Tom Tomasi, founder of Tomasi Architects in Santa Rosa, passed away at age 92 on September 16th. Tomasi is the “T” in “TLCD Architecture” and his passing has real significance to all of us at TLCD. Tom’s son, Don Tomasi joined his father’s firm in 1984 and helped shape the growth and decision to merge with Lawry Coker DeSilva Architecture in 1993.
After the merger, Tom stayed involved with the firm and brought his design expertise to projects, however Don took over a leadership role – which continues today. It’s not everyday that you experience such a strong family legacy passed down through generations. From the firm’s inception in 1965 to celebrating our 51st year as TLCD Architecture, Tom Tomasi will be remembered as a driving force in local architecture.
As the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) prepares for service later this year, the first wave of transit-oriented development is set to begin. TLCD Architecture is part of a larger team led by ROEM Development Corporation, who is in negotiations with SMART on an exciting mixed-use development at Railroad Square in Santa Rosa.
Read more in this Press Democrat article “SMART advances mixed-use housing project for Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square“.
Santa Rosa’s city center has long been known as Courthouse Square and it carries a long, rich history. Originally laid out as a plaza in the early 1800’s, it later became the site of a grand County Courthouse. The Square was a lively center of community and political activity and a place where young and old gathered. The 1906 earthquake destroyed the Courthouse and a new one was built on the same site as part of the reconstruction efforts.
By the 1960’s county government had outgrown the Courthouse and it was razed. In the midst of urban renewal, the Square was divided into two parts by varying interests and Mendocino Avenue was routed through the middle. Several decades and many City Councils later, the City of Santa Rosa is moving forward with the Reunification of Courthouse Square. This plan reunifies the Square and creates an urban park and gathering space for residents and visitors alike. With proximity to great dining, shopping and events like the Wednesday Night Farmers Market, it will also serve as an economic boon to local businesses.
TLCD Architecture has been a downtown Santa Rosa business for over 50 years and the architect on many key public projects. In February 2016, the firm moved to our new office at 520 Third Street, which fronts Courthouse Square. The building, a former telephone switching facility, had been abandoned for decades. TLCD’s team recognized the potential to transform it into a contemporary building with urban office space and retail opportunities. Working as part of the development team, this building was designed with the reunification of Courthouse Square in mind as a way to reinvigorate the city center.
Recognized for our role in the revitalization of downtown Santa Rosa, as well as other community projects, the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce recently named TLCD Architecture Small Business of the Year. Principal Don Tomasi, accepted the award and spoke to our firm’s commitment and work culture.
Furthering this exciting momentum are key infrastructure projects including the SMART Train, which is set to begin passenger rail service in late 2016. With stations that include the Sonoma County Airport (also in active expansion mode) and Railroad Square, there will be non-vehicular transportation directly to downtown Santa Rosa. This connectivity will bring a new level of energy and activity to the city center… aka Courthouse Square!
To learn about the City of Santa Rosa’s vision, see the Downtown Station Area Specific Plan.
For more about the history of Courthouse Square, read Gaye LeBaron’s article: Old Courthouse Square has divided Santa Rosa for 160 years.
Recently the Redwood Empire Food Bank held its annual “Canstruction” event, which turns a food drive into a can sculpture competition. It was held at the Coddingtown Mall for a week of display and voting. Afterwards all the food was donated to our local food bank where it was dispersed into the 52 million pounds of food they donate to families of Sonoma County every year! We were able to raise donations for 2,889 pounds of food for the final design. To start this mission ZFA laid down the strong ground work and rallied the troops for a few fun filled weeks of designing and developing the sculpture. To help visualize and smooth the build day, the team leaders arrived with 3D drawings that were comparable to a Lego instruction book. The day of construction was so fun and rewarding we decided to share the experience. Hey mom, playing with your food is awesome!
Anyone living in California knows the impact the wine industry has on our economy. California produces 90% of the wine for the US with an estimated retail value of $24.6 billion. California is also becoming the leader in wine business education for professionals worldwide. What you might not know is that Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, is leading the way with its innovative Wine Business Institute (WBI). The WBI is an education and research institute within the School of Business and Economics. It was created as a public-private partnership with a clear mission: to educate students, provide research and develop programs that would support the needs of one of the primary industries and employers in our region and around the world. WBI is the first and only program in the US to focus exclusively on the business aspects of the wine industry, offering both an undergraduate degree and MBA program.
TLCD Architecture, located just minutes from Sonoma State University, has a diverse practice that includes work for both winery/hospitality and educational clients. These two areas of expertise meshed beautifully when TLCD was selected to design the new Wine Spectator Learning Center at Sonoma State. It’s given us an opportunity to explore the programmatic needs of wine business and marketing majors and assist the school in developing high level design visualizations for fundraising efforts.
Our work with the WBI began by meeting with the administrators and faculty to develop a vision and concept for the new facility, which will comprise a complete remodel of the original University Commons Building. From that initial vision we created several renderings of the design concept, which in turn helped to generate several large donations for the project from the Institute’s partners in the wine industry. Schematic Design has been completed, and we’ll be moving into the next phases of design shortly. We’re fortunate to have Summit Engineering on our team, who also happens to be one of the premier winery engineers in Northern California.
It’s incredibly fulfilling to be part of a program that will educate and train the next generation of wine business professionals and entrepreneurs. While TLCD Architecture’s work extends throughout Northern California, we have been in business here in Sonoma County for 50 years. Contributing to our community, quality education and a thriving business culture is important to us.
Wine education is not all about classes, research and training. It’s also about immersing ourselves in the culture of wine and having some “serious fun.” We recently teamed with our friends at Summit Engineering for a showdown at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair “World Championship Grape Stomp” competition. Celebrating its 41st year, the Harvest Fair celebrates Sonoma County’s harvest by honoring world-class wine, beer and culinary creations.
Click the video below to see the TLCD Architecture/Summit Engineering Grape Stomp Showdown!
More articles about the Wine Spectator Learning Center
On a warm fall weekend in wine country, the ultimate grape showdown took place between two Santa Rosa firms. TLCD Architecture challenged Summit Engineering to compete in the annual Harvest Fair Grape Stomp for bragging rights about who can generate the most juice in under 3 minutes.
Two teams from each firm prepared for this event by enduring a rigorous training regiment… mainly developing our core strength from laughing so hard. It turns out there is a real finesse to grape stomping as we learned the intricacies of being the “Stomper” or the “Swabby.” Foot size does not matter if you are the Stomper, it’s much more about the swirl and kick technique to move the juice towards the spout. The Swabby role benefitted from laser sharp focus and unusually long arms to funnel the grape juice into the jug.
While the teams from TLCD and Summit did not win the heat that day, we had a respectable amount of “wine juice weight” and went home proud. Purple feet and hands, a trophy t-shirt and the following video mark this historic showdown.
What a great name for an event! When I saw the flier float around our office I immediatly grabbed it and knew I would have to roll. TLCD Architecture and many others were invited to join the annual ride to a nearby town of Sebastopol for a destination of good conversations, food and the celebration of bikes..and Beer.
Personally I’d never been to “Hopmonk”, but what a cool venue. We were greeted with ample bike parking for the whole group and a nice laid back outdoor seating area with a great draft list with many local micro’s. Fellow riders from ZFA and I were grubbing down on pulled pork sandwiches and the favorite 4 pack taco platter…amazing! According to local lore they have music there pretty regularly and I could see it being a pretty fun time. Living in Sonoma County (one of the worlds greatest bike and beer destinations) this local gathering was a great reminder of how lucky I am to get to enjoy this place from the speed and freedom of a bike. On the trip back to Santa Rosa, the ZFA crew kicked it into hyper speed as TLCD tried to keep up with the sprint… https://www.strava.com/segments/10029921/embed Not realizing I was riding with world class riders I now know that I will have to train for next year’s event, and hopefully grab a few notches higher on the list of riders. I will definitely be looking forward to next year’s ride, and thank you ZFA engineering for getting everyone together to enjoy our amazing place to live and work.
By Don Tomasi AIA, Principal
In today’s world it’s rare to stay at any one company for an entire career, so its remarkable that in recent months, 3 of us have celebrated our 30th anniversaries with TLCD Architecture. It’s with great excitement that we celebrate the 30th work anniversary of my friend and partner Alan Butler.
Although we didn’t know each other at the time, Alan was working in Seattle in the summer of 1984, and I was living just 4 blocks away – on the same street! We both moved from Seattle to competing architectural firms in Santa Rosa within a year of each other, our offices just blocks apart – you guessed it, on the same street! Alan began work at Lawry Coker DeSilva Architects (LCD) as its 7th employee. But it was another several years before we met. (For the record, we now work in the same office, but live 14 blocks apart – on different streets!)
In 1993 the two firms merged to form Tomasi Lawry Coker DeSilva Architects later to become TLCD Architecture. Alan had become a partner of the firm and was leading the first phase of the Santa Rosa Junior College new Petaluma Campus. Alan’s experience on the SRJC Petaluma campus project and his longstanding interest in higher education helped determine the direction of his career, and he established community college projects as a major part of our firm’s practice.
Alan was responsible for the firm’s first breakthrough project, the new Frank P. Doyle Library at SRJC’s main Santa Rosa campus. Realizing that TLCD Architecture’s best chance of being selected for this project was a strategic alliance with a larger firm, Alan traveled to Boston to explore a relationship with Shepley Bulfinch. Through Alan’s efforts, TLCD and Shepley Bulfinch were awarded the project. As TLCD’s highest profile project at that time, it was instrumental in launching TLCD as a premier architectural firm in the region. With Doyle Library, Alan’s longstanding interest in libraries blossomed into a true passion, leading to several other community college libraries. Alan has authored 2 books on the topic of academic library design, first Touring Libraries and more recently, Experiencing Libraries.
As a Principal of the firm Alan quickly demonstrated his leadership abilities, assuming many office management responsibilities. Over the majority of our 22 years working together Alan and I have shared the bulk of management duties, picking up the slack from the other as our other responsibilities required. The dynamic of our working relationship could best be described as “intuitive”, though I am pleased to note that we do not (usually) complete each other’s sentences!
It has been a rewarding 22 years, and we’ve had a great time working together. With the help of the incredibly talented people we work with, together we have had the opportunity to oversee the impressive evolution of our firm into something quite remarkable.
By Brian C. Wright, Principal | Project Manager
We live in earthquake country and for most Northern Californians’ the possibility of a major earthquake is etched into our consciousness. When the Napa Earthquake struck last August, the 6.0 magnitude quake made national headlines. Images of damaged downtown buildings, wine barrels collapsed into piles and homes leaning sideways were everywhere on the media.
For those of us with friends and family in Napa County, our first reaction was to make sure everyone was safe and to offer our help. I grew up in Napa and the recovery effort began on a personal note for me. Within hours of the earthquake, my sister and I were cleaning up damage and debris at our 94 year-old father’s home. Even without structural damage, it was amazing to see how devastating an event like this can be. There was overturned furniture, dislodged doors, contents literally thrown out of the refrigerator, and of course broken glass everywhere. One of our clients at Napa Valley College had his chimney collapse into his living room – something you don’t see everyday.
In the immediate days following the earthquake, my involvement would take a turn, as TLCD Architecture was selected to work with the County of Napa to assess and repair their damaged buildings in the downtown core. The team assembled for the earthquake repair projects was more than just a slate of companies able to perform the work. This quickly became a close-knit team that worked tirelessly to meet the constantly evolving and unforeseen issues that arose in the days and weeks following the earthquake.
In any emergency, citizens rely on County services for help and support. Many of these important functions were housed in two critical buildings that were damaged – the County’s Main Administration Building and the Carithers Building. In addition to the actual repair work, we were tasked with moving people into swing space to ensure minimal disruption of services. Fortunately, TLCD had been working with the County on a tenant improvement project for the Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA), and this large-scale campus provided the space needed to accommodate teams that were displaced. Juan Arias, the County of Napa Capital Projects Manager shared his thoughts: “The work product and flexibility shown by TLCD in program and project development for our Health and Human Services Agency has been second to none, particularly in light of the earthquake-related needs for relocation of people and departments.”
Every project we work on is a team effort with our clients, but the circumstances surrounding the Napa earthquake took this to another level. The degree of communication, coordination and oversight required to keep so many moving pieces in motion was truly extraordinary. Project Architect, Dennis Kennedy, has been with TLCD for 28 years and played an integral role throughout the scope of these projects. He summarized his experience best: “I feel very fortunate to work for a firm that values relationships and puts resources where they are most needed. My priorities for the last year were the projects for the County of Napa and I feel an immense sense of pride and accomplishment in what we’ve achieved.”
Reflecting back on this last year, the word that most encapsulates my experience is “connection“. In addition to growing up in Napa, a big portion of my career with TLCD Architecture has been focused in Napa County – from major campus bond improvements at Napa Valley College, to the historic renovation of Vintage Hall at St. Helena High School, and in recent years, our work with the County of Napa. When this disaster struck last August, the quality relationships we had formed with the County were only made stronger through the rebuilding process. The entire project team has connected on a deeper level because we came together to do the right thing. We also learned many lessons, which we will share with our existing and future clients. The biggest take-away is the value of implementing current codes that require proper bracing of ceiling systems, ductwork, piping and even furniture systems. For more technical information TLCD’s work on the County Buildings, click here.
The healthcare landscape is always changing as providers evolve the framework for care and adjust capital plans to maximize shifting reimbursement models, stay current with medical technology and respond to shifting political priorities and societal demands. In recent years, the Affordable Care Act and the cry for improved mental healthcare services have pushed the industry to increase outpatient primary care and mental health capacities. This trend is leading some in the industry to cast away old notions and stigma – and seize the opportunity to make mental health an integral part of primary healthcare.
In a recent design competition, TLCD Architecture explored how the fusion of mental health and primary care could be supported in the built environment. The resulting outpatient campus brings primary care and mental health together in a unified, community-focused design while addressing privacy and security concerns. The concept of total patient wellbeing begins with easy access for patients and incorporates healthy opportunities of exercise, farmers markets, community activities, health education and medical care. Giving people a reason to visit the site on a regular basis for everyday activities serves to promote health and wellbeing.
During the design process TLCD Architecture used our own healthcare experience that includes recent work on acute and outpatient mental health facilities, as well as assembling a team of designers, planners and engineers with diverse backgrounds to bring fresh perspectives to the discussion. We also used the growing body of research that brings these ideas into focus and provides motivation for healthcare providers to integrate primary care and mental health services that result in improved patient care, financial efficiencies and increased marketplace appeal.
As designers, TLCD Architecture believes that it’s our responsibility to bring design and operational innovations and new thinking to our clients so they are well informed as they make decisions that shape the future of healthcare.
For more information visit these resources.
World Health Organization
That’s a rhetorical question because you can never have too many architects helping out at their local food bank. TLCD Architecture had a team volunteer at the Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) last Friday and it was both gratifying and a great team building exercise. A staff member gave us a tour before we settled in to pack food. Within 90 minutes we had packaged and loaded nearly 5 palettes of food boxes. Anyone remember the “I Love Lucy” episode where the assembly line items are flying by? It felt that way at first, but we got the hang of it!
We heard that the facility needs 1200 volunteers each month to get food processed and packaged, so we will definitely be back.
Quick update to the recent blog post on the AIA Redwood Empire volunteer day for Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County. What I didn’t mention is that we brought the GoPro camera and had a little fun capturing our work. You’ve heard of the “birds-eye” view, we thought strapping the camera to a shovel would add an interesting perspective!
Each year, the Board of Directors of the AIA Redwood Empire (AIARE) gathers for a retreat to strategize and plan for the coming year. This year as the current AIARE President, I organized the retreat that was held at the new Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) facility in Santa Rosa. In addition to supporting and partnering with an essential community assistance organization by renting the REFB boardroom for the day, the AIARE board members were also able to take time during the retreat to do some volunteer work in the warehouse. Our group enthusiastically worked on sorting carrots from a pair of 1,700 pound palettes into 3 pound bags to get them ready for distribution to families in need.
After volunteering, the AIARE board members were led on a tour of the facility by the architect, Julie Jackson, AIA of Jackson Liles Architecture in San Francisco, and by a former President of the REFB Board of Directors, Alan Butler, AIA of TLCD Architecture. Alan was board member of the REFB at a time when they had outgrown their old facility. Alan helped write the program for the innovative new facility after touring a number of food banks across the country to see what worked and what didn’t. As a result, the new facility includes elements that do more than just store and distribute food, like a small market for low income customers and a commercial kitchen that supports new programs like “upcycling” bulk foods, and culinary education for the community.
The REFB is the food distribution hub for over 175 food related non-profits and distributes almost 14 million pound of food to the region each year. They offer their conference facilities at a very reasonable rate to non-profits in order to expose their operation to a wider audience. Check out the REFB if your non-profit needs a meeting space!
The votes are in and once again TLCD Architecture has been voted a Best Places to Work by our team! The annual North Bay Business Journal survey highlights local firms that have great workplaces. TLCD has no shortage of good times, professional fulfillment and camaraderie to share. This is a team that enjoys working collaboratively during office hours, as well as playing well together after hours.
This blog was launched 5 years ago with a goal to talk about our company culture, feature interesting updates on our projects and engage in a conversation about the practice of architecture. We hope it shows the world a little about ourselves and what makes TLCD a great place to work!
From outdated library (view spectacular new Library here: Mendocino College LLRC) to the Lowery Student Center this project shows how an existing building can be repurposed for additional important functions. Since the new library location would essentially displace all existing student center functions on campus (bookstore, student lounge and café / dining) it was decided that the old library location would be a perfect fit for their relocation. To this end Midstate Construction deftly handled the idiosyncrasies of working in an older building.
By opening the western wall of the building a dramatic entry element was realized. Entering the main gathering space, campus users can easily navigate between the student lounge (complete with pool table and gaming devices), bookstore, or the greatly expanded Schat’s Café and dining area. This is a great place to get morning coffee, a Danish, and maybe finish the homework in a relaxed setting! The light filled spaces are accented with warm, rich recycled redwood paneling by Viridian.
It was also a great opportunity to consolidate all of these functions around a wonderful new courtyard. The courtyard now serves large campus gatherings and student activities. In a time where campuses find it hard to persuade students to stay on campus, beyond class time, this consolidation / modernization is sure to help on this campus.