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COTE: Center for Environmental Studies at Bishop O’Dowd High School

Thursday, January 18, 2018
Free and open to all. RSVP to

Susi Marzuola, AIA of Siegel and Strain Architects discusses the 2017 AIA East Bay COTE Sustainable Design Honorable Mention winner, The Center for Environmental Studies at Bishop O’Dowd High School. Please note: this is a presentation at the chapter office, not a design tour.

Firm Profile: M I Architects, Inc.

M I Architects, Inc. is focused on gas station development projects.  The firm is committed to improve the look and functionality and change the perception of today’s gas stations. We develop the new, sustainable and environmentally friendly gas stations of tomorrow.  We engage clients that share our values and commitments.  M I Architects, Inc. is a seven employee firm that consists of two architects, a senior designer, a job captain and designers. We’ve provided architectural and engineering services since the firm was established in June 2005. We are located in Walnut Creek, California.

Below are some of our most notable gas station development projects:

Chevron Coleman Landings, San Jose

Shell Novato Boulevard, Novato

Shell East El Camino Real, Mountain View

AIA EB : BE AIA, a Member Mixer (and Brainstorming Session!)

Wednesday, January 31, 2017
Cost: Free AIA Members / $10 Guests; After 1/29: $10 AIA Members / $15 Guests
Click here to register.

At our January kick-off and Member Mixer, have a drink and share your thoughts on interesting people, programs and places we might feature in 2018. In addition, representatives from our committees and forums will join us to hear your feedback and answer questions. This is your chapter–be a part of its successful programs and services (and help make them even better)!

Glimmer by Variable Projects: Project Profile

Glimmer is a dynamic installation for San Francisco’s Market Street that invites passersby to enter, touch, and interact with a plush thicket of colorful suspended filaments. These strands, consisting of colored paracord suspended from a simple steel and wire mesh canopy, are cut at varying lengths to form a single volume reminiscent of an architectural vault. The structure’s colorful softness provides a welcome diversion from the everyday pedestrian experience—an immersive, tactile oasis of brightness within the urban landscape.

The installation reinterprets the typology of a masonry vault—typically heavy, solid, and static—and recasts it as a light, porous, and highly dynamic structure. Glimmer dematerializes a familiar symbol of structure, stability and fixity into a kaleidoscopic, indeterminate environment of fibrous material that is constantly in flux. Its mirage-like quality—disappearing, then reappearing, as it indexes the changing sunlight and local airflows along Market Street—generates multiple readings at multiple scales for passersby. From afar, the hanging cords coalesce into the form of a solid vault; yet this figure is constantly shifting as it reacts to the airflow of its surrounding environment. As visitors approach the installation, they are encouraged to enter and inhabit the structure’s soft “poché,” and to touch and interact with the soft hanging cords.

Glimmer was commissioned for the Market Street Prototyping Festival, a design competition jointly sponsored by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and San Francisco Planning Department that challenged artist and architects to reimagine public infrastructure along the city’s primary urban thoroughfare. For four days in October 2016, Glimmer was installed on Market Street in San Francisco’s Financial District, where thousands of pedestrians interacted with the bright, colorful, and dynamic addition to the streetscape. The structure attracted people of all ages, sizes, backgrounds, and dispositions to depart from their conventional day-to-day sidewalk routine and engage in a moment of light playfulness that is not commonly seen in the urban realm.

Project Credits:
Client: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts / San Francisco Planning Department
Design: Adam Marcus, Frederico Leite Gonçalves, Sean Gentry
Steel Fabrication: Nicholson Design & Fabrication
Fabrication & Assembly Team: Adam Marcus, Sean Gentry, Mark Nicholson, Gabriel Ascanio, Rajah Bose, Jenny Gonzalez, De Huynh, Jonathan Joong, Eva Lai, Mrnalini Mills-Raghavan, Skye Pan, Ernesto Preciado-Canez, Nicolas Cilloniz Tanji, Joaquin Tobar Martinez, Dustin Tisdale
Photography: Joseph Chang, Adam Marcus
Thanks to: CCA Digital Craft Lab, Tristan Randall / Autodesk

2017 and Beyond: Codes

Kerwin Lee, AIA, CASp

As we look back on 2017 and what events had the most impact on codes – it was disasters. The wildfires in Northern and Southern California being the most recent disasters. This always sparks the discussion on what more can be done in the codes to prevent or lessen these types of events.

It was after the 1991 Oakland Hills fire that the state wrote and incorporated Chapter 7A, addressing wildland/urban interface. It was a move to reduce the effects of a wildfire on areas where the urban landscape and construction border on spaces deemed a potential exposure to wildfires. This is usually urban developments that are backed up against open spaces or wooded areas, including areas on hillsides that made firefighting more difficult (because of limited access). The level of risk increases as development continues to push into these areas.

Chapter 7A addresses where urban/wildland interface is considered. For a detailed map of what is classified as “Wildland Interface Fire Area,” there are maps by county, and some by city, defining these hazardous areas where Chapter 7A applies. Here is the link to the state Fire Marshals’ website for the maps and other information related to wildland/urban interface:

If you find that your project falls in these moderate to high hazard areas, compliance with Chapter 7A is required. This chapter addresses the following:

  • Ignition resistant construction, including roofing, vents and exterior coverings
  • Exterior flooring, such as decks and other construction
  • Exterior windows and doors
  • Vegetation Management

Vegetation is important in our environment. We want to have trees and shrubs around our homes, but there may be a price to pay in the increased risk of wildfires. Vegetation management is addressed in detail in the Fire Code, Section 4906. This drawing is from the state Fire Marshals’ website on defensible space:

The recent wildfires in the California go beyond what Chapter 7A covers. Even if you complied with the current state requirements, your building could still have burned. This is mainly because the fires have been so unique and beyond what the code addresses. There are three main elements in a fire: fuel, ignition source and oxygen (air). The air or oxygen in these fires has been ferocious, driven by extreme winds. It is the winds that make the fires so difficult to control and contain. The fuel load and terrain where the fires are located add to this. It will be interesting to see what (if anything) will come out of these events in the form of legislation and/or codes changes. It will be like after 9/11 and the World Trade Center attack, with people saying something needed to be done in the code to prevent this from happening again. We do not design buildings to take the impact of an airplane with tens of thousands of gallons of flammable liquid. And we do not design buildings to withstand a blowtorch or to sit in a furnace.

Going into 2018 we can expect new changes in the code. The state will be working on amending and issuing our next set of codes, the 2019 edition. Things to be looking at will be environmental issues incorporated into building construction and more energy regulations. Disabled access will continue to expand its application. One thing being worked on is incorporating changes in the latest edition of ANSI A-117.1, 2017, which has not been adopted into the IBC for the 2018 edition. It may be adopted in the 2021 edition. There are some significant space changes in the requirements that will affect all designs, including larger wheelchair space and larger maneuvering space. We will have to wait and see how all of these will affect the codes, if adopted.

If the codes do change, we want it to better society and its needs.


Erick Mikiten, AIA

Erick’s Comments

One of the lessons of the North Bay fires is that just following the Building Code is not necessarily enough. As Kerwin said, the codes are always changing in response to new events and research. As licensed architects, we have a responsibility to design thoughtfully – which can mean going beyond the code minimums.

That’s especially true when changes to the building code are in process, which can take years. Lessons from the terrible balcony collapse in Berkeley in 2015 took over two years to get into the state building code. Less-dramatic but still important changes can take much longer. But there’s nothing stopping us from trying to design our buildings to address these issues right away.

This is something I lecture about a lot in universal design, where change is particularly slow. Next month we’ll look at the new 2017 version of ANSI A117.1 that Kerwin mentions and see the changes coming down the pike. You can start incorporating them now – even before they trickle into the California Building Code.

Shifan Deng, Assoc. AIA: Member Profile

Shifan Deng, Assoc. AIA is a Technical Designer at Gensler. He has always been interested in drawing and chose architecture as his major during undergraduate school in Beijing. After finishing his five-year bachelor’s degree, he continued studying at UC Berkeley and pursued a master’s degree. 

My experience attending UC Berkeley for my Masters in Architecture really broadened my horizon because I not only took courses but also taught undergraduate students during my first year. The differences in education between Beijing and Berkeley made me learn a variety of diverse design approaches. That summer I won ZGF’s summer internship and scholarship and after, was offered a one year internship with UNStudio, which was one of my favorite firms at that time. I decided to take a year off of school to accept the offer from UNStudio, in order to gain more experiences before earning my masters. My new journey had started.

The internship was divided into two parts, half the year in Shanghai and other half in Amsterdam. I appreciated the intense work in Shanghai where I picked up many new skills. I also had an amazing trip in Europe where I experienced numerous architectural masterpieces in-person. During that year, I worked on multiple projects in China and Europe, learning the difference between eastern and western culture in architecture. I developed a special interest in architectural digital tools.  With access to parametric tool tutorials and learning techniques from talented colleagues, I made a lot of progress in digital design approach. When the holidays came, I went on architectural tours to different countries with my colleagues; the splendid architecture and wonderful scenery encouraged me to create better work.

I came back to school with one year of working experience under my belt and finishing my master’s degree. I took on the role of Technical Designer at Gensler and kept exploring my own architectural path. I treat digital tools application as my expertise. I now try to solve traditional questions in a more advanced and efficient way and even started an AIA CES course at Gensler to share my knowledge of Grasshopper to colleagues.

I believe diversity in education and working experience drive me to think differently when facing a variety projects in the design process. Knowledge of digital tools helps me generate solutions in a cross-disciplinary way. I appreciate all the opportunities and resources that I have and will contribute more energy and passion into innovations in the architecture field.

Member News – January 2018

Claudia Falconer, AIA has returned to private practice and will be focusing on remodeling and additions. See her work at






Liesel Haldane, Assoc. AIA and Daniel Morales, Assoc. AIA passed their exams!

Liesel Haldane, Assoc. AIA

Daniel Morales, Assoc. AIA









Jesse Jobert, AIA has received his license in Colorado. Congrats Jesse!


ELS Names Three Design Directors and a Director of Interior Architecture

ELS has promoted Christopher Jung, Assoc. AIA, Anthony Grand, AIA, and Kenneth Loretto, AIA to Design Directors, and William Gordon, AIA to Director of Interior Architecture.

Anthony Grand, AIA

Kenneth Loretto, AIA

Christopher Jung, Assoc. AIA

William Gordon, AIA



Solar Squared: CoolTechStuff

Larry Mortimer, AIA

As the renewable energy industry is maturing we are beginning to have many more choices at our disposal, and photovoltaics is leading the charge (no pun intended).   We’ve had many photovoltaic options for some time now, but few that integrate into the building envelope itself.  The typical flat solar panels (even the ones with color) usually look like an afterthought.  For integrated options we are pretty much limited to photovoltaic shingles, and photovoltaic window glass.  Here’s an interesting addition to the mix based on research being carried out at the University of Exeter called Solar Squared.


What Does It Do:  Solar Squared is a glass block that generates electricity using focused solar energy.

What does it cost: Cost is unknown at this point.  The developer, a company called Build Solar, is currently testing the product. They anticipate a finished product to be available sometime next year.

How Does it Work:  The blocks are transparent and contain thirteen optical elements that each focus incoming sunlight onto an individual solar cell.  Within each block the cells are all linked together, and can be wired to one another.  The developer claims that the solar blocks provide better thermal insulation than conventional glass blocks while still letting much of the natural light pass into the building.  The company plans to offer coatings to control thermal gain and for different colors.

One question I have is what happens if one photovoltaic cell ceases to work?  I can’t imagine opening up a block wall to replace it.

Conclusion:   Solar Squared may become an attractive integrated solution to provide clean energy, however with efficiency and costs still to be determined, that remains to be seen.

More Info:

YAF: Augmented Reality CES Recap

Tuesday, January 25, 2018
Free and open to all.
Location: Google Launchpad Space (4th floor), 301 Howard Street, San Francisco
Click here to register.

Join the Young Architects Forum at Google Launchpad & fellow Augmented Reality + Computer Vision folks for their fun-packed event! This event is sponsored by Pixy. Pixy is a stealth AR + AI + Blockchain social commerce platform.

6:00pm – 6:30pm: Registration and Networking
6:30pm – 6:35pm: Opening remarks by Anna Cho
6:35pm – 6:45pm: CES Video & Recap
6:45pm – 7:10pm: AR + CV Demos

• uSens
uSens Inc. creates 3D Human-Computer Interaction solution for augmented and virtual reality. As a domain expert in 3D graphics, Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence, uSens is one of the first companies to provide inside-out 3D hand tracking as well as 6DOF head position tracking for both mobile and tethered AR/VR systems, allowing end users to immerse in the most naturally interactive digital experience named as “Super Reality.”

• Ultrahaptics
7:10pm – 7:35pm: Jon Peddie, Author of Augmented Reality: Where We Will All Live

7:35pm – 8:05pm: Zenka, AR + Futurist Artist. Zenka is an artist and futurist social engineer. She is a thought leader in the future of augmented reality technology and exponential change. Her focus is creating meaningful conversations around what is possible in the future using emerging technology and crowd participation. Her work can be seen in the permanent collection of Delta at JFK, Accenture Interactive in Soho, The Museum of Tech and Innovation, and tech startups in the US and Europe. She has spoken at TEDx and tech conferences around the country about the importance of leveraging our unique place in time.

8:05pm – 9:00pm: Networking

Finding the Leak Without Opening the Wall

Wednesday, February 21, 2018
$50 Westcon Member / $60 Westcon Non-member
Location: Berkeley Yacht Club, 1 Seawall Drive, Berkeley
Click here to register.

Opening wall and ceiling finishes are common when trying to search for a water leak. This type of destructive testing often causes disruptions, requires advanced planning and coordination and leaves the building aesthetically displeasing or more vulnerable to additional leakage.

The use of thermal imaging cameras is a tremendous advancement in the area of investigative leak causation documentation. With thermal imaging, we are able to “see” in the infrared what we cannot see in the visible.

Bill Weber of Richard Avelar & Associates will take you through some basic science of infrared and how it works for this application. He will also present case studies of projects where the use of thermal imaging was a quick, non-destructive and non-intrusive means of determining the source area of the water intrusion leak.

In addition, Mr. Weber will discuss the advantages of the photos and science in construction defect litigation work. You will also have an opportunity to use a thermal imaging camera during the session.

About the Speaker:

Bill Weber is a Senior Consultant for Richard Avelar & Associates; Northern California’s architectural, construction and building code experts who specialize in the forensic analysis, design and repair of commercial properties and single and multi-family residential buildings. He was most recently on the Western Chapter Board of Directors for Disaster Kleenup International, a national Cleaning and Restoration Association, and is also a founding member of the Building Science Institute.

Weber is one of only several hundred people in the country to earn the coveted Certified Restorer designation from the Restoration Industry Association. He is also a Board Certified Microbial Remediation Supervisor (CMRS) and earned his Certified Building Science Thermographer (CBST) credentials from the Infrared Training Center.

If you have any questions please contact Westcon at (707) 792-1323.

Learning Objectives:

  • Gain a better understanding of the science behind thermography and the infrared spectrum.
  • Gain a better understanding of how thermal imaging can be one of the most important tools to discover the location of leaks and other thermal anomalies.
  • Gain a better understanding about the use of the acquired data and its role in litigation or potential litigation work.