Summer 2014 Newsletter...

World Cup fever is upon us – so we hope you are enjoying the ‘kick-off’ of summer as many of us are with the occasional office break to view the action and root on our favorite teams. Speaking of action – the firm had plenty of activity, exposure, and several new faces join us this past spring.

In April, the Butterfly House in the Santa Lucia Preserve was featured on the cover of Dwell Magazine. We are thankful for the beautiful coverage of the project with a wonderful story by Emily Thelin and fantastic photos by Joe Fletcher. To celebrate, the Feldman team hosted a party at the Barrel House in San Francisco, an amazing former speakeasy, with dinner and drinks by Dosa and music by Cure for Gravity.

We are excited to announce LEED Gold status has been achieved for the Salamander House in the LEED for Homes program. Congratulations to our Salamander clients and design team for embarking on this challenging but rewarding path to certification! Feldman Architecture has now managed its 5th LEED certification, 4 Platinum and 1 Gold, with several more homes currently in the USGBC’s system.

Upcoming this fall, as a part of the AIA San Francisco’s Architecture in the City festival in September, the Fitty Wun House will be featured on the AIA Home Tours as one of several homes opened to architecture aficionados to tour on the weekend of September 20-21st. This yearly event can sell out so don’t miss this opportunity for a fun-filled day of architectural adventure. Please visit the AIA website at www.aiasf.org/hometours for tickets.

Finally, we are excited to welcome 3 new staff members to the firm. Ben Welty, originally from South Carolina, brings several years of high-end residential experience and Jessica Gill, a recent graduate from RISD and Reed College hailing from across the Bay in Berkeley, are already busy working on a variety of new commissions. Bianca Mills joined as our new Office Manager and with several years of experience in architecture and related creative fields is a wonderful addition to our team. This summer, we are also hosting Pavan Vadgama from UC Berkeley who is completing a summer course on Professional Practice which includes working in our office. We also note that his FIFA bracket is perfect to date; he has picked all of the winners so far! To celebrate the new members of the firm, Brett Moyer hosted a party at his lovely remodeled Eichler home in Marin where everyone enjoyed the sun, drinks and delicious food while getting to know our new colleagues.

We look forward to working with many of you throughout 2014. Enjoy your summer!

Curitiba – City of Sustainability...

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.
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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.
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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.

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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

London Design Festival Installations...

logoIn 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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

el zeinZein 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.

 

-Lindsey

Weekends...

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.

Feldman Field Trips...

“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.

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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.”

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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.

Biking In Bishop...

There are often many reasons to embrace the chance of a long weekend. This spring after a yearlong effort, and a dozen design iterations, I happily packed up the truck and headed to the Eastern Sierras to enjoy one of the last waning weekends of spring. With me I packed my newly created 15.25 lbs of custom carbon awesomeness; each screw, painted line, and individual piece of technology researched, scrutinized and ultimately selected/designed by me. IMG_0137

Much like building a home, the process of building a bike like this is collaborative effort, with each person adding his or her expertise, technology and refinement. For this bike I enlisted the efforts of two separate frame-building companies, a paint shop, a mechanic, and over 10 individual component manufacturers.

My destination, Bishop, CA, lies in the Owens River Valley halfway between Mammoth Mountain and Mt. Whitney. Bounded to the west by the dramatic Eastern Sierras and to the east by the White Mountains (boundary between California & Nevada), this beautiful area of high desert has only a few offerings in the way of flat roads. Head off in any direction and you are quickly greeted by miles of climbing. Hopefully you have plenty of time to take in the traffic free roads and the scenery.

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On one of my riding days, I headed north from Bishop for 30 miles and after 4000 feet of climbing was stopped by the snow line. I stretched my neck and shoulders, tucked in behind the handlebars, and enjoyed my well earned 20+ mile mountain descent back towards town, a mix of moderate to steep pitches, with open and technical curves. White-knuckle speeds in excess of 50 mph were moderated only by my mind looking down at 23 mm tires and my not so protective lycra suit. Balanced, predictable and well equipped, the bike was only limited by my nerves and ever-fatiguing arms.

Wow… looking forward to summer!

-Chris

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