On the heels of our joint success at the 2015 LEAP Sandcastle Contest, where we joined forces with ZFA, PCH, and the students of Jefferson Elementary to build a Jabba the Hutt sand monstrosity, Stefan Thuilot visited our office to share some insight and images of some more elegant projects. Many of the projects Stefan shared were carefully crafted garden designs for private residences, and their understated aesthetics seemed both carefully planned and natural, engaging with the original site instead of supplanting it. Using fire and water as dynamic design components, Steven weaves disparate elements of each garden puzzle into a coherent whole to heighten the sensory experience it offers.
Stefan’s exploration of indoor-outdoor living spaces requires extensive collaboration with architects like FA itself, and it was interesting to take a peek at the opposite side of that back and forth.
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.
“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.”
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/
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.
Early morning van ride to the Livermore Start.
Our friends at Murray Engineers, Renaissance Stone Care & Waterproofing, Von Clemm Construction & VIA hosted an event that invited approximately 50 local tradespeople/bicycling enthusiasts to ride Stage 3 of the Tour of California before the pros hit the course. About 50 participants were shuttled from the Los Altos for a 7am start in Livermore. The ride was fully supported with rest stops, lunch on top of Mt. Hamilton and VIP access at the Finish Line of the stage. Finishing a couple hours ahead of the pros gave everyone time to change clothes, enjoy food and drink, relax, watch the remainder of the race on TVs, cheer on the Pros at the finish line and the enjoy the festival. I enjoyed a well-earned post ride meal of (9) tacos, multiple desserts, (3) cokes, and 2 quarts of water. Here are some photos from the day.
– Chris K.
Invited attendees (Architects, Engineers, Builders, Contractors)
View from the backside of Mt. Hamilton looking back towards Livermore.
Andy Murray being interviewed by Frankie Andreu.
Chris and Andy at the finish line after completing 77miles and 8000ft of climbing.
Earlier this summer, I had the chance to visit Japan and traveled to many Zen Buddhist temples in Kyoto. Kyoto is located in an inland river valley and is surrounded on all sides by mountain ranges. Many of the temples I visited are situated on the outskirts of the city at the base of the mountains where the city ends and the forest begins making for an incredible contrast between urban and rural space. In a way, these temples are a transitory space with one foot in nature and the other in setting is perhaps best described in the Japanese concept of ma, which can mean blankness or distance. Ma is a transitory experiential concept; for example, it is the silence between sounds which gives shape to music.
The focal point of many of these temples is a garden with a large open space and meandering paths. The temples themselves surround these open spaces, which can consist of ponds or dry landscape gardens, or karesansui , and are highly manicured. While these gardens are essentially courtyard spaces, they are never seen in isolation from nature. Often, a view from the engawa, or veranda, of a temple will extend from the garden to the mountains or city beyond which demonstrates the concept of shakkei or borrowed scenery. The karesansui are so detailed that attention is paid to the scale and coloration of the millions of tiny white rocks and sculpted moss that resonate when seen against the fine backdrop of the trees or buildings beyond.
These gardens cultivate an appreciation of ma and therefore an awareness of one’s own consciousness. Like viewing a painting, they are meant to be viewed from afar and are physically inaccessible. Walking through the temple grounds, the emptiness of the gardens heightens one’s awareness of the physicality of the structures themselves and the details of construction in the same way the color blue when placed against the color red highlights the redness of red and vice versa. In this way, the ma of these gardens makes nature more natural and the cities more concrete.
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!
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!