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Colored Photovoltaics: CoolTechStuff

Larry Mortimer, AIA

While in the process of designing a new home for my family, I’m of course looking to make it as energy efficient as possible.  This includes photovoltaic cells on the roof.  While looking for my solution I came across colored PV panels, which I did not know about.  Here are three companies that offer colored solar panels.

Kameleon Solar:  Kameleon Solar is a Dutch company that designs and manufactures colored solar panels.  The company offers panels in custom sizes where the glass is colored or the cells are colored.  With the colored glass approach the cells are not visible and the panels appear to be one solid color.  With the colored cell approach, the cells are visible and the panels have a sparkling appearance.  The colored glass panels are available in eight colors (gold, green, blue-green, blue, terra-cotta, bronze, light grey, and grey).  The colored cell panels are available in five colors (sparkling gold, disco pink, emerald green, stone elegance, and diamond blue).

More Info:

V-energy: V-energy Green Solutions is an Italian company that makes photovoltaic panels in four colors (red, green, black, and transparent which appears blue). The panels come in two sizes (1000mm x 1980mm & 998mm x 1668mm) with 60 and 72 cells, and a power range of 250-320 W.  The panels are constructed of anti-glare tempered glass with low iron content for optimum light collection, and an anodized aluminum frame.

More Info:

Colored Solar:  Colored Solar is a company in Los Angeles that also provides photovoltaic panels in several colors (red, green, metallic gold, pink diamonds, lavender, earth brown, emerald green, polished marble, and polished slate).  These panels measure 1652mm x 990mm, with a power range of 230-245 W.

More Info:

Conclusion:  Colored solar panels could help integrate PV into your project.  They could be particularly useful in historic renovation projects, or projects that are subject to design review restrictions.  Be sure to check the efficiency of any panel you want to use, because some colors are not as efficient as others.

Goring & Straja: Firm Profile

Goring & Straja principals, Jim Goring, AIA and André Straja, AIA met while working in San Francisco at William Turnbull Associates in the 1980s. There they refined their core values about place, attended occasional ‘bad attitude’ lunches, and learned much as they could from Bill and their colleagues.After separately being invited to ‘graduate’ William Turnbull Associates in the 90’s, Jim and André ventured out to form independent practices.  Goring received the call one day from Straja in Milan suggesting the transnational alliance and it seemed natural to say yes.  The two branches maintain their alliance by leveraging the near 24-hour active office – sharing staff, collaborating on marketing and design efforts, and staying close to their mission statement: have fun, do good work, and stay in business.

Over the past two decades, Goring & Straja have helmed a wide range of projects. In Milan, André has grown his side of the practice by focusing on mixed-use commercial work in Italy and retail development across Europe, bringing an American model of service and a professionally driven business practice with him. In the Bay Area and across California, the firm has been involved in a variety of institutional, residential, and commercial projects, particularly finding success in the ‘wicked problem’ challenges of complex institutional clients.

In the firm’s California work, GaS embraces the eclecticism of the region’s traditions, finding that each client and community inspires a unique approach. Working with Nespresso’s Milanese concept architect in Beverly Hills to develop a flagship retail café, the team drew on the particular tradition of LA modernist architecture to support an international brand with an international style of Southern California spirit. The result is an inviting light-filled boutique and café open to the sidewalk that celebrates both the lively local promenade and the client’s quality driven brand identity.

At the Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley, Goring & Straja is in the construction phase of a science and technology wing, merging a sustainable steam punk attitude with the bucolic hillside campus. At the same campus GaS recently completed a high school classroom building which was awarded Sustainable San Mateo’s Green Building Award, and PG&E’s Savings by design recognition. Targeting net zero performance, the first year’s metrics placed the building’s energy production very well above its consumption.

Most recently, Goring & Straja was invited to create a proposal for an updated master plan for the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church campus in Orinda. Our faith community work currently includes worship space improvements at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Daly City, master planning at Sequoia Community Church in Oakland, as well as ongoing work with Valley Christian Church and Schools in Dublin.

Whether for churches or schools, retail brands or private individuals, Goring & Straja Architects approaches every project as an opportunity to enhance the spirit of a particular place, while providing clients and communities with spaces that serve, engage and delight.

Desk Space for Lease – West Berkeley

Three desks available in a shared open office in West Berkeley! Lots of natural light, landscaped courtyard and bike parking. Shared conference room, bathroom with shower and kitchenette. We’d prefer a compatible use in the design and housing fields, but open to any discreet office use with friendly people. We are five designers/ architects working with homeowners, non-profits and developers on projects in the bay area.

Located by Standard Fare, Berkeley Bowl West, Bayer. $1200 for approx 120sf of space, or $450/desk. Available now.

devi dutta architecture, inc

Design Forecast: Technology Practice Area

Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Early registration (before November 6): Free AIA Members and employees of chapter member firms / $10 Guests
Click here to register.

1.5 CES LUs

Douglas Wittnebel, AIA takes a look into trends in the world of technology and workplace at this evening program. We’ll discuss:

– Where is tech workplace design going?

– What would a tech workplace ecosystem look like?

– How does health and wellness tie into tech?

2017 Design Awards Reception and Presentation

Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Gensler Oakland, 2101 Webster St #2000, Oakland, CA 94612
$35 AIA Members, $45 Non-members
Purchase Tickets Here
Please note, winning firms will not be notified in advance of the reception.

***New for 2017! A people’s choice award as selected by reception attendees.


  • Projects must be designed and submitted by an architect.
  • Projects must have been completed after January 1, 2010.
  • AIA East Bay members may submit projects from anywhere.
  • Non-member architects may submit projects located in the chapter’s four counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa and Solano.

Project Types

Projects of all types will be viewed, including, but not limited to:

  • Commercial, office, and mixed-use
  • Industrial, laboratories, and hospitals
  • Transportation and parking structures
  • Places of worship
  • Libraries, schools, and other institutions
  • Historic preservation, adaptive reuse, renovation and restoration
  • Single & multi-residential, dormitories, affordable & temporary housing

The 2017 Design Awards jurors:

Karen Fiene, FAIA, LEED AP
Mills College
Oakland, California










Craig Steely, AIA
Craig Steely Architecture
San Francisco, California









Marc L’Italien, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C
San Francisco, California






Ideate, Inc

Dealey Renton & Associates

Dolan’s Lumber



Pacific Coast Building Products

2015 East Bay Design Award Winner: East Oakland Sports, ELS Architecture and Urban Design
Photo Credit: David Wakely Photography

Disruption in Design Workflow

Free and open to all. Lunch provided by Ideate, Inc.
Click here to register.

BIM is changing the way architecture firms must approach the design process, and it’s yielding fantastic results.

During this presentation, learn why it is no longer necessary for teams to spend the majority of the project schedule in documentation. Explore how BIM tools, such as Revit, will give you more time to:

  • identify client needs
  • review design options
  • use technical data to evaluate solutions
  • streamline the design for greater efficiency and lower client costs

About The Presenter:

Laura Kay Smith, Design Technology Manager, ZFG Architects, has been on the technology management side of architecture for over 20 years, both as a business consultant and an in-house expert. She develops and helps firms use technology to create better design. As a thought and technology leader, Laura brings new approaches that help architectural teams transform technology and design challenges into opportunities for innovation and practice excellence.

Originally from Portland, Oregon, Laura moved to Vancouver, BC Canada in January 2011. Laura has contributed to the advancement of BIM in Vancouver by being a part of CanBIM, SmartBIM, conferences, and user groups. As the author of the blog, BIMFreak and the ebook, “How to Be a BIM Advocate,” Laura is a valuable resource for implementing and starting BIM. She has the expertise to guide all levels of BIM users toward successful and future-proof technology solutions.

How to Get Paid on Time

Thursday, November 2, 2017
Free AIA Members / $3 Guests
BYO Lunch (brown-bag lunch)

1.5 CES LUs

SFF Host: Deborah Lane, Architect

This Small Firms Forum is dedicated to billing, from contract negotiation to receiving payment:  What works and what doesn’t work. Topics include:

How do you decide what and how much to bill (your contract fee for service)?:

  1. Do you bill by the hour, by the job or both?
  2. How do you determine the amount of time a job will take? Does the time you thought you’d spend increase or decrease?
  3. Do you collect additional fees if the job takes more time than you anticipated?
  4. What kind of clauses do you have in your contract for unanticipated changes in work such as increased building permit submittal requirements etc.?

What system(s) do you use to bill?

  1. Are there specific times of the month or specific intervals that work best?
  2. How close after billing do you require payment?

Do you get paid on time?

  1. How soon after billing do you required payment?
  2. If a client doesn’t pay on time, what steps do you take.

If you have no issues with charging clients and getting paid on time, please come and let the rest of us in on your secrets! Please Note: All should be mindful that AIA is restrained by court decision, from discussing specific hourly rates or percentages.

Learning Objectives:

After completing this program, attendees will…

  1. Learn how other architects weigh the benefits of hourly vs. fixed fee contracts.
  2. Learn techniques to manage additions to the work which are outside of the original scope.
  3. Develop a perspective on the range of billing intervals used by small firm architects.
  4. Learn some of the ways late or refused payments can be managed.


Rain Screen Wall Systems

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Free and open to all. Space is limited.
Click here to register.


Among the most popular building enclosure choices are rain screen walls and systems.  This program investigates the building science and evolution of wall theory from mass walls to drainage and cavity walls finally to both pressurized and non-pressurized rain screen systems.  The attendee then learns specific details of common terra cotta, porcelain and composite panel systems operating as a rain screen. Sponsored by the International Masonry Institute

Presenter:  David Sovinski, National Director of Technical Services, International Masonry Institute

David began his masonry career over thirty years ago, and has held positions in project management, estimating and field supervision.  He managed masonry projects in New York City, Houston, Dallas and Chicago before moving to the International Masonry Institute (IMI).

Mobilizing for Fire Relief: Happy Hour Fundraiser

Thursday, October 26, 2017
Federation Brewing, 420 3rd St A, Oakland
Click here to RSVP.

YPT SF Bay joins forces with the San Francisco Bay Area Section Institute of Transportation Engineers, Bay Area Young Architects ( and AIA East Bay Emerging Professionals ( to host a fundraiser for fire relief. Federation Brewing will donate $1 from every pint sold to the Sonoma County Resilience Fund ( This happy hour is hosted by YPT SF Bay.

Drinks won’t be on them this time– they’re donating their happy hour pot to the Resilience Fund– but we hope you come out and drink up for a good cause! The need is great, and we know the transportation community can come together to help those who lost so much in the fires.

Can’t make the HH? Feel free to donate directly to the Sonoma County Resilience Fund (

Designing Modern Wood Schools: A Guide for Architects and Structural Engineers

Thursday, October 26, 2017
$20, Lunch Provided by Woodworks

Click here to register. Space is limited.


This course is intended for architects and structural engineers who are seeking a full system understanding of the unique design considerations associated with wood-frame schools. Architectural design and detailing topics specific to school performance criteria such as durability, fire and life safety, and allowable building size will be discussed. Schools space planning needs will be highlighted as will construction type selection and opportunities for wood use. Structural design steps, considerations, and detailing best practices related to gravity and lateral analysis of common school configurations such as classroom floor design and corridor wall framing will also be covered, along with options for wood-frame tall walls and long-span roofs in open areas such as gyms. With an emphasis on budget, this course will present designers with the information necessary to utilize wood framing as a cost savings tool.

Speaker: Janelle Leafblad, PE, Regional Director, WoodWorks