For last month’s installment of our monthly Third Thursday speaker series, we invited architecture and design photographer Adam Rouse to share his work with our studio virtually. Having worked for Aidlin Darling Design for the past 15 years while developing a parallel photography practice in the last 7 of those, Adam’s unique perspective as both a photographer and practicing architect influences and drives his work. Recently, he shifted primary focus to his photography practice, and continues to expand his work shooting design focused projects within the Bay Area as well as up and down the West Coast. We’ve been lucky to have him shoot a number of our projects, including Sunrise, Slot House, the Atherton Pavilions, and Round House.
His talk began by introducing an idea that interests him – atmospheric density – or the certain indescribable gravitas that moves an observer when experiencing both a space, as well as a poignant photograph of said space. Heavily inspired by Zumthor’s work and theory around the experience of space, Adam spoke about the idea that architectural photography is powerful in its ability to translate the innate feeling of a building, enabling architects to share their work with larger audiences. Most people will not experience an architect’s work firsthand, but hopefully they can experience the magic of a structure through a thoughtful image.
We love Adam’s architectural prowess for shooting our work, specifically his attention to detail. Adam walked us through his impressive portfolio, pointing out small details in a few of his photos, like the First Christian Church he explored and photographed in graduate schoo l, in which every flat head screw was oriented vertically – God is in the details. “I always want to capture these types of moments and speak with the architect. The details tell the story – the tight detail photograph is just as important as the establishing shot.”
It was especially interesting hearing Adam discuss shooting Sunrise, which was the first project he photographed twice, once in misty February and once in sunny, hot August. Contrasting light and day lengths made each shoot a very unique experience. His intimate detail images very articulately characterize the materiality of the project, which successfully all tie into the broader project goals. Now, we’re even more excited to continue our working relationship with Adam– see more of his work here.
Immersed – The California Houses of Feldman Architecture is an in-depth look at 20 years of the firm’s defining residential work spanning three areas: Urban, Suburban, and Rural. Feldman Architecture, a vibrant San Francisco-based studio, aims to create authentic, site-sensitive, sustainable spaces through a deeply collaborative process. This book, which includes commentary from Aaron Betsky and Daniel P. Gregory, as well as an interview with Vladimir Belogovsky, situates Feldman Architecture’s work within the northern California design canon and illustrates how the firm’s voice subtly translates across diverse geographies and contexts. Jonathan Feldman, in closing, reflects upon the values and aspirations that unify the firm’s work and inform its vision for the future.
We are proud to announce that our first monograph is slated for publication fall of 2021! We are looking forward to sharing more about the project, and continuously delighted by the genius of Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers. Revisit this page as we develop more layouts, update ordering information, and plan book signings and events!
Preorder the book here.
Summer’s greetings from the Feldman Architecture team. We are so excited to share some updates with you – especially our very own Surf House featured in this month’s issue of Architectural Digest! We are wishing you a safe, healthy, and relaxing summer. Please find our entire summer newsletter here, and a few updates below.
“But beyond any piece of art or pedigreed object, the true spirit of the house resides in the Monterey cypress that lines its walls, doors, and cabinetry. ‘It feels like we’re living inside a fine piece of furniture, crafted by artisans at the top of their field. I love to lie on the couch and just let my eye trace all the details,’ the husband raves. His wife has the final word: ‘We don’t think about the house as a place. It’s an experience. It’s peace. It feeds our souls.'”
We are elated that Surf House is featured in the July/August 2020 issue of Architectural Digest! We are so proud to share this spread with our collaborators Commune, Ground Studio, Arborica, Tucci Lighting, among many others – and very thankful for the thoughtful words from Mayer Rus and stunning images from Stephen Kent Johnson. Read the piece online here, in print here, enjoy the project on our website, look for the issue on newsstands, and find one of our favorite quotes from the homeowners above.
This quarter, we’ve been doing a lot of reflecting, discussing, and planning. Below, find a statement and a series of commitments from our team inspired by recent activism fighting for racial justice. We want to share these truths and commitments with our community to start our path towards reconciliation.
Feldman Architecture stands in vigorous opposition to racism in all its forms and is committing to actionable steps towards addressing structural, societal, and implicit biases, starting with those baked into the architecture and design industries. As a firm that names both sustainability and transparency as core values, we must acknowledge the lack of both in our industry at large when it comes to racial justice.
First and foremost, we must acknowledge the truth – our country and our industry specifically are structured to uphold systems of racism. With our studio’s focus on residential design serving very wealthy clients, we also must acknowledge our privilege and complicity within this system. With only 2% of all architects currently registered in the United States being Black, we must commit to actively working to increase accessibility and to offering support and reconciliation to Black architects, students, and members of our community.
Within our firm, we have formed an antiracism focus group, which has been brainstorming actionable items we can take collectively to address areas identified as needing improvement. We aim to assemble meaningful commitments with care and integrity, and to consistently and continually hold ourselves accountable and improve upon said commitments.
Feldman Architecture will firstly address racism internally at our firm, exploring tangible ways in which implicit bias affects our lives and the lives of those around us, specifically focusing on strategies to hold ourselves accountable and strive towards antiracism. These discussions will work to empower staff to start the journey of self-reflection and support and uplift Black community members, designers, and loved ones.
In order to address the lack of Black professionals in our industry, we will work to expand our recruiting and educational outreach. We commit to making our internship program more robust – Feldman Architecture will work with organizations like NOMA to offer internships to aspiring BIPOC architects, performing outreach and building relationships with high school and college students in our community.
We believe that specifically exposing marginalized and disenfranchised students at a younger age to architectural and design opportunities can begin to address and break down the systemic barriers that have historically kept the industry homogeneous. We must take intentional action to break this cycle and work with organizations performing educational outreach in Black communities and form pathways and relationships to do so.
We will scrutinize our hiring process. Currently, Feldman Architect has zero Black employees. We aim to change that to reflect the demographics of our broader community, and therefore will commit to actively recruiting Black architects and encouraging others in our industry to do the same. We will establish relationships with HBCUs and expand and diversify our hiring process via organizational partnerships, job boards, and community outreach.
We will prioritize pro bono efforts which provide design services and consultations to organizations and nonprofits that are working towards racial justice and/or that specifically benefit Black communities. Our entire pro bono effort will be focused more closely and intentionally on serving underrepresented and minority communities.
We will aim to increase the diversity of our collaborator and consultant pool, specifically seeking out Black owned and led companies to work with and promote.
We will invite conversation and discussion. Please feel free to engage us with suggestions, ideas, or criticisms. We are dedicated to making this work a permanent part of our firm’s processes and will have blog posts updating our community on our progress as we work towards making our commitments as concrete and specific as possible within the next six months.
We are committed and open. There is much work to do and much for us to learn. Black lives matter, and always will.
Our sustainability committee is off to a productive and eventful 2020! Last week, FA Associate Ben Welty attended the Carbon Positive ’20 conference in LA, organized by Architect Magazine and Architecture 2030, meeting with some of the top studios and professionals in the nation to discuss reducing and offsetting carbon in the design world. Below, find some nuggets of wisdom from Ben – who made sure to keep us updated back in San Francisco on lessons learned.
- The original goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 is too late. If we don’t zero out our carbon emissions by 2040 and avoid a 1.5C increase in average global temperatures, we will experience a climate change that is irreversible.
- Everybody here knows we can accomplish our goals. And we’re intent to go back to our communities with this shared knowledge and make a difference. Fortunately, the design and construction industry still has the power to affect change. We drive policy decisions, advancements in technology, and public awareness.
- The production of Cement (the binding agent in concrete) accounts for 8% of total global emissions. Steel production accounts for 7%. China has poured more concrete in the last four years than the U.S. did in the 20th century. Alternative production methods will be key to us reaching our goals.
- While we’re trying to eliminate fossil fuel use in the building industry-we’re still using fossil fuel-based products (rigid insulation) to reduce our reliance on coal and natural gas. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is essentially the same material we legislated out of the food packaging industry 30 years ago.
- Hemp seems poised to play a big part in reducing our CO2 emissions moving forward as states continue to loosen hemp regulations.
- Women accounted for roughly 40% of newly licensed architects in 2019. 50% of this conference’s speakers are women, and by my estimation at least 50% of the attendees are women. So while still
underrepresented in the field their contributions in battling the global climate crisis outweighs their male counterparts.
On another note, it’s been 3 years since Feldman Architecture first committed to the 2030Challenge– joining more than 1,000 firms across the nation in a pledge to create only carbon-neutral buildings by 2030. This January, our firm was the first to report our annual progress on carbon neutrality to the AIA 2030 Commitment Design Data Exchange (DDx), enabling others to learn from our work. We hope that in sharing our processes and challenges, we can encourage transparency and prioritize leadership in reducing our carbon footprint. Stay tuned for our annual detailed report on our 2030 Action Plan, to be published soon!
Q: Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Irvine, California where I spent pretty much all of my time outdoors. During the summer time it was the neighborhood swim team and bike tag and during the winter time it was soccer and baseball team. I loved playing sports- and the year round sun allowed me to play as many as possible – and it’s probably the thing I miss most about home. When I got to high school, I decided to focus on soccer competitively, but I picked up surfing – I couldn’t stay out of the water completely. For 4 years, my neighbors and I spent the weekends at surf camps, and the weeknights at the neighborhood watering hole (boba joint). The only other home I had growing up was the farmhouse my mom and her siblings grew up in. Every summer for a couple of weeks we visited the family vineyard making homemade lasagna and picking grapes, my favorite family tradition.
Q: Where did you go to school?
I moved up to the Bay Area when I started at Berkeley. I studied Economics, focused on Environmental Policy and Renewable Energy. I’ve always been super passionate about the environment and loved math- so the program ended up being the perfect fit.
Q: What was your favorite class in college?
I took a lot of amazing classes that taught me about Environmental and Energy Economics, but I was really excited to have room to take Italian as an elective. My extended family is Italian, and I’ve always wanted to become fluent in another language.
Q: Tell me about your family.
Some of my favorite family memories are the countless road trips we took while growing up. Every year we went skiing at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort. My two sisters and I got very close on these long car rides. My mom used to take us on RV trips through America’s national parks, I love how adventurous my family is when it comes to exploring new places. I was lucky enough to follow my older sister, Giortia, to Berkeley and we spent 2 years there together before she graduated and moved to San Francisco, where she now works at Lyft. My younger sister, Helena, started her second year at CalPoly Slo where she’s studying Mechanical Engineering.
Q: What is the most interesting aspect of architecture to you?
My favorite aspect of architecture is how quickly and easily it takes you to a different time period. No matter where I go, the thing that influences my experience the most is the architecture of my surroundings. I can picture what society was like at the time when a building was designed, a time when people looked up at it and considered it contemporary. Working at a modern architecture firm makes me so much more aware of architecture’s evolving nature and my interest in design.
Q: How long have you worked at FA?
I just passed the 2 month mark!
Q: What makes our office unique?
I think our office is unique in that everyone is so different. Our workforce has a noticeable diversity of background and thought, yet at the same time everyone clicks to form a larger identity that is Feldman Architecture.
Q: What’s your favorite part about coming to work?
My favorite part about coming to work is being around so many motivated people. Everyone at Feldman is here because they love what they are doing and understand that it’s important. This group mentality is a really great environment to be in every day and is what keeps our office culture fresh.
Q: What is the last show you binge watched?
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – one of my new favorites!
Q: Do you have any fun plans coming up?
Saving up to do some traveling! I haven’t been, but I know my next destination is South America.