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Vectorworks User Group: Site Improvements

A Vectorworks User Group

Tuesday, May 12, 2014
Free and open to all.
1.5 CES LUs

At this meeting we will focus on improving sites for building and landscape projects in a 3D environment, starting with creation of a basic site model from GIS data, then modifying it to suit existing detailed conditions and proposed site development: including creating roadways, retaining walls, building pads, hardscape elements, trees and other features.  As usual, we will also host a forum for topics of general interest and field questions and offer solutions as best we can.

About the Presenters

Peter Thayer, OAG Architects, Inc. Peter has been using Vectorworks/MiniCAD software for over 15 years, providing residential architectural services with his firm in Benicia.

Paul Majka, Paul Majka Architect, IncPaul is a seasoned professional in Architecture with over ten years of experience using Vectorworks, and is currently running an architectural practice in San Francisco.

Learning Objectives

1. Learn to create a basic digital 3D site model from various sources.
2. Learn about the tools available in Vectorworks software for modeling site conditions.
3. Learn about various resources and techniques for modeling and placing improvements on the site.
4. Discover how Renderworks software can aid in the 3D presentation of designs.

Tile Installer Qualifications Language in Architectural Specifications

A Tile and Stone Council of Northern California Presentation/Co-Sponsored by AIA East Bay

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
5:30-8:30pm, includes networking reception
Free; however registration is required.
Please Click Here to Register

Event Contact: Joani Woelfel, Allied Member


In recent years, architects have been tightening up their specification language to require a higher level of qualifications of the tile contractor, reflecting their concern to avoid failures and achieve the best possible performance. This seminar will walk participants through the evolution of training, certification, and credentialing programs for tile installers over the past 15 years, leading up to the options available today.

It will discuss the recommended language in the TCNA Handbook, manufacturers’ literature, MasterSpec, and other recognized industry programs. Participants will learn why these requirements are important, how to meet them, how to enforce them, and how their widespread adoption will lead to a consistently higher quality of installations and a more level playing field among qualified contractors.

Guests will receive a complimentary copy of the 2015 TCNA Handbook.


  • 5:30–6 p.m. Registration, Sponsor Q&As
  • 6–6:30 p.m. Cocktails, food & beverages
  • 6:30–8 p.m. Program Begins

About the Presenter

scottScott Conwell, FAIA, International Masonry InstituteScott is the Director of Industry Development and Technical Service for the Illinois office of the International Masonry Institute (IMI). During his 20 years with IMI, Scott has developed and presented a variety of masonry seminars to architects, designers, and contractors all over the United States, from large industry conferences to small in-house seminars. He has authored technical articles published in The Construction Specifier, Structure Magazine, Licensed Architect, Masonry Construction Magazine, the Proceedings of the North American Masonry Conference, and others. Scott currently leads IMI’s team on the Masonry Detailing Series project, an online collection of masonry details and technical information.

Learning Objectives

1. Participants will become aware of the spectrum of contractor qualifications available to tile contractors, and how the contractor qualifications are directly related to the successful performance of a tile installation.
2. Participants will learn how to avoid likely failures in tile installations in the areas of large format tile, shower receptors, membranes, and mud work, by writing language into the architectural specifications that address these areas.
3. Participants will learn where to find the most up-to-date recommendations on tile installer qualifications as published in the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook, International Masonry Institute, and Arcom MasterSpec.
4. Participants will see case studies and examples of advanced certifications for tile installers from a certified evaluator, and learn how these certifications contribute to the successful performance of tile.


Members in the News

Berkeley Library Design Recognized

The West Berkeley Library project by Harley Ellis Devereaux has been reviewed by the Berkeley Design Advocates jury and selected to be rec- ognized at its biennial Design Awards ceremony.

berkeley library

Gensler San Ramon has relocated to Oakland, (SPUR has too)

Doug Wittnebel, AIA, Gensler Oakland’s Design Director (@left) welcoming Robert Ogilvie, executive director of SPUR Oakland to the city. Gensler has recently relocated their San Ramon office to the Pandora Building in downtown Oakland.

doug wittenbel

Luo is Principal @ Sha Kawasaki

Philip Luo, AIA Architects has been named Principal at Shah Kawasaki.  luo





Medrano Signs up with Hunt Hale Jones

Tammy Medrano, Assoc. AIA has accepted a position of Studio Associate with Hunt Hale Jones.


Shah Moves from S.F. to Oakland

Manan Shah, AIA has moved from Gensler’s San Francisco headquarters to take on a senior associate posi- tion in the Oakland office.

meeting 1         meeting 4

meeting 2     meeting 3



Allied Member Profile: Adam Haedt

adam haedt By Adam Haedt

Neolith is the largest, high-tech, Sintered compact slab available. Neolith provides the most efficient solutions for any architectural or design project, making it the new product choice for interior, exterior and home applications. Neolith’s extensive range of earthly, neutral, industrial, metallic, matte colours, make it a designer product that can be optimally used for virtually any job.

Neolith is defining the way forward in the construction industry with state-of-the-art products that combine functionality and beauty. Neolith surpasses every required standard (ISO) in every one of its characteristics with the use of technology advanced operating systems. Precision technology ensures optimum efficiency levels in terms energy consumptions optimization, use of raw materials, and the quality and finish of the end product. Neolith is environmentally friendly and committed to responsible, sustainable businesses practiced.

Adam Haedt is General Manager of Fox Marble’s FM Distributing’s Neolith Division. With nearly 15 years in the surface industry. He has developed products in most surfacing categorize across the United States developing prod- ucts for Caesarstone, Cosentino Group and Avonite. Neolith is the next big thing in surfacing and he could not be more excited to launch this product in San Francisco with Fox Marbles FM Distributing, now the largest distrib- utor in North America of Neolith, Sintered Compact Surface. ■

adam haedt-FM

Firm Profile: MCA Architecture

Sephen R. Cuddy, AIA, LEED AP is a Napa Valley Architect who lives and works in Napa County. Mr. Cuddy’s roots run deep in the com- munity, participating in civic projects like the Downtown Reach for the Napa Flood Control Project to his role as a steering committee mem- ber for the Napa County General Plan Update to his professional advisory role on the local Green Building (aka High Performance Building) Task Force. Mr. Cuddy serves on the Board of Directors for Napa County Landmarks, Inc. and just recently served for 3+ years as the President of the Board and remains on it’s executive com- mittee as a past president. Mr. Cuddy also assist the Napa Valley Community   Foundation   and other local non-profit organizations. Mr. Cuddy participated and provided input for key planning objectives such as the City of Napa Residential Design Guidelines, the Downtown Specific Plan and the Gasser Master Plan. His firm originally opened in Sacramento in 1982 and located to Napa County in 1998; Mr. Cuddy has provided architectural   services to his clients in Napa County since 1988.

After the recent Napa Earthquake in August, Mr. Cuddy volunteered his services for the week fol- lowing the event assessing and inspecting local historic properties that sustained damage. And provided follow up services to assist with documentation, encroachment permits for temporary shoring & bracing, coordination with local building officials and FEMA. In addition, Mr. Cuddy has assisted Napa County and City homeowners with assessments and guidance after the earth- quake. Through an RFQ process the City of Napa selected Mr. Cuddy to assist with earthquake related repairs for the historic Goodman Library, the Firefighters Museum, the Senior Center and the City’s Corporation Yard. And over the past two years has been assisting the Napa County Librarian with the renovation & fit up of the historic Calistoga Library.

Napa River Inn Napa River Inn

Napa Square Napa Square

Napa Something Napa Corporate Park

In the Napa Valley, Mr. Cuddy’s project involvement has ranged from downtown commercial & multi- family housing to up valley wineries & historic preservation projects. Some recognizable projects in the Napa Valley include Historic Napa Mill, the Napa River Inn, Sweetie Pie’s Bakery, Silos Night Club, Napa General Store, Angele’s and Celadon Restaurants; Napa Square a three story over underground parking commercial mixed use development with restaurants – Oenotri & Norman Rose, wine sales & tasting – Pru Cru & Studio M, banks – USBank & Bay Commercial, financial services – Wells Fargo Investors & Charles Schwab and professional offices; Copia “the American Center for Wine Food and the Arts” – Project Management, facility fit up & Interior Improvements, outdoor kitchen & greenhouse; Rubicon Winery (Historic Inglenook Winery) for Francis Ford Coppola – production facility and barrel building; Palmaz Family Winery – cave facility that includes production, storage & tasting; LaFitte Cork & Capsule- cork production and distribution facility; Allegria Ristorante in the Historic First National Bank build- ing and more.


Members Profile: David Schell, AIA

David Schell, AIA




By David Schell, AIA

Returning to the Bay Area after twelve years living in Orlando, Florida working for Helman Hurley Charvat Peacock /Architects (HHCP Architects), I have been involved in architecture for the healthcare industry for 14 years now. My primary role as a Senior Project Manager had me involved in planning, design and production and construction administration on 5 new green field hospitals throughout the Eastern United States during the past decade. In addition to new facilities, I have been involved in multiple additions and renovations of patient bed wings, surgery and pre – post operative suites, as well as emergency departments, radiology and out-patient clinic settings and psychiatric facilities. Several bed/classroom additions for psychiatric hospitals were built using LEAN delivery processes. Fully integrating the design and construction team was a very positive experience pointing me in a new direction for the future of project delivery.

Prior to this, during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons in the South East, I worked with emergency response teams to repair several hospital facilities damaged by Hurricanes Charley, Ivan and Katrina. I arrived in the Bay Area after graduating from of Syracuse University School of Architecture in 1982, and accepted a position with Werner & Sullivan Architects in San Francisco.

During the next twenty years I worked in the offices of Hornberger + Worstell Architects, Whistler Patri Architects, Gensler Associates, and Brandenburger Taylor Lombardo, where I worked on my first healthcare project, an outpatient clinic for the Napa Valley Vintners Association in downtown Napa, CA. A member of the San Francisco Chapter of the AIA since 1982 (Associate Member), I obtained my license from the California Board in 1992 and my NCARB Certificate shortly after. I am also licensed in Florida.

In 1995 I met my life-long partner Joy. We enjoy traveling and have taken trips to Hawaii and England. We’ve hiked through-out the Sierra’s, and driven the Blue Ridge highway from beginning to end. She is a native of Florida, and while living there we have toured the towns and beaches of the Atlantic and the Gulf coasts, in search of great sea food and fun with relatives. We are also great fans of Formula 1, Lemans, and Indy car racing. We are both excited to return to the Bay Area. The growth in the Bay Area has been incredible so each day is a new opportunity to explore and discover what’s new and different. As first time residents of the East Bay there is a lot to explore!


Transforming Suburban Downtowns Through Innovative Street Design

A Regional Urban Design Committee Event

Thursday, 28 May, 2015
6-7:30pm, reception to follow
Location: Lafayette Community Hall, 3491 Mt. Diablo Boulevard, Lafayette, CA 94549
Free and Open to All.
1.5 CES LUs

There is a growing movement amongst suburban cities to make their downtowns pedestrian and bicycle-friendly with less emphasis on the automobile. The design of streets and circulation networks play a critical role in achieving these goals and can help bring a community together.

This symposium will examine how retrofitting streets and blocks for multimodal connectivity and complete streets can transform historically auto-oriented spaces into thriving people places.  The symposium will feature presentations by:

  • Bryan Jones of Alta Planning + Design on strategies for “complete networks” where pedestrian and bicycle connections are convenient and direct; and
  • Jim Daisa of Stantec will show how arterial roadways and other public streets can be adapted for pedestrian-oriented “downtown” environments.
  • Phil Erickson, AIA of Community Design + Architecture will offer a “toolkit” of devices for accommodating growth in pedestrian-friendly ways, such as mixed-mode “shared streets;”
  • Matt Taecker, AIA AICP of Taecker Planning & Design will moderate and present overarching principles for using street and other circulation improvements to promote emerging activity centers.

After brief presentations, the form will feature an open conversation to answer questions, examine obstacles, and explore opportunities associated with street and network retrofits.  Finally, a reception will follow the event.

About the Presenters

Matt Taecker, AIA AICP, Taecker Planning & DesignMatt chairs AIA East Bay’s “Regional and Urban Design Committee” and California Planning Roundtable’s “Overcoming Obstacles to Infill Development Committee.”  For three decades, Taecker has been a leader in promoting transit-oriented development and pedestrian-friendly places.  Taecker received the 2014 National American Planning Association’s “Best Practices Award” for Berkeley’s Downtown Area Plan  His services include: urban design, comprehensive planning, form-based codes, stakeholder engagement, and development entitlements.

Phil Erickson, AIA, Community Design + Architecture. Phil has been an urban designer for 30 years. Erickson’s practice includes the design of complete streets, with a special focus on shared streets, to increase civic life in mixed use places.  Erickson co-authored recent multimodal street design provisions being considered by ITE, the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

Bryan Jones, Alta Planning + Design. Bryan is a senior associate with Alta Planning + Design overseeing complete streets engineering and implementation. He has delivered numerous traffic calming, bicycle and pedestrian safety, road diet, trail, downtown and complete streets projects to help move and connect people and businesses so communities can thrive. He also worked within local governments for more than a decade and understands the unique challenges and opportunities to getting support for and implementing complete streets. Bryan is a Complete Streets Instructor for the National Complete Streets Coalition helping communities enhance policies and practices. He is appointed by Caltrans to serve on the state traffic control devices committee to represent bicyclists and pedestrian issues statewide.

Jim Daisa, StantecJim has over 25 years of experience in transportation planning and traffic engineering for communities that are undergoing change, infill development, intensification, or revitalization. He has built a national practice in the planning and design of multimodal thoroughfares and authoring design guidance for context sensitive, walkable, and complete streets. Mr. Daisa focuses on working with communities and the engineering profession at the local, state, federal and institutional levels to shift the paradigm from emphasizing automobile mobility to designing for all users. His credibility stems from advocating change through demonstrating that complete streets conform to fundamental engineering and safety principles.

Building Code Issues – Emergency Escape and Rescue Windows

Emergency Escape and Rescue Windows – Section 1029.1 of the CBC and Section R310 of the CRC (2013 Ed.)

Kerwin Lee, AIA, CASp

By Kerwin Lee, AIA, CASp

Kerwin says the concept and requirement for escape and rescue windows in residential occupancies have been in the code for a long time. The intent is to provide an additional level of safety for those who are sleeping and unaware of a potential fire hazard. Many things have changed since this requirement was included in the code. This would include the use of fire alarm systems, smoke detectors and the addition of sprinklers in all residential occupancies.

The requirements for escape and rescue windows are for both escape by the occupants, which may be questionable from the second and/or third stories and rescue by the fire service. The limitation of only the third story is based on manual ladder heights used by the fire service. There are ladders that reach higher, usually mounted on trucks, but access to every window by truck on the exterior of a building is not possible. The location of such windows (size and height) is based on allowing a fire service personnel, in full gear, to enact rescue from the outside.


This concept was great when residential buildings were limited to three stories. Now we have R occupan- cies reaching unlimited heights. High-rise buildings, building with occupied floors over 75 feet above the ground, have by nature a different set of safety standards, but what about the buildings that are four or more stories and less than 75 feet in height? The fourth through the sixth or seventh stories are left out of this level of safety provided to three stories and high-rise buildings.

All multi-family residential buildings are now required to have fire alarm systems, smoke detectors and sprinklers. This is pretty much the same for a single family dwelling, except for a fire alarm system. This increased level of safety has virtually removed the requirement for rescue and escape windows, except in California. Although the International Building Code has removed their requirements for all buildings that are sprinkler protected, the State continue to maintain

this requirement for certain types of residential buildings. The requirement remains for Types IB, IIB, IIIB and all Type V construction. The reason or reasons continue to baffle me. Are there more fires in these types of buildings in the State than anywhere else in the world?


So if your building falls under these construction categories requiring escape and rescue window, you will have to com- ply with the section for the minimum size and operational constraints. This may affect the design of the building from what you want. The problem building types are those with courtyards and podium buildings. The undefined element is if the fire department is going to require access to these windows from a courtyard or from the podium and what that means for providing fire departments access to these areas to access the escape and rescue windows.

Steve Winkel, FAIA CASp

By Steve Winkel, FAIA CASp

I agree with Kerwin’s comments and do not understand why the fire service per- sists on requiring these windows. One argument would be that to remove the requirement would reduce the ability of first responders to rescue occupants in buildings where the windows are required, thus reducing life safety code requirements. The other argu- ment I have heard often is that sprinklers are not 100% reliable and redundant safety features should not be removed when sprinklers are provided. This argument carries some weight for me in single-family res- idences where homeowners are unlikely to pay attention to long-term sprinkler system maintenance. Lack of maintenance could end up reducing sprinkler reliability in houses where sprinkler systems have been in place for longer periods.

Note also that in my experience, including personally for my own home in Berkeley, that many Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) are requiring emergency escape window size compliance for alterations, including replacement of windows done for energy or repair considerations. When I upgraded my 1914 house glazing to new metal-clad double-glazed wood windows I was required to replace a double-hung window where the individual window panes did not meet the size requirement with a casement window where the total window area met the size requirements. I put a horizontal muntin in the center of the vertical rectangle of glazing to make the new window look something like a double hung window, but the profile and operation of the new window are quite different from the old one.

As Kerwin notes, when doing a podium building with a courtyard on the top of the podium it is critical to confer early in the design process with the AHJ where the building will be located to determine if they measure rescue window heights from grade, or from atop the podium. You want to understand their requirements early on. You do not want a permit plan review comment about such windows on your completed CD drawings. ■



Cool Tech Stuff – USB


If you purchase a computer today you will most likely find it has at least one USB port of one version or another. What are the various kinds of USB ports, and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

What is USB? USB stands for Universal Serial Bus, and is an industry wide standard connection that can transfer data, connect peripherals, and provide power to external devices. USB has been around since the mid 1990’s and has been through several iterations (versions 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 & 3.1).

USB symbol

What Versions of USB are Used Today? USB 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 are all in common use today. The latest version, USB 3.1 (introduced in January 2013) is just starting to be used.

What are the Common USB Connector Types? There are six common types/sizes of connectors, Type A (standard, mini, & micro), and Type B (standard, mini, & micro).

Type A standard connectors are almost always used on the computer side, and sometimes   on the device side, while the smaller mini/micro A and Type B connectors are usually found  on the device side (such as with printers, scanners, cameras, etc.). There are also some proprietary non-standard USB connectors (for example those used with the iPhone or iPad).

                            Types of Ports

The latest new connector is the Type C. It is used with USB version 3.1, and has the advantages of small size, low cost, greater power transmission, and reversibility.   Apple’s latest MacBook uses the Type C cable for everything (including charging the machine, along with a charging unit).

Type C    Type C

Power Transmission: Versions 1.0 & 2.0 can transmit 500mA of power to a peripheral, while versions 3.0 & 3.1 transmit 900 mA. Version 3.1 with the Type C cable has even greater power transmission capabilities.


Maximum Length of a USB Cable: Versions 1.0 & 2.0 specify 5 meters (~ 16 feet) as the maximum length, while versions 3.0 & 3.1 are silent on the topic. Most experts say that you should limit your length to 3 meters (~10 feet). (Tip: You can extend this distance by inserting powered USB hubs at intervals of 5 meters or less).

Conclusion: USB 3.0 & 3.1 are huge improvements over previous versions, especially with the new Type C cable.   There are three other connection standards you should be aware of, Firewire, Lightning (Thunderbolt on the Mac) , and eSATA. By comparison Lightning operates at 10-20 Gbps, eSATA at 6 Gbps, and Firewire 3.2 Gbps. Firewire (mainly used by Apple) seems to be on the decline, however I suspect Lightning, and eSATA will still be used on high performance machines for some time. My guess is that USB-C will eventually become the dominant way we hard wire connect our machines.


Solar PPA/Solar Lease for Your Photovoltaic system – Think before you leap.

Judhajit Chakraborty By Judhajit Chakraborty, Assoc. AIA
Last month I was working on a project where we designed a renewable energy system for a client and upon the client’s request, we looked into various financing options of those renewable energy systems. This included state and local utility incentives, solar loans, and solar PV leases, which are also known as Power Purchase Agreements (PPA’s).

This article looks into various myths and misunderstandings regarding PPA’s. Though they claim to have zero down payments and cover all maintenance costs over the lease period, there are many hindrances and disadvantages of which consumers should be aware before embarking towards the PPA route.

1: With a solar lease, one might think of it as affordable solar energy with zero down payments.
However, upon calculating the payments on that zero down solar lease or PPA one will find the payments over the 20-year lease period (which is the general duration of a PPA lease) will triple the cost for a solar system when compared to purchasing a system.

2: Selling a home with a solar lease or PPA—the lease can be easily transferred to your home buyers.
However, It has been reported recently by homeowners and even real estate brokers that it has been more difficult to sell homes with a solar lease or PPA attached to it. It is a very complicated process which is being made even more complex by the agreement clauses and language. Be sure to consult with experts before signing the agreement.

Also, home buyers must qualify to assume lease with an excellent credit rating generally more than 700, otherwise in order to sell the home, the lease has to be paid off and/or disclose the solar lease obligation when selling the home.

Consider if a seller has 12 years of remaining lease payments on a 20-year lease on an outdated 8-year old solar system—what home buyer would want to be burdened with this when they could buy a brand new solar system for tens of thousands less? Of course, that would be a hard sell. And that would affect the home sale considerably. Many home buyers who thought of a PPA as a viable option to increase their home’s value during the recession are victims of this 20-year term.

3: A solar PPA lease is the only option for a zero-down payment solar installation plan.
Today there are many solar loans options available (5-20 yrs) which are “zero down.” For example, there is the FHA Title 1 Zero Down which is more convenient to get than a PPA agreement and one can keep the Federal Tax Incentive and all the advantages of applicable case rebates which cannot be attained with a PPA. Another example is the new PACE (Proper Assessed Clean Energy) programs that are cropping up all over the country that allow financing the PV system and its payback through property taxes.

What are the advantages of a PPA and which building types have the most advantage by going through the PPA lease? Certainly not residential. In my experience, I have found this type of leasing is ideal for:

1: State and Federal facilities which in most cases do not have the funding to outright buy and install a PV system but want to promote sustainability, renewable energy production in their facilities and without any headache for their maintenance as they are taken care of by the leasing company.

2: Commercial facilities for similar above-mentioned sustainability and maintenance reasons.

Solar PPA leases still dominates the PV market today, but their future looks bleak as both PV and its installation is becoming less expensive. PPA’s rose into prominence because maintenance was a hassle, but now that maintenance is much improved there are more attractive solar loans now through which one can own their own PV system, really adding value to their homes.