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.

Meet Our First Summer Intern!

We’re so excited to introduce our first summer intern, Parker!

Parker will be joining Feldman Architecture for the summer of 2018, helping us on a few projects we have in progress around the office! He is currently studying to get his B.A. in Architecture at Syracuse University in New York after having studied architecture for four years at Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco. He is a contributing editor to the arts & culture blog Warm World Productions and as a San Francisco native, enjoys sailing, photography, traveling, and taking walks with his dog at the beach.

Welcome Parker!

Staff Spotlight: Sophia Beavis

Q: Where are you from?

I’m from here! I grew up down in Palo Alto, then went to the University of Washington in Seattle for undergrad. I came back to Palo Alto for a year to work in an architecture firm nearby, then moved to Eugene, Oregon and attended the University of Oregon for grad school. After graduating I moved to Tahoe for a year to work at a residential firm, then back to San Francisco where I live now. I like to say I’m from the west coast, although I did study abroad in both Italy and Copenhagen while in school.

Q: Who is in your family?

I have a gigantic family, and it’s really close knit. My immediate family includes my husband Charlie, my brother, parents, and I, but I have 13 cousins and my mom is one of five sisters. There are 29 of us on my mom’s side and we get together at least once a year. Like I said, tight knit. I actually grew up a mile away from my aunt and her family, so I saw my cousins a lot. Charlie’s parents live in Half Moon Bay, so his side of the family is nearby to. I always thought it was nice to have family close by.

In terms of careers, my husband is a special education teacher here in the City, my dad is an engineer of supercomputer architecture and mom is a strategic implementation manager at Wells Fargo. I say she makes processes more efficient– she really likes efficiency. I think that’s where my love of efficiency comes from. My brother also works at Wells Fargo, but he’s a strategy and data analyst for one of their internal groups. He’s a year and half younger than me so we grew up pretty close. We never fought as kids and were always close friends.

Q: Describe your favorite movie or book in a way that would make me want to read/watch it.

Let’s start with my favorite movie. Actually, I don’t know if it’s my favorite, but there’s a story that goes along with it. So I don’t like flying, but I did a lot of it since I went out of state for college. Back in the days before in-flight movies I would keep one movie on my Ipod- Legally Blonde. It’s now become very comforting and I tend to watch it anytime I feel stressed, or anxious. I feel like it’s similar to eating good mac and cheese. Comforting.

Favorite book is harder, I love most of the books that I’ve read. Right now I am loving the Dharma Bums – I love the idea that you can’t fall off a mountain. The biggest problem my husband and I have when we move apartments is the number of books we collectively own.

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

Architecture has sort of always been in my life, my grandpa was an architect. My cousins and I used to spend chunks of the summer at his house. He’d take us to his office to play with blueprint machines, pencils, and trace. Back then though, I wasn’t really aware of what architects did.

In college I was on the crew team and therefore got priority registration for classes so that they didn’t conflict with our practice times. This meant that I could enroll in difficult to get classes. Freshman year I signed up for art, calculus, and calculus based physics. Sometime during the year my art teacher held check in’s and asked me what I wanted to do. I told her I was thinking about structural engineering, since I like both building and drawing. She asked me if I’d ever considered architecture and that was my light bulb moment. It was when architecture first really entered my radar. The timing worked out too, I transferred into Architecture my spring quarter of freshmen year and started the prerequisites the following fall quarter!

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

I had sort of a funny path to get to where I am now. Both my 1st and 2nd jobs were at residential firms, so after working there I thought I should try something else. While working at EHDD in the city, I designed aquariums, schools, student housing– all giant projects. They were so massive that the career path at that firm, to me, was to become a project manager, and that doesn’t necessarily involve a lot of design. I like our projects because you can work both with design and with consultants. You get to wear a lot of hats. I also really enjoy projects that have constraints—like particular quirks of the client.  One fun instance was when we had a client tell us “we want chickens on our roof!”

Q: How long have you worked at FA?

I’ve been here a year and a half now, since September of 2016.

Q: What makes our office unique?

I like our size, we’re not too small or too large, it still feels like a family. We also have a lot of different projects going on at the same time, so lots of interesting things are always going on around the office. Everyone here is really smart and works hard, which I think is pretty unique. Everyone is just good at their job.

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

I love bringing Moo (my dog) to work. Plus, if you couldn’t already tell, I like the people here. I like my projects too. And I don’t get bored.

Q: Do you have a professional role model?

My role model has changed over time, I think that there are a lot of amazing women in architecture, but at the same time, there aren’t. There are a lot of different people I respect but I don’t think any of them are famous. I just have a lot of amazing people in my life.

Q: What’s your design process like?

Sometimes a little schizophrenic, like my brain, but it all comes together. I like to use a lot of tools at once, so I tend to have trace, Sketch Up, Revit and everything else open at the same time. I like to leverage them all together. I’ll zoom out to look at the massing of a building but also focus on the small details. It can seem chaotic since there are so many moving parts, but that’s how my brain works.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years I see myself moving out of San Francisco to somewhere more in nature, raising kids with my husband, working at a firm on the weekdays, and taking the family on adventures on the weekends. I really enjoy being out in nature, especially for running! I like to run really long distances on the weekends. I ran a 50-miler in Marin County one weekend and it took me 11hrs and 22min. We started in Marin and ended it by running across the Golden Gate to Chrissy Field. It was potentially one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but also one of the most satisfying. I was laughing and smiling and crying as I crossed the finish line. There were just so many emotions all at once.

Portland in 48 Hours

By Evan McCurdy // Photos by Liza Karimova

Recently, Liza and I spent a short rainy weekend in Portland. Traveling around with a group of 8 friends, we were in search of two things: beer and architecture. In that order. We made the most of our first day in Portland by exploring Kengo Kuma’s pavilions at the newly renovated Japanes Gardens. It was an absolute architectural gem. Soon after, we found ourselves wandering from brewery to Powells bookstore to brewery to Voodoo donuts. We also managed to discover many street murals, food trucks, and coffee shops. Not bad for under 48 hours!