but my only contribution at the time was painting my room bright yellow

I actually started as a molecular bio major at UCSD but pretty quickly realized that I didn’t really want to be a doctor or go into research. I wasn’t passionate about pursuing a career in science, so I started thinking about what else I was interested in. Math and art had always appealed to me, so architecture seemed like a good combination of the two. UCSD doesn’t have an architecture program though, so I majored in urban studies and planning, knowing I would do a masters in architecture eventually.

Q: What kinds of projects do you most enjoy working on?

Projects for nice people! I like working on single family residential designs. Designing for someone’s forever home and making it custom for what their family needs is really rewarding. One of my favorite projects was a home I worked on a home in Portola Valley for a very sweet family a few years back. The clients were really nice, the contractor was great, and the design was modern but restrained. We were able to do really beautiful custom details, all the furniture too, inside and out. I also enjoy working on interiors. All of it together makes the complete package

Q: How long have you worked at FA?

I’ve worked here for two years! But I’ve been working in San Francisco for about 7 years.

Q: What makes our office unique?

The people and the culture. Everyone has very unique personalities and there’s a good mix of people with different strengths. It’s easy to ask people different questions, since everyone is an expert in a unique area.

The partners and upper management make an effort to create a good work environment, with the happy hours, Monday lunches, occasional massages, gift cards, etc.

Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work?

My favorite days to come to work are the ones where I get to make a site visit, particularly when a project is under construction. It’s fun to see the design come to life.  I also enjoy the days when I get to sit at my desk and design!

Q: Do you have a professional role model?

I thought a lot about this one. The closest person I  can think of actually isn’t an architect, but a family friend, Maya Ajmera. She started the Global Fund for Children and is currently the President and CEO of Society for Science & the Public. She built an amazing career and is very confident, articulate, and outgoing. She seems to have a clear idea of what she wants and knows how to make it happen.

Q: How many countries have you travelled to?

I’m fortunate to have traveled a lot! In Europe I’ve been to England, Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland, and Austria. I studied abroad in Spain and did a lot of travelling around Europe at that time, plus when I was younger I had a French pen pal whom I visited.  In Africa I’ve been to South Africa, Zambia, and Tanzania while visiting a friend in the Peace Corp. Mexico, Tahiti, Thailand, Indonesia, and Costa Rica were all family vacations. Speaking of, we have a lot of family in Canada and India as well. Lastly, in grad school I was working on a student project based in Brazil, so I was able to travel there twice.

Q: If someone were to make a movie about your life, who would you choose to play the part of you?

I don’t know what direction to go here, realistic or glamorous? If I was going to choose glamorous I would go with Beyoncé. Realistically… Mindy Kaling, because she’s Indian, smart and funny.

2030 Commitment 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. To learn more, click on the Action Plan below:

Getting to Zero National Forum

By Sophia Beavis

At the end of April, I had the opportunity to present and attend Getting to Zero National Forum in Pittsburgh. This conference brings together thought leaders from across the country to discuss pathways to carbon neutrality. I always come back from conferences reinvigorated with new ideas for project goals, and the GTZNF was no exception.

I kicked off the 3 day conference with an 8:30am presentation with my co-presenters, Heather Jauregui and Katie Herber from Perkins Eastman. Together we gave our presentation entitled “How Do You Measure Up? New Ways to Evaluate Project Success”. It was a pretty lively 1.5hour session. We first gave a brief presentation covering what high performance means, and the types of metrics used to measure its success in pre and post occupancy studies. We then broke out into 3 groups that rotated every 10 minutes, allowing participants to learn about and use all the tools we’d discussed. Overall our audience was very engaging and had lots of questions about how to start Pre and Post Occupancy Evaluations at their own firms. I think it was a good opportunity for people to get hands-on experience with tools they may have heard about, but not had the chance to use. I’m hoping we inspired people to start their own office toolkits and studies.

Once our presentation was over I was able to enjoy the rest of the conference. One of the conference events was a happy hour at the Phipps Conservatory which has two Living Building Challenge Buildings on its campus. I had seen photos of the buildings, but it was cool to see them in person and peek into their mechanical rooms.

One of the keynote speakers was Andrew McAllister from the California Energy Commission. Being from California, I found his talk particularly interesting as he showed how the CA code is going to step up to become carbon neutral – including in 2 years how new homes will be required to have solar panels. It was interesting hearing from him how CA has these efforts within the state code, but in the end it’s up to the local jurisdictions to enforce it. This was a theme that came up in a number of sessions – how do we ensure that the entire hierarchy from the state level to the local building inspector are pushing the same goals towards carbon neutrality?

Paired with the keynote session, I heard from David Kaneda at Integral Group who talked about the “duck curve” in Net Zero Energy Design. The duck curve is the graph which shows power production over the course of the day and shows the imbalance between energy production and peak demand. At the “belly of the duck” we have an over generation risk that causes the grid to become overloaded and the energy to go to waste. Ideally the curve would look flatter, and more like a duckbilled platypus.

One way to solve the duck curve is by using batteries that can release energy during peak demand, often in the evening when there is no energy being produced. An interesting example of the duck curve causing problems is that for 14 days in March, the state of California paid the state of Arizona to take our extra energy produced during the daytime because our grid couldn’t handle all the production power. California even ordered some solar plants to reduce their production during this time. To me this means wherever we are installing solar panels, we should be installing batteries for on-site storage so that we do not further the grid being overloaded with energy production.

Another great session I attended was by Chelsea Petrenko who lead a study of CA residential homebuyers and owners to evaluate their interest in and understanding of a Net Zero Energy (NZE) home. The study found that less than 50% of homeowners knew what a NZE home was, yet people rated energy efficient design as a very important attribute when searching for a new home. I found it interesting that most people would pay a 2-4% higher price for a NZE home. This is interesting because studies have repeatedly shown that construction cost for a high performance building is less than 5% higher than a typical one. So if people are willing to pay 5% more, why aren’t we spending less than that in construction to build an energy efficient building? I think people often have issues with increased upfront cost, but the gains in profit seem to outweigh the upfront cost in almost every case.

I went to many other interesting sessions, but these were the highlights for me. They almost left me with more questions than answers, and triggered my brain to think about how I as an individual, and those of us in the architecture profession can be doing more to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. In the United States, 39% of energy is consumed by buildings, so as architects we have have a lot of influence over our energy future.