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Posts from the ‘ArchNews’ Category

Studio Bergtraun, AIA, Architects: Firm Profile

Established in 1988, Studio Bergtraun, AIA, Architects, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this summer!

Palo Alto Lutheran Church Narthex addition to 1960’s Mid-Century Modern church creating a community “glue” to encourage its members to socialize and draw closer to each other in the new space.

Based in Emeryville, this six person office has designed over the years an array of projects varying from single family residences and multi-family residential complexes to neighborhood commercial, religious architecture, an urban farm and  a few Boy Scout Camps.
Alex Bergtraun, principal of the firm, a graduate of Cal Poly, SLO, completed his 5th year of the school with a Rotarian Scholarship in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Upon his return to the US, Alex worked the next four years for noted Peninsula architect Goody Steinberg, FAIA.  This important phase of Alex’s career transitioned when he then returned to Europe and worked for the next three years in an architectural studio in Milan, Italy.  This extensive work experience and study in Italy and Denmark along with travel through Asia and Europe have provided a rich design background for the studio.

The studio is located in a vibrant hub of activity in Emeryville  which has helped to continue the studio’s goal of inclusively working together with local artists and artisans on all projects integrally as they are designed. After having rented the Doyle Street studio space for over two decades, the firm bought the building complex and has incorporated a gallery space as part of its overall studio so that it can further promote the arts showing art by the firm’s members as well as hosting gallery openings of local community artists and artisans.

Each environment designed by the studio, residential, commercial and institutional, is responsive to the client’s program and budget, respectful of the surrounds in which they are sited, and attentive to the creative, functional and eco-friendly use of materials.  Every project attempts to create in various California climate zones, from Sea Ranch and Eureka to Tahoe  and both sides of the Bay Area, indoor-outdoor flow as an integral part of each design.

The firm has also done a series of pro bono projects giving back to the community including:

-Design and construction of the Solano Avenue Parklet

-Design and construction of a 60 foot long grape arbor and seating area at Urban Adamah farm in West Berkeley, where the firm is also designing all of the other buildings for this Urban Farming community campus, including a communal kitchen and an EcoLodge.

-Design workshops for the local Boy Scout Council High Sierra and local camps

It is the studio’s belief that architecture can be a beautiful framework enhancing the lives of those who live and work within and around it and the studio is committed to being a part of the rich exploration of Bay Area architecture.

Alpine Meadows new home perched on 23 degree granite ledge above community creek using materials reminiscent of old nearby Truckee train barns.

Upcoming Changes to the ARE

Upcoming ARE Fee Increase

As a reminder, the cost of each ARE 5.0 division will increase from $210 to $235 on October 1, 2018. The total cost of the six-division exam ($1,410) will still be less than ARE 4.0’s total fees.

Candidates can purchase seat credits for an ARE 5.0 division at the $210 price until September 30. Purchase your seat credits in advance of the fee increase if you plan to test within the next twelve months and save $25 per division.

New AIA Contract Documents & Building Codes

Also starting on October 1, ARE 5.0 will reference the newest version of the AIA Contract Documents and the 2015 International Building Code—which you can download for free online.

The ARE will continue to address the standard agreements previously identified. Candidates should expect to see additional questions related to the following contracts:

  • A133-2009: Owner-Construction Manager as Constructor Agreement
  • A195-2008: Owner-Contractor Agreement for Integrated Project Delivery
  • A295-2008: General Conditions of the Contract for Integrated Project Delivery
  • B195-2008: Owner-Architect Agreement for Integrated Project Delivery

Member News – August 2018

Firms Featured

Lowney Architecture featured in East Bay Express for their work on a new structure that will host a restaurant in Oakland.
Click here to read the full story.

Rendering provided by Studio KDA.

Awards and Recognition

Napa Design Partners Wins 2018 Public Works Project of the Year Award.
Click here to read the press release.

Photo by Alten Construction.

Capitol Villas By BKBC Architects: Project Profile

Downtown Fremont will soon get its first dose of what’s been sprouting up in commercial districts throughout the Bay Area – a true mixed-use development designed by BKBC Architects, Inc. Located on an approximately one-acre site across the street from City Hall on the corner of Capitol Avenue & Hastings Street, this 95,000 sf building truly represents the city’s vision for “Capitol Corridor” – a new downtown for the City of Fremont.

“Capitol Villas” is a five-story building with 14,000 sf of ground floor commercial space with both covered and uncovered parking. Residential condos are on four levels above with 44 luxury units in a variety of sizes from 800 sf 1-bedroom + 1 ½ bath units to 1,200 sf  2 bedroom + 2 ½ bath units and 1,600 sf 3 bedroom +3 ½ bath units. A full basement level contains 54 parking spaces, all of which are equipped for plug-in electric vehicles. Several amenities are provided for residents including a large multipurpose room with a living/exercise/sports facility on grade level, a rooftop terrace with lush landscaping, and multiple seating areas with space for BBQ and informal gathering for the residents.

Designed in a California Vernacular Architectural style, it distinguishes itself from other buildings in the City by its vivid colors and interplay of the shadows on the street facades with fenestration of balconies. The corner element is designed as a ‘Beacon’ in layers of different materials and tone on tone color. The commercial space on grade level is carried out in more contemporary hues and is articulated by a frame of larger format stone tiles and metal awnings over the storefronts.

The residential entry is placed on the main street but in a corner to give it some privacy. It is emphasized by a change in height, a cornice element, and different color and material. A second entry is provided for the residential units from the back with loading and parking in close proximity. The residential levels are darker in color to highlight the balcony elements and accents of composite siding create vertical bands of contrast.

Principal Designer & Architect: Sanjiv Bhandari, AIA, FIIA
Project Manager & Designer: Courtney Fogal, LEED AP

Owner & Developer: Kontech USA, Inc., Pleasanton, CA
Civil Engineer: DeBolt Civil Engineering, Danville, CA
Structural Engineer: Harris & Sloan Consulting Engineers Inc., Sacramento, CA
Mechanical & Plumbing Engineer: Engineering Network, Lafayette, CA
Electrical Engineer: Zeiger Engineers Inc., Oakland, CA
Landscape Architects: ANLA Associates Inc., San Jose, CA

March for the Climate – Meeting the Paris Agreement Climate Goals

Cate Leger, Principal, Leger Wanaselja Architecture

Environmental organizations around the country are organizing a massive march in San Francisco September 8.

Meeting the Paris climate goals requires a lot of changes—including many changes to buildings.  Even as the ink dried on the Paris Agreement, analysts were telling us that the international commitments were nowhere near enough to keep global warming to under 1.5 or even 2 degrees Celsius.  But it was a start.  And even as Trump and his cohort walk us back nationally from these commitments, we in California and many others around the world are leaning in.

In September,  leaders pushing forward on meeting the Paris climate goals will be gathering in California for the Global Climate Action Summit  to share new commitments and challenge each other to go farther.  The Summit includes many excellent and ambitious challenges, several quite relevant to architects:

  • Net Zero Carbon Building Challenge,
  • The 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge,
  • Green & Healthy Streets (“Fossil Fuel Free Streets”) Declaration, and
  • Advancing Towards Zero Waste Challenge

To support this agenda and to encourage our leaders to go further still, environmental organizations around the country are organizing a massive march in San Francisco September 8.

As architects, we have good reason to join this march.  Our everyday work is critical to solving the climate crisis.  But even as we understand what we must do–i.e. design all electric, low carbon footprint buildings, powered by renewables, and supporting zero emission vehicles–we find our efforts hampered by state level regulations.  The new 2019 Title 24 Building Standards, while improved, still include assumptions favoring gas.  In addition, energy efficiency rebates are still not available when switching fuels. See AIAEB 2-18 Newsletter for details.

At a larger scale, all of this work at designing the best Zero Carbon Buildings is inconsequential if it is not met at the same time with a comprehensive climate strategy that includes reducing fossil fuel production.  In an LA Times Op Ed, Bill McKibben argues that managing the supply side of fossil fuels works to lower greenhouse gas emissions and it is necessary to accelerate reductions enough to meet the Paris climate goals.  As a start, Governor Brown to could say no to new fossil fuel permits and take the state level equivalent stance to President Obama’s denial of the Keystone XL Pipeline.   He could go a step further and create a plan to phase out all oil and gas production in the state.

The national AIA has taken a public position in support of the Paris Climate Agreement.  Let’s ask our leaders to make our Zero Carbon Buildings more meaningful and march on September 8.

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