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July ArchNews 2018

July ArchNews is out now! Click the links below to read each article:

Project Profile: JumpstartMD Medical Clinic
Green: Help Your Consultants Help You
HKIT: 70 Years and Counting
8/4: Home Tours 2018
Codes: Learning from Accessible Play Areas
Member News 
Firm Profile: A2R Architects
Member Profile: Lan T. Ly’s Path to Architecture

HKIT: 70 Years And Counting

As part of their 70th anniversary celebration, HKIT agreed to answer questions about their history and what’s next for the firm. Be sure to see their commemorative exhibit at the chapter office the next time you’re in downtown Oakland. HKIT’s exhibit will be on display through the end of August.

  1. How did your firm get its name?
    The firm began in 1948 as “Donald L. Hardison, Architect”, the name of its founding partner, it changed several times over the years as Principals joined the firm becoming Hardison Komatsu Ivelich & Tucker in 1974. The name was later simplified to HKIT Architects in 2008.
  2. How large is the firm?
    47 employees

  1. Where are you located?
  1. How did the firm get its start?
    Founding Principal Donald L. Hardison started the firm in 1948 with a variety of post-war housing and community projects.
  1. What is the firm personality?
    Socially conscious and community-based architecture, largely for non-profits
  1. What’s the firm’s focus?
    Affordable Housing, Senior Living, and Learning Environments (K-12 Schools)
  1. How might the focus of your practice change?
    The diversity of our portfolio has sustained us through the changes in the economy over time, so for the present our direction is solid moving forward.
  1. What’s the most unusual project your firm has done?
    The Peace Garden at the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose and Buena Vista Terrace, the conversion of a church to affordable senior housing, in San Francisco
  1. When was the firm established?
  1. What’s your favorite local building?
    U.C. Berkeley Student Center (designed by Hardison DeMars)
  1. What is the makeup of your firm and do you have other disciplines?
    HKIT offers Architectural, Planning and Interior Design services
  1. How is your firm structured?
    6 Principals, 2 Senior Associates, 8 Associates
  1. Do you have any office pets?
  1. Which method of marketing has been the most successful for the firm?
    All of the above … no rest for the weary here … but we rely heavily on existing clients, and repeat work as a result of the value we place on client service and doing good work
  1. How would you describe your firm’s culture?
  1. What team-building activities happen within your firm?
    Happy Hour Fridays, summer picnic, regular staff lunches, volunteer opportunities etc.
  2. What’s your firm’s favorite lunch spot?
    There are so many great places in Old Oakland!
  1. What does the future hold for the firm?
    It looks bright!!

    Lion Creek Crossing

    Visit HKIT at to learn more.

Help Your Consultants Help You: Green

Steve Gross is a Senior Energy Analyst and Mechanical Engineer with Interface Engineering, a Bay Area progressive mechanical and electrical consultancy, focusing on innovative engineering solutions for high-performance projects.

Delivering a truly high-performance building is an immense challenge that requires a concerted, impassioned effort from all the project’s stake holders. But there are a few habits that the architect can employ to help the team of consultants to achieve success. The most important is COMMUNICATION. Projects rarely, if ever, achieve high performance by accident. It takes a vocal leader to continually remind the team of what we are all striving for. Push your consultants to think along the lines of sustainability at every stage of the project. Over time, you’ll notice that your team will start to operate this way without being asked to. I truly love those moments when someone from the structural team or the civil team comes up with a great sustainability idea that would have never come to light under a “typical” team structure.

Be an ADVOCATE for analysis. You can set the tone for the project by talking to the owner about the benefits of early-stage analysis and analytical decision-making whenever possible.  Help the owner and other members of the design team understand the value of energy analysis and how it can be used to inform the design of the building. We all know it’s much easier (and less costly) to modify the design at early stages rather than during the Design Development and Construction Documents phases.

Increase your LITERACY of energy and financial analyses so that you can participate directly in the analysis process. Depending on the project’s goals, you may seek to reduce first cost, annual energy cost, carbon footprint, or lifecycle cost. Each goal requires a different analytical approach and likely requires different design strategies. It will be your direction, as the leader of the consultant team, that will ultimately steer the team towards accomplishing one of these goals.

A final habit is to employ PASSIVE design strategies wherever possible, and push your consultants to do the same. This can be challenging, especially if there is a perception that passive strategies do not perform as well. For example, do corridors and other transitional space really need to be heated and cooled to the same setpoints as the other regularly occupied spaces? Most mechanical engineers will simply assume that these spaces should be conditioned in the same way, unless they are told otherwise. The team will take comfort in knowing that you believe in this design approach and have helped the owner understand the implications of passive strategies.

Member News – July 2018

Judhajit Chakraborty, Assoc. AIA started a new position with Stantec.







John Thatch, AIA of Dahlin Group served on the AIA’s 2018 Housing Awards jury. You can read more about the Housing Awards program here.

Learning from Accessible Play Areas: Codes

By Kerwin Lee, AIA

Very few architects and designers get into designing play grounds. This is not a project scope that is presented to us often, unless it is part of a school or park. Even then, there is a learning curve on what it is all about.  There were no design criteria for play areas, much less for the disabled, other than some OSHA (safety) standards. When the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted back in 1991, there was a small section that spoke to having accessibility to recreational areas, which included play areas, but no real rules or criteria. “The Guidelines for Accessible Play Areas” were issued in 2005.

When I was growing up, playgrounds were fairly simple with swings and a climbing structure of some sort. The surface material was sometimes asphalt or just dirt. I feel lucky that I was never seriously injured on these. Play areas are pretty much the same in concept today. Sure the structures or components are more sophisticated using today’s technology, but the approach is still the same. The intent of the regulations is not focused on safety, but equality of access for a child with disabilities. Playing needs to have some levels of risk involved. This is part of the play “experience.” This adds to the excitement/challenge and aids in learning one’s limits.

One of the key parts for people with disabilities is the “play experience.” Opportunity should be available for not only play, but for socialization and learning. A child with a disability will not be able to do everything an able-bodied child can do, but should be able to experience the joy, laughter and feelings other kids have.  Being included and not excluded is the key concept.

The guidelines are available on this website.

The guidelines address the following:
Accessible routes
Ground level/surface – Maneuvering space
Entry Points – Transfer systems
Connected Elevated Components
Play tables
Soft contained play structures – play structures within a building

The guidelines do not specify what types of components are required, but play components, such as swings, slides and climbers, are required to make at least one component accessible. This would include things like transfer points from a wheelchair to a climbing structure or slide. If a sand or water play area is provided, an equal play area for a child in a wheelchair needs to be included.

Equal Facilitation is the concept of using innovative solutions and new technology to being accessible. Alternative designs and materials can be used in order to satisfy the intent of the component and comply with the guidelines. This is more so in the approach for an accessible play area.

One of the hardest things to decide on in a design for a play area is the ground surface. There are a lot of so called “accessible surface” (stable and firm) providing the ability for mobility devices (wheelchair) to gain access. Some types of loose materials (wood fiber and rubber materials) meet the ASTM Standards and may be safer than a harder surface against fall. Loose materials area is a maintenance problem and requires a lot of maintenance to keep it in compliance. Most designers or jurisdictions will opt for a harder surface with less maintenance.

Recently opened is the Lamorinda “all-access” playground at the Moraga Commons Park in Moraga. It was a community effort to bring this together and one of the best examples of a high-level accessible play area. The area contains a variety of components addressing different types of disability and provides a high-level of play experience, socialization and learning for all. The approach for all accessible play areas should be applied to all accessible buildings. What experience does your building provide for its occupants and users, including ones with disabilities?

Comments from Erick Mikiten, AIA:


Growing up as a wheelchair rider, most play areas I encountered were sandy, and the only way I could get access was if my parents painstakingly dragged my wheelchair through the send, over to the equipment. But even then, the equipment was mostly unusable for someone at a seated level. And as my friends ran around the playground, I could not follow them.

Fast forward 38 years when I had a son of my own, with my same weak bone condition, although he doesn’t need a wheelchair. There were many things that he wouldn’t ever be able to do, but the change in playground design, and the requirements of the ADA gave him more options than I had.

But still, many playgrounds, even if they had equipment from more “enlightened” manufacturers, still didn’t have surfaces that I could wheel over to stay close and help him. And even if I could reach a climbing structure, I probably couldn’t get my wheelchair to all sides of it to spot him as he played.

So if you do get a chance to design a playground (I’ve done a few and they’re great fun to design), think not only about the kids playing, and the surfaces, but think about how parents might interact with kids. Provide access for wheelchairs everywhere (including two or three kids in wheelchairs coming to play together), provide seats for older grandparents to sit and monitor kids, etc. I find that the more creatively we think about our audience and the different things they’ll want to do in playgrounds, the more exciting and creative the playgrounds become for everyone.

JumpstartMD Medical Clinic: Project Profile

JumpstartMD, Northern California’s leading medically supervised weight-loss and wellness practice, opened its flagship center at One Embarcadero, San Francisco’s premier office and retail space and brought on Hilliard Architects to design the project. JumpstartMD helps members reshape their lives and achieve their personal health and weight loss goals, with a proven program based on eating real fresh food, individual biometrics, leading-edge research and physician supervision.

“JumpstartMD has helped more than 70,000 patients in the bay area” said Philippe Sanchez, President and CEO. “We are thrilled to bring our personalized approach to weight-loss and wellness to One Embarcadero in San Francisco and help many more lead happier, healthier lives.”

Philippe Sanchez, President and CEO and Dr. Sean Bourke, MD led the design by requesting a warm and inviting clinic opening onto a living room/waiting area. Exam rooms were designed with semi-translucent interior walls and sliding doors to allow for member privacy while allowing natural daylight to penetrate the entire suite, creating a welcoming yet private environment, encouraging members in their weight loss journey.

The medical clinic has been well received with patient numbers substantially ahead of all projections.

The Project Team:
Architect: Hilliard Architects
Mike Hilliard, AIA, Project Principal
Joanna Zumalt-McGarry, Healthcare Planner
Justin Chitood, Project Manager
Katie Wilson, Project Designer
Lauren Kawakami, Interior Designer

Contractor & MEP Design-Build:
Andrew Pearl, Project Manager
Kazumi Komar, Estimator
Kevin Rodgers, Superintendent

Steve Fisch Photography

COTE: Resilient by Design Challenge

Thursday, July 19, 2018
Free and open to all.

Ben Levi gives a presentation of Ratcliff Architect’s explorations into issues raised by the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge competition.

“Resilience,” like sustainability, is difficult to define, yet everyone is talking about how to build or maintain it. So, what is resilience really, and is it a useful concept or a meaningless buzzword?

Why is it that when we talk about resilience, we immediately think scary thoughts about disaster and disturbance? Can we think about resilience in terms of renewal and innovative thinking?

Inspired by the recent Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge competition, which took place in our own “Bay(k)yard”, a small group of us at Ratcliff embarked on a six-month long exploration to find answers to some of these questions. We invite you to join us for this presentation/conversation to discuss some of the things we’ve learned about the overwhelming complexity of issues and many dimensions of resilience, a surface of which we feel we’ve only began to scratch.


Firm Profile:  A2R Architects

A2R Architects, Inc. was formed in April 2014 with Rob Henley, AIA (UC Berkeley & SFIA) and Rob Sesar, RA (U of Oregon) as principals of the firm.  Combined, the principals have 75 years of experience practicing in the Northern California.  Rob Henley is a Northern California native while Rob Sesar was raised in Oregon.

A2R Architects is located in Vacaville and provides architectural design expertise for a wide range of project types along with a full spectrum of professional design services.  Services to our clients include: programming, master planning, design, construction documents, bidding, construction administration and post construction evaluations.  Project types include:  assisted living/memory care, commercial/retail, auto dealerships, institutional, industrial and educational.

Our firm’s culture values integrity, trust & commitment and is dedicated to achieving our clients’ vision and our design solutions reflect a clear understanding of their goals and objectives.  In collaborating with our clients and consultants, we create buildings and spaces that promote social interaction, comfort and productivity with outcomes that respect our environment. Two recently completed projects exemplify this:  Sheet Metal Workers Training Center – Local 104:  LEED Gold and the Building 600 and Administration Expansion and Remodel – Solano CC:  LEED Silver.

A2R Architects is dedicated to maintaining a high degree of responsiveness to our clients.  Achieving excellent architecture for them within reasonable and predictable budget and schedule expectations is more than a goal – it is the cornerstone of our business and the key to success.

Educating our clients is critical to what to do – as both a learning organization and as client educators.  Both of these values help expand the design possibilities for our clients in an age when complex and changing technology and demographics — along with a variety of sociological factors — affect the way people work, study and interact.  These elements are studied in advance to understand how a building should function as well as so that it will continue to be relevant and stand the test of time.

The firm encourages all members to be involved with the community and giving back in the form they choose.  The principals are active members of the Vacaville and Fairfield-Suisun Rotary Clubs and local chambers of commerce.

Lan T. Ly’s Path to Architecture: Member Profile

After receiving his B.A. in economics from Rutgers University, Lan T. Ly, Assoc. AIA worked at Merrill Lynch in the marketing department of the insurance group. His main responsibilities were to generate sales ideas for over 14,000 financial consultants. Because he was interested in UI and UX of web design, he was a natural fit to lead the development of the insurance group’s intranet. Lan worked with web designers, the art and sales department and developers to deliver a site that was easy to use.

After Merrill Lynch, he joined a music start-up in New York City where he was responsible for design, concepts, and managing a team of web designers and developers. This role satisfied his left and right brain.

At twenty six he had a “quarter life crisis.” Something was still missing. He had to take a leap of faith. Naturally he moved to Barcelona said he studied at the University of Valencia during his junior year at Rutgers. In Barcelona, he lived a few blocks from Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion where he rediscovered Gaudí. Seeing the passion, commitment and artistry of Gaudí he decided to pursue a career in architecture.

Upon returning to the U.S., he moved to Pleasant Hill. He enrolled in architecture classes at Diablo Valley College where he met Max Jacobson. Max Jacobson and Murray Silverstein were co-authors of “A Pattern Language,” and co-founders of JSW/D in Berkeley. At JSW/D Lan worked on affordable housing projects which he found important because of his family’s roots as refugees from Vietnam.

Lan has only worked at East Bay firms: first at David Kesler Architect and later at Charles Debbas Architecture. The modernist and conceptual work at these firms helped prepare him for graduate school.

As a person who learns best by doing, Lan had no intentions of going back to school but work was scarce during the Great Recession. He only applied to UC Berkeley and was accepted. For his thesis he focused on affordable prefabrication for the 99%. He designed and built a prefabricated dwelling unit that was easy to assemble, affordable and code-compliant.

After receiving his M.Arch from UC Berkeley in 2014, Lan decided to work in landscape architecture. At Hood Design Studio, he managed the Yerba Buena Island Hilltop Park (regional park on top of the island) and Peralta Hacienda Historical Park (birthplace of Oakland). Both were landscapes that dealt with the detritus of time, memory and the built environment. He completed the construction administration for the landscape at San Francisco’s Bayview Opera House.

Lan has managed public art projects at Princeton University (glass and steel towers representing the legacy of Woodrow Wilson), at San Diego International Airport (a 275 ft. long x 12 ft. tall glass wall of light and color), and in Santa Monica (monumental sandstone sculpture representing the geologic history of the city).

In early 2018, Lan returned to architecture. He is currently a project designer in the healthcare group at Ratcliff Architects. He is elated to be in a supportive environment where he can continue to grow as a designer and global citizen. His intermediate goal is to get licensed.

Lan is married to a social worker. Their two young daughters keep them exhausted and therefore grounded. They live in beautiful Oakland.

Fire and Sound Assemblies: Small Firm Forum

Thursday, July 12, 2018
Brown Bag Lunch (BYO Lunch)
Free for AIA Members / $3 Guests

1.5 CES LUs

The UL Fire Resistance Directory and the various sound assembly resources tend to intimidate professionals. Focusing on the UL Directory, we hope to make these resources easy to understand and apply while avoiding the common mistakes that have led to litigation.

Fire, Smoke, Heat and Sound Assemblies – Components of a safe and livable environment.
Fire and sound assemblies are like a transmission in your car. If one part is missing or assembled incorrectly, the car won’t run.  The UL manual tends to intimidate professionals and mistakes are made. Focusing primarily on the UL Fire Resistance Manual, this presentation is intended to explain and simplify the selection of fire and sound assemblies and illustrate common mistakes that have led to litigation.

About the Presenter:

Dennis Reilly, Architect/Structural Engineer (President of Reilly & Company & POSTEN Engineering Systems) has designed projects ranging from housing to hospitals and has provided forensic investigation services on projects ranging from housing to justice centers. 

Learning Objectives:

After this presentation, attendees will…

  1.  Have an understanding of the UL Fire Resistance Directory, its organization, components (fire, temperature, smoke, walls, floors, roofs, cladding, penetrations, etc.) and limitations.
  2. Identify at least three common issues related to Sound Assemblies.
  3. Know common mistakes (constructibility, coordination with consultants, application, installation, etc) that have led to litigation.
  4. Removed the intimidation factor in selecting and specifying fire and sound assemblies.