A Sukkah in the City...

This past weekend, a team of volunteers from the Congregation Emanu-El gathered to realize Jonathan’s sukkah design in the temple’s courtyard.  Constructed for the Jewish festival of Sukkot, a sukkah is a temporary hut intended to replicate the wilderness dwellings built by the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt to the Holy Land.  Traditionally, a sukkah has three sides, branches for a roof, and serves as a space for eating, gathering, and sometimes sleeping during the holiday.  Always, the roof should be thin enough that one can see the stars from within the dwelling.

Like traditionally simple sukkahs, Jonathan’s design celebrates the harvest with modesty.  Twelve burlap panels are suspended in the temple’s courtyard, rising in height as they slope up around the fountain at the space’s center and towards the doors of the temple itself.  Each constructed of four slender wooden beams creating a rectangular frame for the burlap, the panels billow and bend gracefully in the wind and leave bold, geometric shadows on the bricks below.

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“We challenged a group of architects to design a sukkah using creative form and the whole courtyard,” Rabbi Jonathan Singer explained to me on Saturday, emphasizing his desire to expand upon the temple’s previous smaller, wooden structures and create a site open to the entire community.  Even during its construction that afternoon, the suspended panel design proved inclusive; with direction from Jonathan and the other architects present, families stapled the burlap screens’ sides to the wooden beams and knelt to tuck uneven edges beneath the frame.  A congregation member and his son had stopped to help on their way to a soccer game, another woman had dedicated her entire afternoon to the project, and a mother ran to pick up another staple gun with her son in tow.  Rabbi Singer himself pulled a pair of scissors from his pocket to help the volunteers, saying “In the season of our joy, we remember with humility not to compartmentalize ourselves from nature.”

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The sukkah will remain in place for the duration of the holiday, which ends on Sunday, October 4th.  For more creative sukkah designs, check out this gallery of entrants in 2010’s Sukkah City competition, which selected 12 designs to be constructed and displayed in New York City’s Union Square Park: http://www.sukkahcity.com/

– Abigail

Update: The sukkah continues to welcome the community with great success throughout the holiday.  Sunday evening, a crowd of people enjoyed fulfilling the mitzvah of eating in the sukkah, and the courtyard has since hosted preschool breakfasts, staff lunches, the congregation’s Youth Education family day, and Wednesday night’s Women’s Group gathering.

The Feldman Architecture Focus Mix...

As you may have noticed if you venture to our office, many of us enjoy listening to music while we work. Some people like the background noise, some of us like how different music can break up the day, and others use headphones as a “Do Not Disturb” sign. We thought it would be interesting to share what we’re all tuned into from time to time. This edition is for those times when we really need to hunker down and get stuff done. Choices ran the gamut from classical to pop to post-rock and beyond. So here it is, The Feldman Architecture Focus Mix:


Tracklist:
Loud Pipes – Ratatat (Bridgett)
Angel – Massive Attack (Hannah)
Division – Moby (Caroline)
La Femme d’Argent – Air (Jonathan)
The Richest Man in Babylon – Thievery Corporation (Hannah)
Golden Arrow – Darkside (Nick)
Brill Bruisers – The New Pornographers (Daniel)
All Things Must Pass – George Harrison (Aaron)
Red Eyes – The War on Drugs (Daniel)
Everything In Its Right Place/Maiden Voyage – Robert Glasper (Tai)
Attaboy – Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile (Humbeen)
The Well-Tempered Clavier (Prelude and Fugue in E-Flat Major), performed by Glenn Gould – J.S. Bach (Kevin)

Some folks couldn’t narrow it down to one song, so here are a few Pandora stations and albums people often have playing:
Cat Power (Caroline)
M. Ward (Caroline)
Arcade Fire (Caroline)
Bach (Lindsey)
Lana del Rey (Lindsey)
Franki Valli (Steven)
John Legend (Steven)
Eminem (Steven)
Rihanna (Steven)
Floating Coffin – Thee Oh Sees (Jess)
23 – Blonde Redhead (Jess)
Check Your Head – Beastie Boys (Chris)
Restorations – Restorations (Ben)

Feldman Architecture Hosts BAYA Meeting...

On Thursday, June 13th Feldman Architecture hosted Bay Area Young Architects (BAYA) for their monthly Firm Presentation and Tour.  With beverages and snacks in hand, 30-40 people gathered to get the inside scoop of the firm’s ethos, work, and design process through 5 completed and ongoing projects.  As Jonathan moderated the discussion, attendees were lead through the stories of context and particular conditions of each project by their respective project managers.

Thank you BAYA for a wonderful evening of good conversation and architecture.

-Kevin

Jonathan welcoming everybody to the office.

Kevin discussing the Vineyard Cabin.

Tai talking about the Telegraph Hill Remodel.

Bridgett describing the Salamander House.

The BAYA June Meeting

Sources of Inspiration...

This fall I’ve had a few opportunities to travel outside of the Bay. There’s nothing like getting out of the daily routine to rediscover inspiration all around you in big ways and in more subtle moments.  But there’s also something great about coming home with fresh eyes and noticing all over again the inspiration right outside of your own back door.High-LineA sunny Sunday afternoon brings locals and tourists alike to activate New York City’s High Line.
meridaColonial Mérida Cathedral, circa 1598. A collage of traditional “seconds” tiles in a courtyard house, Yucatán, Mexico.

Cali_Ansel   Then, in a sidewalk of Baltimore’s Butcher’s hill I’m reminded of home by someone’s tiny tribute to California.  It’s true, we have a wealth of inspiration right here in California, from the peaks memorialized in Ansel Adams’ photography to the view from my deck:  above, the craggy tops of the Ritters Range, Ansel Adams wilderness, and below a view of downtown Oakland across Lake Merritt.
Oakland
It’s good to be home. -Bridgett

Mid-Century Modern...

I recently spent a long weekend in Palm Springs that included an architecture tour guided by Michael Stern, the author of Julius Shulman: Palm Springs. The tour was a great way to experience homes by Richard Neutra, John Lautner, Donald Wexler, Albert Frey and other well-known mid-century architects. These homes represent many of the same principles that guide residential architecture today including a strong visual connection to the outdoors, simplicity of form, honesty of materials and responsiveness to place.

Resources:

Parker Hotel …. http://www.theparkerpalmsprings.com/index.php

Michael Stern …. http://themoderntour.com/

Living room fire pit, William Cody

Pre-fabricated kitchen in site built home, Donald Wexler

Kaufman House, Richard Neutra

-Brett

Breathing Life into City Streets...

What could be more green, (and more fun) than a lively city street that makes walking and biking more enjoyable than driving?

Throughout San Francisco, locals and visitors are enjoying a new urban intervention: the parking-space-sized public lounge spaces or ‘parklet’.  The program is part of San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks program that was launched in 2009 and it’s been a huge success.

On Valencia between 14th and 15th outside Four Barrel, a parklet with bike storage by Boor Bridges Architecture.
Click here to check out a map of all parklets in SF.

City residents began looking for ways to reclaim pavement as car-free public space and in 2005, thanks to the designers at Rebar, the movement got its first moment of success with Park(ing) Day.  Since then the movement has spread beyond San Francisco to cities across the globe.  (Did you know that Park(ing) Day is now an international event with over 150 cities participating? Nice job San Francisco!)

Another conceptual project for the Bay Area proposes repurposing the 2.2 miles of highway of the East Span Bay Bridge in anticipation of the opening of the new bridge in 2013.  Fletcher Studio proposes the radical retrofit of the bridge to harvest water, wind and sun to cool a data server farm on the lower deck and to water and grow a medicinal marijuana farm on the upper deck.  The two high grossing, non-public uses would generate enough income to pay off the retrofit expense within one year and then continue to generate income for public use throughout the Bay Area.

From miles long to the size of a bench; both temporary and permanent, other cities are finding their own way to reclaim their streets.  Here are a few of our favorites:

The Highline Project, New York, New York by Diller Scofidio + Renfro with James Corner’s Field Operations allows pedestrians to walk 1.45 miles without stopping for a single car.

Crater Lake by 24° Studio in Kobe, Japan was developed to integrate leisure and play space into the cityscape.

The ‘Minhocão’ (giant worm) highway in Sao Paulo is closed to traffic on Sundays, becoming a pedestrian-only recreational space. – Bridgett

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