Earlier this Spring I had the opportunity to travel to Brazil to take in firsthand the urban transportation infrastructure, social policies, and landscape qualities of Curitiba. While it lies off the beaten path for many tourists, there are a tremendous amount of lessons and insights that can be gleamed from the city and its history of sustainable design practices.
A common thread running through many the programs, infrastructure, and buildings is a keen eye for what already exists in the environment. As an example, the main public transportation system was directly influenced by historical roads that organized the city, one running north/south (from cattle herding) and one running east/west (from the ocean to the mountains). This in turn led to a linear axial organization of zoning and residential density along transportation corridors.
The park system of Curitiba also offers a window into this way of thinking, from both landscape and cultural perspectives. Some parks, such as Parque Barigui, respond to the need for flood control while others, such as Parque do Papa offer scenarios for resident immigrant populations to maintain connections to traditional ways of buildings and living.
In response to material use, several public buildings and much of the park infrastructure is built from salvaged telephone poles. A story told while visiting the Department for the Environment was given of how an individual one day called the Department wondering what could be done with an excess of wood telephone poles as new metal ones were being erected. It happened to be a time when the Department of the Environment was constructing and planning a campus of buildings for itself. Instead burning, incinerating, or discarding the telephone poles the Department used them to construct their buildings and park infrastructure.
In the current climate of sustainability awareness, Curitiba offers a wonderful window into synergies generated through the participation of landscape, material, culture, social, and transportation qualities of the built environment.
– Kevin Barden
I attended a four-day Zero Net Energy course co-sponsored by Solar Action Alliance and PG&E. Topics ranged from Home Energy Audits for existing homes to determining the best types of fuel sources to achieve Net Zero Energy on a new home.
Here are a few facts I learned that you might find useful for saving energy in your current home without having to open up any walls or replacing your mechanical system:
- In the market for a new appliance, LED replacement lamps, car or laptop? Check out TopTen USA for the most up to date information on which brand and model are actually achieving the highest ranks in energy and performance.
- Refrigerators with the freezer on top or bottom, (rather than vertically along the side) are more energy efficient.
- EnergyStar has never regulated clothes dryers. Most electric clothes dryers consume as much energy as a new fridge, washing machine, and dishwasher combined!
- What can you do? Gas powered clothes dryers use much less energy and innovations for electric dryers that use technology such as heat exchangers are in the works.
- Biggest “plug load” found in your home? The TV.
- While TVs have made some of the biggest improvements in energy consumption reduction, they have also gotten bigger and we own more of them per household, (proving that regulation does not need to hinder sales)
- The preset mode you have it set in can help save energy. For example, ‘Preset Cinema’ uses less than 125 watts of energy while ‘Preset Vivid’ and the ‘Default Retail Vivid’ usesover 250 watts.
- Idle electric loads average 36% of your electric bill. Do you often leave home and wonder if you left the lights on or the thermostat turned up?
- You can turn lamps and electronics off remotely, (even from your iPhone) with a simple wireless controller installed at the outlet: ByeBye Standby Wireless Remote Control Energy Saving Kit
- Control your lights remotely with wireless light switches: Belkin WeMo Light Switch
- Control your thermostat online: Nest Learning Thermostat and Honeywell Wi-Fi Programmable Touchscreen Thermostat.
Happy New Year from Feldman Architecture!
The end of 2013 brought exciting news for the firm as the Butterfly House, which we worked on with Bernard Trainor + Associates and Groza Construction, won a coveted Design Award from AIA Monterey Bay! Congratulations to the Butterfly House design and construction team.
The design of our office renovation was featured in the special edition of Design Bureau which was released in December. This coincides with the completion of another fabulous office renovation in the Presidio for a VC firm with Novo Construction. We also completed the Sausalito Outlookwith Forsythe Construction and the photos are in. You’ll see that the clients had lots of collectibles, books, and music which required careful planning and coordination to find organized and elegant storage solutions.
You may be flipping between this newsletter and our projects, and if so, you will notice our big news – the launching of a re-vamped website! This website is intended to highlight new work and feature the stunning photography of our projects while being more compatible to viewing the site on a variety of devices. You should notice bigger, bolder images but also note in terms of content that our blog now includes all of the content formerly hosted on Green Architecture Notes. The new blog will continue to highlight all things Feldman and fully integrate our thoughts and research on sustainability – as we do in any of our projects.
This fall, we have been enjoying working with Humbeen Geo, an intern and recent grad of UC Berkeley, so much that we welcome Humbeen as our newest addition to the staff.
Wishing you a happy, prosperous New Year and looking forward to working together throughout 2014!
In September, London hosted its 10th annual Design Festival, an event and exhibition showcasing the country’s best and most inspirations designs, designers, retailers, manufacturers, educators – anyone and anything having to do with design. There were events held all over the city, including massive installations by some of the world’s most exciting and inspiring designers. I love to see art installed off of museum walls, so, although I didn’t actually go to London to see these in person (sigh), the most exciting new designs for me were the installations that took over whole spaces. Two project in particular looked truly transformational: Benjamin Hubert’s Amass screen for the trade show auditorium and Najla El Zein’s windmill gate.
Our office has loved Benjamin Hubert’s lights all year (stay tuned a bio-type post on him soon), so it’s no surprise that I’m a fan of his take on a partition for the Festival’s trade show auditorium. Hubert’s Amass partition is a series of branches delicately hanging from top supports. The result is an ethereal screen in an organic form which both defines the space but also provides enough transparency to let passers-by get a glimpse of the activity within.
The branches actually are injection-moulded polypropylene, assembled from a kit of parts. After the event is over, the branches can be taken apart and reassembled for another event or venue. Hubert’s plan is to sell Amass as screen/partition/wall for other commercial and contract projects. Amass comes as a kit of parts which allows for many variations in assembly. To get a better idea of how these parts come together, check out this video taken of the Amass installation at the Festival.
Like Hubert’s Amass, Najla El Zein Studio’s The Wind Portal also blurs the definition of wall, partition, and door. The portal is a transition element between the Festival’s trade show and the outside, but one that charmingly interacts with those walking by.
The gate is a series of 5,000 windmills precisely placed to and controlled by a computerized wind system, which spins different windmills at different times and at different speeds. The installation isn’t completely about control, as the movement of air caused by passers-by also causes the windmills to turn. It’s thrilling when you can see how your actions directly affect your surroundings and Najla El Zein created a lovely way for that to happen.
Zein says that “the installation aims to make visitors feel and hear that they are transitioning between two spaces. It defines an exaggeration of a specific sensorial movement that each of us experiences throughout our daily lives.” Watch the video to see how people react – it’s wonderful.
This fall brings lots of exciting happenings around the Feldman office – new faces, new clients and projects, and the completion of several stunning projects including a fabulous office renovation at the Presidio.
In the news, Remodeling Magazine chose our Noe Valley Remodel as Project of the Year in the 2013 Design Awards; check out the video with one of the judges noting several features of the project. The Shack won a Merit Award in the Builder’s Choice and Custom Home Design Awards for Best Outdoor Space, recognizing the building’s strong indoor-outdoor relationship and Loretta Gargan’s beautiful garden design. We were also pleased to be part of the AIACC’s Monterey Design Conference Home Tours in late September, bringing architects and architecture enthusiasts to see our recently finished Butterfly House in the Santa Lucia Preserve. Check out Matthew’s blog post on the conference to get a closer look at the weekend down south which many staff members enjoyed! We’re also working on a re-design of the website to be launched in early 2014.
Dwell featured the Shack in the September issue, focusing once again on the great outdoor space in that project, and the October issue of San Francisco magazine included Mill Valley Cabins in the Design Scout section. The eco+historical Victorian Update was profiled by Ecohome Magazine, highlighting many of its green features and our collaboration with eco+historical. Also, photographer Russell Abraham released a new book, Rural Modern, which highlights modern residences from around the United States including the Caterpillar House.
‘In-house’ we also have big news with Steven Stept joining Feldman Architecture as Principal in August. Brett Moyer was named an Associate as well, recognizing his leadership within the firm as well as his dedication to clients and projects including the soon-to-be completed Ranch o|h, the soon to-be-completed modern farmhouse in Palo Alto, and the award-winning Shack. Michael Bautista and Daniel Holbrook also joined our team this month; be sure to check out their bios on our website. And finally, Hannah and Patrick Brown-Lopes welcomed Philippa (Pippa) Maya to their family. We’re wishing them the best in Hannah’s leave, and look forward to seeing the new face around the office when she returns!
The Monterey Design Conference kicked off at Asilomar Conference grounds in Pacific Grove, Designed by Julia Morgan in 1913. Here, every two years, architects and designers gather to hear from local and international industry leaders who are shaping the future of our built environments. A group of us ventured down south from San Francisco to soak it all in, finding no shortage of inspiration from the speaker discussions, workshops, and perhaps most of all from the surrounding coastal landscape in which we were all happily immersed together for the weekend.
Between conference events we also found time to enjoy the outdoors and each other’s company; Matt, Jon, and Bridgett got out for early morning runs along the ridgelines of the preserve, Jess made egg sandwiches breakfast, Kevin helped his team win at the board game Cranium, and Bridgett even made a fabulous vegan chocolate cake!
Tai and Elaine joined us on Saturday to tour the Feldman houses completed and under construction in the Preserve, and on Sunday our most recently completed Preserve project The Butterfly House was on tour for the conference. We returned after the weekend feeling refreshed and inspired.
– Matthew and Kevin
The team at Feldman makes the most of their weekends. See below! All images were taken Labor Day Weekend 2013.
Bridgett hiked to The Tourist Club on Mount Tamalpais.
Caroline was at Flora Grubb along with the resident cat.
Chris driving back from Paso Robles.
Hannah snapped a pic of the America’s Cup.
With the Bay Bridge closed for the weekend, Jess took a ferry to the East Bay.
Jonathan training the next generation of architects.
Kevin hiking in the Marin Headlands.
Lindsey and her girls at the Larkspur Marin Country Mart.
Michael found a friend at the Monterey County Fair.
Sunset from Nick’s rooftop.
Brett at a trailhead in Lucas Valley.
Steven’s daughter at the Salk Institute.
“For me, this is what it’s all about: finding sources of inspiration outside of architecture and bringing it back [to our work]”. This was Tai’s takeaway from two recent field trips that got the Feldman Architecture team got out of the office and into the field. Both offered the opportunity to gain better understanding of the raw materials and the processes that are used to manipulate them: first wood at Arborica in Marshall and then concrete at Concreteworks in Oakland.
When he realized he was feeling burnt out on the restaurant business, Evan Shively, the acclaimed chef, hung up his apron and bought a piece of land outside Marshall in Sonoma County to pursue his second dream. His vision is a lumber yard; not just any lumber yard, but a specialized mill that transforms reclaimed old-growth timbers into pieces of art. Most of the trees are over 400 years old, and the wood can take 20 years to age at a rate that maximizes stability. “It takes someone unique,” recalls Tai, “someone with an artistic eye for the material as well as the patience and the long view to carve out this kind of a business. Evan feels a responsibility to use the wood in ways that it will be most appreciated. He has learned to let the wood itself be his source of inspiration, working with the wood rather than against it.”
Andrew Kudless was working on concrete panels to be erected at the FRAC Centre in Orleans, France, and the Feldman team got a peak behind the scenes at the project. In collaboration with Concreteworks, a local fabrication studio that specializes in concrete furniture and fixtures, Andrew is testing the limits of textiles as formwork for concrete. The pieces for the FRAC commission employ Andrew’s innovative fabric-based form making combined with Concretework’s new fiberglass reinforcing technology, allowing almost endless exploration of thin-shell concrete forms. “It’s exciting to see local craftspeople who are spearheading a revolution in concrete,” said Tai. “By manipulating the production process, they are pushing the envelope and teaching us new ways to engage with a familiar material.” The installation just went up at the FRAC center, so if you find yourself in France, make sure to check it out.
We are very pleased to release a special announcement that Steven Stept, AIA, has joined Feldman Architecture as a Principal of the firm! Steven brings to us over 25 years of experience with an expertise in residential architecture. Steven has extensive studio leadership experience and has been recognized for his skillful and efficient manner in managing staff and projects; achieving clients’ budgets, schedules and goals on assignments of varying complexity and delivery methods. His ability to establish a team approach involving staff, consultants, clients, and users has been instrumental in producing highly successful projects – not only custom residential but also multi-family residential developments, commercial interiors and institutional projects.
Steven will apply his considerable background and skill to help enrich the work of Feldman Architecture as it focuses on making its designs and process worthy of the increasing challenges of our exciting new projects. He will add a seasoned design voice to Feldman’s already collaborative process and provide even more rigor to the firm’s production and management, while freeing up Jonathan to focus more on design and business development. Steven also brings a handful of wonderful projects and clients with him – which the whole firm will enjoy guiding to completion.
We look forward to introducing you to Steven in person when you next visit our office, and in the meantime, please find Steven’s bio here.
With this summer comes sun, swim, America’s Cup racing and lots of projects under construction for Feldman Architecture. The office has been a little quieter of late as site visits become more frequent. And for those in the office, we frequently step outside to look down the street and see an AC75 cruising by.
In the news, our Telegraph Hill Renovation was profiled in San Francisco’s Best of the Bay Area issue this July. Photos of this spectacular home and its stunning 360° views are now up on our website. The San Francisco Chronicle profiled The Shack which was one of the sites on the Marin Home Tour in May. The Tour brought hundreds of design enthusiasts through five homes in Marin and also led to an interview with Jonathan on Curbed SF which we encourage you to check out. Finally, the Forest Hills Renovation is appearing in the Summer issue of Modern Luxury Interiors California – check out pages 54-56.
In hardcover, three Feldman projects were profiled in Loft Publications’ new 150 Best Balcony and Terrace Ideas; these include 2Bar, Open Box and the Pacific Heights Townhouse. We’re pleased to announce that the Butterfly House in Carmel will be featured on the Home Tours for the Monterey Design Conference held on September 27, 28 and 29th at Asilomar. Check out the bobcat that’s been visiting the clients at Butterfly on a regular basis and enjoying their beautiful concrete walls!
The eco+historical Victorian Update, in collaboration with developer Joshua Mogal of eco+historical, was awarded LEED Platinum this spring bringing the tally up to 4 Feldman homes certified under the LEED for Homes program. We recently finished photography at the Santa Cruz Haus, also a LEED Platinum home. Several more are in the pipeline and awaiting final certification.
Feldman continues to edit two blog sites and with GreenArchitectureNotes.com, we are launching a new series which features the reclaiming of unused urban space. Our first post profiles Chicago’s efforts to reuse the Bloomingdale Train Line for a new system of trails and the second edition looks at the Lowline in NYC’s Lower East Side. We are always looking for projects to feature so if you have something new, please submit to one of the staff members.
In house, we sadly said goodbye to Elaine Uang in June as she begins new ventures in architecture, planning and community building in Palo Alto. Thankfully, after one year in Los Angeles, Camille Cladouhos returned to San Francisco and to Feldman just as Elaine was saying goodbye. And in personal news, Hannah recently married her sweetheart, Patrick, at City Hall and they’re anxiously anticipating the arrival of Baby Brown-Lopes in September.