Santa Rosa’s Evolving City Center

Santa Rosa Courthouse Square, Downtown Revitalization, City Center

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. Old Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa, TLCD Architecture, Reunification of Courthouse SquareSeveral 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!

City of Santa Rosa, Downtown Station Area Specific Plan, 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.

TLCD Architecture’s Chair Parade Signals Move to New Office

TLCD Architecture, Downtown Santa Rosa, Urban Office SpaceFriday brought cloudy skies and rain, but it certainly didn’t dampen spirits as TLCD Architecture moved to our new office just two blocks down Santa Rosa Avenue. Why have movers pack up your chairs, when you can roll them over – umbrellas and all! This symbolic move signifies a nearly decade-long process to renovate an abandoned building in downtown Santa Rosa and turn it into a vibrant, mixed-use project. The Press Democrat captured the essence of this move in this article that appeared over the weekend “Tenants Move Into New Office in Santa Rosa’s Former AT&T Building”.

The exterior transformation of the building is very apparent, but the space inside is simply amazing. With 16′ high ceilings, raw concrete walls, and sleek lines, the office feels urban and very hip. As architects, designing your own office space comes with no shortage of ideas for work environment, furniture and finishes. We’ll post more about our new office design in coming weeks… but for today, it feels great to settle in and begin work in our new digs!

TLCD Announced as Architect for Wine Spectator Learning Center

Wine Business Institute, Sonoma State University, TLCD Architecture, Hospitality Classroom

Sonoma State University announced today that TLCD Architecture and BNBT Builders will partner on the design and construction of the Wine Spectator Learning Center in Rohnert Park.

“As the educational nucleus of a thriving regional economy, it was important to us to engage local professionals on this project. We decided after a lengthy review of top quality firms that TLCD and BNBT have the right combination of skill and experience. Over the coming months, a cutting-edge facility will take shape on campus, designed and built to provide the University community a teaching and learning environment that meets its demands and exceeds expectations as one of California’s leading institutions of higher education,” Dr. William Silver, Dean of the School of Business and Economics said.

TLCD Architecture has been working with the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State since early 2014 to bring high level design visualizations to the fundraising effort and is thrilled to continue as the architect for this project.

“It’s a real privilege to be involved in such an innovative project.  Sonoma State University and the Wine Business Institute have taken a very sustainable approach by revitalizing one of the original campus buildings. We believe the transformation will be truly stunning, and provide a perfect home for this forward-thinking regional and international program,” Brian Wright, Principal at TLCD Architecture said. 

Bent Origami Panels Going Up on Museum on the Square

TLCD Architecture, Museum on the Square, Santa Rosa, Urban Infill Project, Perforated Metal Panels, Origami, B.T. Mancini Company, McNichols

When you think of origami, images of delicate and intricately folded paper comes to mind. TLCD takes origami one giant step further with the installation of a key exterior feature on the Museum on the Square project in downtown Santa Rosa. Perforated metal panels are being installed on the north side of the building to create a “veil” for the raw concrete facade. Typically perforated panels are installed as flat sheets, but TLCD Architecture worked with B.T. Mancini Company to custom fabricate panels manufactured by McNichols. The panels are then bent to form a unique sculptural pattern much like folded origami. The panels also serve a practical function as sunshades for the building. The panels are angled toward nearby Courthouse Square in acknowledgment of the downtown’s main urban space. The north side of the building was covered during much of the early construction and for the last several months work was focused on the exterior glass. When the metal panels began going up it created some buzz, but this week’s installation of the bent panels is literally turning heads. Check out what’s going on at 3rd Street and Santa Rosa Avenue!

Who’s Up for a Field Trip… to American AgCredit?

Architecture firms are all about field trips… and often they are tours of our projects under construction. This week, TLCD’s staff got out for a tour of the American AgCredit Headquarters project in Santa Rosa. This landmark 120,000 square foot project is nearing completion with portions of the building to be occupied within a few weeks. It was a great opportunity to tour it and see how many of the key features are taking shape. In the photo above, our team is looking at the rammed earth feature wall which was built early in construction. It was encased in a wooden structure for protection, and then the building was constructed around it. The wall is a stunning reference to the soil that makes agriculture possible and supports American AgCredit’s mission of farm lending.

American AgCredit Headquarters, TLCD Architecture, Zinc Cladding, Santa Rosa Construction Project

American AgCredit Headquarters, TLCD Architecture, Zinc Cladding, Santa Rosa Construction Project











One of many exciting design elements will be perforated zinc exterior cladding, which is only now beginning to be installed. Over the next few months these zinc panels will completely transform the appearance of the building. Not only will they visually define the facade, the panels will also provide sunshading that will significantly reduce the cost of cooling the building.

On the second floor, we walked one of the sky bridges with a feature wall of channel glass. From the outside, the glass provides a distinctive entry element, but from the inside, it creates wonderful, diffused lighting for what will be a casual work area for the employees of American AgCredit. This sky bridge will have soft lighting to one side and clear views to the inner courtyard on the other side.

Throughout the tour we did what most architects do… looked up, looked down, looked all around. These tours are a learning process for the entire staff and also expose us to ideas, materials and solutions we can use on other projects.

Game On… Architectural Renderings Go Interactive

Angel the Office Dog, TLCD Architecture, Virtual Reality RenderingNick Diggins, Designer 

Architecture is a complex process that is integrated with massive amounts of information requiring coordination between many parties. We use software specifically developed for this type of information management (BIM), but what’s so interesting is all this information is imbedded in a digital 3D model. We are constantly finding new ways to use and extract this information throughout the design process.

The current hot trend in design visualizations is the integration of virtual reality (VR) rendering into the Revit (BIM) workflow. I’ve had a lot of fun sharing this new type of presentation with clients, staff, friends – even Angel our office dog tried it out using Google Cardboard. After showing my 9-year old son this cool technology, which literally puts the viewer in the space, I realized it’s already out of date when he said, “Dad, all you can do is look around.” It hit me that the future is here. His generation will be expecting software that enables true interactive immersion. What if we, as architects, can design workflows that allow the user to interact with a space while it’s still in development – much the same way we build physical models to critique and explore ideas?

A physical model has always been an easier tool for sharing ideas than technical drawings. A model isn’t static – you can pick it up, rotate it, move around it, and feel what the idea is in a physical solution. Models are the universal language of design and they help us understand the concept of three-dimensional problem solving. In the digital landscape it’s quickly changing how we share ideas with each other and our clients.

TLCD’s culture is very supportive of testing new software. If you follow trends in new techniques of rendering and architectural visualizations, you may have seen some examples of interactive environments taking off recently. There are many resources for starting this workflow and one that we’ve been testing recently is Unreal Engine 4. We took this software for a test drive and modeled our new office space. Rather than strapping on VR goggles, our staff can walk through our new office and experience it from the comfort of their own computer monitor (view video above).

On the more technical side, how does this type of software change our current workflow? For a current static rendering like the one shown in the first part of the video, we can prime a digital model for rendering pretty quickly. Using the power of our render farm, we usually run 80 cores (CPU’s) resulting in one render after a few hours. Not too bad considering we used to wait days for the same output only a few years ago.

Now if you want video, you are looking at a lot of time and resources to develop an in-house animation that is usually under a minute in length. At the end of multiple days of work you have an amazing video to share with clients and others (and everyone loves movies, right?) That thirty-second video loses its sparkle when you realize that you need to change something in the design as a result of meeting comments. Usually you can’t re-render a whole walkthrough because of tight schedules – but what if you could? What if it was just a part of the standard workflow and you could render the space and were allowed to change views or make a movie within minutes?

Why not turn the scripted walkthrough into a “game” and let someone else walk around and experience it in real time! This is the direction we are headed at TLCD… and virtual reality is just fuel to the fire. Integrating the visual experience with a physical/digital experience is so exciting to us as architects because we are integrating it into our early designs as a linkable workflow. Immersing yourself deeper into an environment is an architectural experience beyond the average visual.

Learning to craft a visualization to create an interactive experience is the new art of rendering. Video game developers have been doing this for years and the most current digital environments are so immersive it almost feels real. This way of sharing a design brings in thoughts of simple actions infused with realism – like adding sounds of the city when you open a door. We see so many possibilities for this in the near future. Imagine an environment that allows end users to experience the space and use it as a learning tool with interactive virtual diagrams.

Our goal is to integrate this software into our designs to create new modes of integrated thinking for clients who are looking for innovation and value for their project. At the moment, we are only designing buildings, but soon we might be creating worlds! This is too much fun to be had all alone, come join us!

Angel the Office Dog, Nick Diggins Designer, TLCD ArchitectureNo animals… or architects were harmed in the making of this blog post. Most days Angel can be found at our office brightening people’s days while stopping by their desk for a treat or pat on the head. Nick can be found any number of places…job sites, his work station, client meetings, or low crawling to sneak up on his unsuspecting coworkers!

Milestone Celebration for American AgCredit Headquarters

TLCD hosted and toasted the American AgCredit furniture selection team yesterday on the occasion of completing the ancillary furniture specifications for their Santa Rosa Headquarters Building.  Homemade peach pie and local Sonoma County champagne were savored amidst a colorful disarray of fabric samples and drawings.

After 18 months of furniture research and evaluation, the accomplishment of this major milestone was cause for celebration.  The TLCD Interiors team is excited about being one step closer to the December 2015 completion date and seeing all the interior spaces come to life.

The ancillary package being ordered through RDI includes over 800 pieces of furniture for conference rooms, collaborative spaces, break rooms and outdoor spaces.

Cheers to a great team effort!

(For more information on the American AgCredit project, check out previous blog posts here, here, here and here.)

Design Competition Fuses Primary Care and Mental Health Services

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.

tlcd architecture, healthcare design, integrating primary cary and mental health, jason brabo, design competition

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.

tlcd architecture, healthcare design, integrating primary cary and mental health, jason brabo, design competition, outdoor plaza, food trucks, kid play areas, indoor outdoor stair

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.

Integrated Behavioral Health Project

Behavioral Healthcare

Article: More ACOs Look to Behavioral Health

World Health Organization

Report: Integrating mental health into primary care: a global perspective 

tlcd architecture, healthcare design, integrating primary cary and mental health, jason brabo, design competition, outdoor plaza, food trucks, kid play areas, indoor outdoor stair

Windows on the Square

After many months of sawing, grinding, dust and demolition, the scaffolding for the Museum on the Square project in downtown Santa Rosa came down today revealing a new presence for the repurposed AT&T telephone switching building. Soon to be followed by a new perforated metal skin, todays unveiling shows the possibilities for an engaging new architectural presence on the square.

This week also saw the beginning of the tenant improvements for Luther Burbank Saving’s new headquarters on the fourth and fifth floor of the building. A construction elevator has been erected on the south face of the building and job boxes for the subcontractors were being hoisted by crane to the upper floors.

See the Press Democrat Article here

TLCD’s first LEED Certified project!

Carl Servais AIA

The construction of Solano College Building 600 was completed last December and we recently received news that the project has been awarded enough points to achieve the level of Certified under LEED 2009 for New Construction and Major Renovations (LEED-NC), making it the first TLCD project to officially achieve LEED certification!

Solano College Board Room

TLCD Architecture was hired as a consultant to Architect-of-Record, Henley Architects + Associates (now A2R Architects) to work throughout the design and construction process of Building 600, a 13,837sf addition and remodel project at Solano College in Fairfield, CA.  The project includes bright new office space for the Solano College Administration and a wonderful new Board Room addition with high ceilings and a curved transom window that provides daylight across the beautifully crafted Cherry wood dais.


Some of the green features of this LEED Certified project include:

  • High-efficiency HVAC system, designed and built by Peterson Mechanical out of Sonoma, CA.
  • High-efficiency LED lighting, designed and built by Sac Valley Electric out of Sacramento, CA.
  • A new high-reflectivity, Energy Star certified TPO roof over new rigid insulation.
  • New insulation at all existing concrete exterior walls that, combined with other energy efficiency measures, pushed the design to perform almost 10% better than California’s already strict Title 24 Energy Code.
  • Tubular Skylights from Solatube that provide natural daylight into open office spaces and corridors in the building that would otherwise have very little access to daylight due to the small amount of windows in the existing exterior. Even during construction, the contractor could work in the sky lit spaces without any electric lights turned on.

As the Project Architect for Building 600, I have to give special thanks to Green Build Energy Group, the LEED consultant who helped guide the team across the finish line, and DPR Construction, the general contractor who built the project with an extraordinary level of care and quality.  This project had a lot of budget and schedule constraints, which made LEED Certification an immensely difficult task that could only have been achieved by the wonderfully collaborative effort of everyone involved.

LEED, an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building certification program created by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) in 1998 to recognize buildings that take extraordinary measures towards sustainability in the areas of energy and water efficiency, material and resource efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and site design.  Sustainable design is an important part of all the work we do, and we have several projects that are currently pursuing LEED certification, so we know that Building 600 will be the first of many LEED certified projects at TLCD.


Look Who’s Talking: Congress Visits the New American AgCredit Headquarters!

The new 120,000 sf American AgCredit Headquarters project by TLCD Architecture is attracting a lot of attention! Last week Congressmen Mike Thompson and Jared Huffman toured the project along with about 20 folks from the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau, led by its Executive Director Ken Fischang. American AgCredit will offer approximately 40,000 sf of lease space, and the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau will move their offices to this new space.

tlcd architecture, american agcredit headquarters building, sonoma county airport, architecture, design

On the heels of the visit by our local Congressmen, TLCD staff took a tour of this amazing project this week. We walked up the temporary stairs to the 3rd floor to explore the Board Room and adjacent outdoor deck. We then checked out the 3rd floor “skybridge”, and saw where the roof walk is being installed. The roof walk will connect the two 3-story portions of the building, and will provide seating with views into the courtyard. It was a beautiful day, and we were able to admire the 360-degree views to nearby hills including Mt. St. Helena.

We also examined the mockup of the building’s perforated zinc cladding. This custom designed cladding system will be installed about 3 feet beyond the building exterior to provide shading, which in turn will greatly reduce the cost to cool what is already a highly energy efficient building. TLCD designed the cladding system with built-in pockets that will hide randomly spaced vertical LED lights around the perimeter of the building. At night these lights will be connected to a computer controller that will provide a randomly changing pattern of lights that will slowly fade on and off, creating ever-changing patterns.



West Valley College Entry Project: More Than Just Signs

Replacing entry signage and more than an acre of gopher infested turf at West Valley College in Saratoga seems most appropriate given Governor Brown’s recent statewide mandate for a 25% cut in water use. This project was conceived to highlight the identity of West Valley College on the main approach to campus. It also aimed to replace the turf with drought resistant plantings. The project, led by TLCD Architecture ultimately added a few more unexpected and interesting elements.

The signs themselves are bold new statements of West Valley College’s identity and take a fresh approach to the campus’ existing trademark logo. Designer Dickson Keyser of the GNU Group created sculptural leaf elements that stand out from the body of the three new signs and add animation to the ensemble. The 60 foot long main sign and the two electronic reader boards are made of self-healing Cor-Ten steel and merge seamlessly with the drought tolerant landscaping and the storm water recharge basin at the base of the site.

West Valley College, Entry Project, TLCD Architecture, Oak Nursery, Historic Palm, Signage, Drought TolerantThe West Valley Campus is centered on a meandering creek lined with stunning, mature oak trees. Many of these trees have reached the end of their life cycle and are dying off. At the top of the Entry Project, Quadriga Landscape Architecture established an “Oak Nursery”. Over time this nursery will provide stock to replant the deceased trees, keeping the oak lined central spaces of campus vibrant and alive.

Two historic palms were relocated from the location of the original farmhouse that preceded the college, when the site was orchard lands. They have been moved from an unnoticed location in the middle of a parking lot to create a fresh reminder of the history of the land.

The two reader boards are intended to announce campus events. WVC Director of Communications and Technology, Scott Ludwig, has programmed them with inspiring words that rotate on ten-minute cycles. Scott told me yesterday that students now walk up to him a spontaneously exclaim “Collaborate!” or other words of the moment, taking their cues from the reader boards.

The campus and nearby community has taken notice of the change and is appreciative of the dynamism of the statement. Over time, as they discover the other elements, it will become an even richer experience.

West Valley College Entry
“Before” view of West Valley College Entry
West Valley College, Entry Project, TLCD Architecture, Oak Nursery, Historic Palm, Signage, Drought Tolerant
“After” view of West Valley College Entry

Academic Center at College of Marin Nears Final Completion

The new Academic Center at College of Marin, designed by TLCD Architecture and Mark Cavagnero Associates, is rapidly reaching the final stages of construction. Prominently situated on the corner of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and College Avenue, the splendid combination of massing, materials, and craftsmanship is becoming visible as the scaffolding gradually disappears.

college of marin, new academic center, tlcd architecture, mark cavagnero associates, new constructionOne of the unique features of the building is the grand atrium space, which with the finishes installed, is now showing off wonderful qualities of natural light. The building is expected to be completed in May, with full occupancy by the College in time for the Fall Semester. The project will signal the successful completion of the District’s Measure C Bond program, approved by local voters in 2004.

Birds-Eye View of New American AgCredit Headquarters at Airport Business Center

Recent aerial photographs show the new American AgCredit headquarters building taking form at the Airport Business Center in Santa Rosa. The project, designed by TLCD Architecture clearly show how the two buildings that comprise this 120,000 square foot complex wrap around to enclose a central courtyard, and how the buildings are connected by pedestrian bridges at each end.

Read other posts about the American AgCredit project:

Building Design Reveal

Groundbreaking Ceremony

Rammed Earth Wall Feature



Rapid Prototyping: Captured on Video

This was the perfect project to take a test drive of Autodesk’s Dynamo for Revit and see what we could do.  Dynamo is a new, exciting, visual programming software that is similar to Grasshopper for Rhino.  We are actively beginning our exploration into computational design, and have already begun to see its benefits as we integrate Dynamo into TLCD’s BIM design process.  In this quick exercise we were able to quickly develop eight different iterations from our design. Don’t miss the video and take a peek of us creating an addicting, generative design solution to share and discuss with the entire office and friends!

Check out an earlier blog post from December that started this conversation.  Rapid Prototyping: Exploring Multiple Design Options


Rammed Earth Wall Rises at TLCD Project

Of particular note, soils were collected from various geographic areas from across the western United States serviced by American AgCredit. The colors of these soil samples were then matched to soils of the particular consistency necessary to provide the structural integrity required. This prominent wall will reflect the diverse geography serviced by the company, which makes loans for agriculture. It also reflects the fact that soil, along with sun and water, is one of the key components of agriculture.

We all look forward to seeing the results; waiting until next year is going to require patience!

Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State Receives $3 Million Gift

Sonoma State University, Wine Business Institute, TLCD Architecture RenderingThe press was lighting up this week at the news of a $3 million donation for the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. The transformation of the former University Commons building to the home of the 16 year-old wine program is being supported through generous gifts from key partners in the wine industry such as Marvin Shanken of the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation.

TLCD Architecture is pleased to be working with Sonoma State on designs for the Wine Institute and we have enjoyed the opportunity to help create an innovative and collaborative learning center that will support wine business education, both locally and internationally. Look for future updates as this exciting project moves forward!

Read full article in North Bay Business Journal

Read full article in Press Democrat

wine business institute, sonoma state university, tlcd architecture rendering



It Takes a Team to Skin a Hospital

TLCD Architecture, Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa, Hospital Reclad, Models

The exterior of the existing Kaiser Santa Rosa Hospital, built in the early 1990s was showing the signs of age and was in need of replacement. TLCD Architecture and Swinerton Builders worked together to replace the exterior building skin with a new composite metal panel system. The project not only provided a solution to a deteriorated exterior, it also reinterpreted the original architecture into a contemporary building. The meticulous installation of the composite metal panels was an important aspect of the design and worked with the complexity of the existing building geometry to modernize the identity of the building and campus. The use of virtual models, physical models and on site mock-ups made the precise installation possible and turned the design intent into reality.

The project needed to be constructed in phases to allow the hospital to remain fully operational throughout construction. The design and construction team worked together with the facility to develop construction sequencing and installation strategies that evolved throughout construction to minimize disruptions to the facility and keep them operational.

TLCD Architecture, Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa, Hospital RelcadTLCD Architecture, Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa, Hospital Reclad

It was an amazing process to be a part of and the successful results speak to the teamwork involved to “Skin the Hospital”! Check out this video put together by Swinerton Builders for more on the project.

Museum on the Square: Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light)


museum on the square, TLCD Architecture, Hugh Futrell Corporation, Construction Update, Santa Rosa
Views to Taylor Mountain from 5th Floor of Museum on the Square

This morning the upper floors of Museum on the Square were flooded with light as the first exterior concrete panels were removed. Saws with blades as large as 36 inches in diameter sliced through concrete panels weighing upwards of 22,000 pounds each. A large crane then gently lifted the panels to the ground where they will be broken apart and recycled.

A total of 9 concrete panels were removed today, about one third of the total panels that will be removed during the course of construction on this project designed by TLCD Architecture.

Exterior demolition continues on the opposite, Courthouse Square side of the building where exterior precast panels are being removed by jackhammer prior to the removal of the structural concrete walls. On the interior, portions of the concrete floor slabs are being removed to accommodate new elevators and stairs.

The changes to the interior space are going to be dramatic as natural daylight visits this building for the first time!

Buzz of Construction Activity at Museum on the Square

AT&T Building, Museum on the Square, TLCD Architecture, Hugh Futrell Corporation Construction activity moved outside this week as crews from Richmond-based C. Hammond Construction began taking down some of the exterior facade on the former AT&T Building in downtown Santa Rosa. On the 3rd Street side of the building, another crew put up a maze of scaffolding in preparation for the removal of the precast concrete panels.

Located at the crossroads of Santa Rosa Avenue and and 3rd Street, this highly visible project will be a literal buzz of activity over the coming weeks and months. Teams from TLCD Architecture will be seen in and about the building throughout construction as we begin the transformation to the new Museum on the Square mixed-use project.

Stay tuned for more updates!


IIDA Northern California Honors TLCD at 2014 Awards Gala

At an evening ceremony held on March 19th, TLCD Architecture received an Honor Award from IIDA Northern California for the interior design of the Mendocino College Lake Center. The annual event, held at the beautiful Fox Theater in downtown Oakland, celebrates the very best in interior design. Nate Bisbee, Suzanne Nagorka and Domenica Sheets were present from our office and enthusiastically received the award in front of a packed house.

“We are so pleased that the IIDA jury chose to recognize the modestly-scaled project in Lake County as one of this year’s recipients. The new Lake Center Campus is the result of a 4-year long collaboration with Mendocino College staff and faculty. We could not be happier with the outcome! For our team of collaborators, this honor is a great way to recognize the tireless efforts of those who made the project a reality. We hope you appreciate the palette of simple, natural materials and the genuine care we put into the details,” said Nate Bisbee, lead Architect and Designer.

In 2013, TLCD Architecture received the IIDA NC Honor Award for the DeTurk RoundBarn. Back-to-back wins have us feeling well-loved!



Museum on the Square: Santa Rosa Revitalization Project to Begin Construction

TLCD Architecture, Santa Rosa, California, Museum on the Square, Construction UpdateTLCD Architecture just learned that the project loan for Museum on the Square has been approved and that construction of this high profile downtown Santa Rosa project will commence immediately. The team at TLCD Architecture wasted no time in celebrating the news today with sparkling wine!

The idea for Museum on the Square began in July 2008 when TLCD Architecture decided to pursue the prospect of renovating the building to house, among other tenants, our own offices. The Hugh Futrell Corporation formed a project team to develop the building, and nearly 6 tumultuous years later, TLCD is within a year of taking occupancy of the 3rd floor.

Construction of Museum on the Square will begin Monday, March 24th, with completion and occupancy slated for early next year… just in time for TLCD’s 50th anniversary! Museum on the Square will be the first large-scale construction project in the heart of Santa Rosa’s downtown in nearly 2 decades and will play a significant role in the revitalization of Courthouse Square. Luther Burbank Savings, a local lending institution will occupy the 4th and 5th floors, and a restaurant and The California Wine Museum will anchor the lower street level.

TLCD will continue to post updates on this exciting project as construction and interior renovations progress!

museum on the square, TLCD Architecture, Santa Rosa, California, Luther Burbank Savings, California Wine Museum

Rainwater Harvesting; What’s the Payback?

rainwater harvesting, tanks, drought
Two Slimline tanks that will hold 1,060 Gallons of rainwater.

By Alan Butler AIA

This weekend I installed a thousand gallons of rainwater storage tanks in my side yard. I found some very nice Bushman Slimline tanks that are only 25” wide, fit neatly in my side yard, and still allow me to get by with the trashcans and the wheelbarrow. They collect roughly half of the water from my roof, and with a thousand square feet of roof area I can fill the tanks with 1 3/4 “ of rain.  They were a fair amount of work to move around – weighing nearly 300 pounds apiece and being seven feet long and six and a half feet tall, it was a real trick for three of us to unload them. Once we pushed the tanks into place, I installed piping that led from the gutters to the tanks. With piping complete and a light rain on Sunday, I finally heard the satisfying sound of the rainwater flowing into the tanks.

While installing the tanks, one of my neighbors walked by and we started talking about the concept of payback. As with my home, he installed photovoltaic panels on his roof a couple of years ago. He related the story of attending an informational meeting about solar panels just before he put in his system. One member of the audience kept asking: “But what’s the payback?.” He related to me that while a friend of his bought a new Mercedes for $50,000 that same year, he bought a new Prius and his solar panel system. Nobody asked his friend what the payback was on his new Mercedes!  My neighbor’s electric bills have dropped dramatically and in approximately seven to ten years the system will have paid for itself. He said even with economic facts in play, it was equally or more important for him to do the right thing. I won’t go into the whole argument about renewable energy, carbon dioxide and our current unsettled weather.

I looked at my utility bill for the first time in detail on Sunday evening.  I found that our household uses three to five thousand gallons a month during a normal rainy winter and an astonishing twenty-five thousand gallons a month during the warmest part of the year. A thousand gallons of water probably costs only $15 when you look at all the flat fees and related sewer charges.  If we have a really rainy spring and I’m diligent about using my harvested rainwater, my payback for the tanks might be fifteen rather than thirty years. Not a really compelling economic argument but…

I’ve already become a more conscientious consumer as the result of reading my bills carefully for the first time. My bills will likely drop as result. If we have a severe drought and have to cut back or eliminate landscape watering, I’ll be able to keep my lemon trees and vegetable garden going this summer. Unlike the luxury car, it really will pay back in both economic and less tangible, but significant ways. I feel like I’ve made the right decision.  I’ll stick with my Toyota Hybrid too!

Healthcare Design Conference Highlights

The annual Healthcare Design Conference was held in Orlando Florida this year, and  is put on by the Healthcare Design Magazine and The Center for Health Design.  As an attendee of the four-day conference I came away with inspiration, information and invigoration. In addition to the exceptional facility tours, educational sessions, roundtable discussions and networking events, the keynote speakers stood out as the highlight of the conference.

Debra Levin (President and CEO of the Center for Health Design) provided inspiration in her opening address and reminded everyone that we are all working toward the common goal to improve healthcare delivery. The conference was full of chatter about the  Kid President video she showed during her address.

Thomas Goetz (former Executive Editor, Wired Magazine, and Author of The Decision Tree) talked about new ideas and technologies that can mitigate failure and optimize innovation in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare infrastructure. He touched on everything from data visualization to workplace workarounds, and emphasized the opportunity everyone in the healthcare profession has to apply design thinking to their day-to-day routine.

Michael Murphy (Executive Director and Co-Founder of MASS Design Group) was the recipient of the Changemaker Award, and shared his experience  working with the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, assisting with architectural solutions to mitigate and reduce the transmission of airborne diseases like tuberculosis.

Jake Poore (President and Chief Experience Officer, Integrated Loyalty Systems and former Disney Executive) closed the conference by sharing practical examples from a 20-year Disney veteran, who is now a “human architect” driven to elevate patient experiences, how patient-driven healthcare design links directly to patient satisfaction and, consequently, the success of the healthcare organization.

Having attended several of these conferences over the years, I find myself using the information and evidence based design resources I learn about in my day to day work on projects and in discussions with clients. TLCD Architecture is a Corporate Affiliate of The Center for Health Design, and I was thrilled to participate in a focus group discussion about next years conference being held in San Diego, CA. The 2014 Healthcare Design Conference will be in an amazing venue and full of relevent evidence-based design information and is well worth attending for professions related and associated with healthcare.

American AgCredit Headquarters to Break Ground in 2014

Entry aerial_BlogMuseum on the Square, Napa Valley College’s McCarthy Library, Luther Burbank Savings’ Headquarters Branch are but a few of TLCD Architecture’s recent projects that have garnered a great deal of public attention. TLCD’s recently released design for American AgCredit’s Headquarters building follows in the rich tradition of these projects, while raising the bar.

Located in Sonoma County’s Airport Business Center, this 120,000 square foot zinc-clad landmark building will set a new standard for office buildings in the North Bay when it breaks ground in the spring of 2014. The unique building form reflects the complex shape of the site while acknowledging its important corner location.  Straight and curved forms linked by skybridges define and enclose a landscaped outdoor courtyard that is the heart of the project.

Reddish-brown perforated exterior zinc cladding is evocative of the North Bay’s rich history of wooden agricultural structures. Occasional, recessed panels will be lit at night and will be electronically controlled so that the exterior building lighting is in a constant state of change.  State-of-the-art interiors feature large reconfigurable spaces, raised access floors, and demountable partitions that represent the latest technology that will support American AgCredit’s constantly growing and evolving workplace needs. Santa Rosa’s Jim Murphy and Associates (JMA) is the general contractor.

Bold New Design Proposals by TLCD

We’ve learned that great ideas sometimes go unrealized. Nevertheless, we find tremendous value and excitement in the generative design process. With two new proposals, one for a financial institution and another for a community college, we’ve dug deep to communicate strong ideals and clear vision. Both projects are now featured on TLCD Architecture’s website.

A Financial Institution Headquarters with strong ties to Agricultural clientele, tasked our team to develop a bold new design. With a concept to connect to regional agricultural landscapes, our emphasis was on developing site strategies that integrate the building form with its landscape. Investigating the building program further we wanted to express that the new building is clearly focused on its function and does not attempt to mimic agricultural forms, rather to reflect their intrinsic values.

This stunning proposal for a Campus Gateway project includes student services, administration and outreach functions for a thriving community college, and demonstrates our passion for creating vibrant new student and community spaces. Dynamic forms carefully frame a new campus entry sequence and define a central common. Interior spaces inspire students to not just occupy, but inhabit the building and make it their own. The conceptual design aspires to welcome the larger community, connect students to learning environments, and provide unification of purpose between both campus and external constituencies.

Mendocino Transit Authority Takes Advantage of Solar Purchasing Cooperative

Final Exterior 1

TLCD Architecture’s award-winning Maintenance Facility for the Mendocino Transit Authority was designed with a “sawtooth” roof with high, north-facing windows that allow a substantial amount of daylight into the interior, while providing the ideal orientation for photovoltaic (solar) panels.  In addition to the photovoltaic panels on the roof of the building, panels were installed on shade canopies at the complex.

Gaia Energy Systems installed 18 kilowattes of SolarWorld solar panels at the complex. Mendocino Transit Authority’s 18-kW installation of SolarWorld solar panels is the first in the nation to take advantage of a new local-government solar-purchasing cooperative. The program, Helping Governments across the Country Buy (HGACBuy), allows participating local governments to reduce the cost of going solar by sharing procurement contracts, pooling technical expertise and leveraging economies of scale.

“We appreciate having access to quality American-made solar panels at attractive prices. We thought the application process was straight-forward and reasonably fast,” said Dan Baxter, general manager for MTA.

Much Anticipated Psychiatric Hospital Opens in Santa Rosa

As healthcare architects, it’s always rewarding to be a part of a team delivering quality healthcare projects and services. It’s particularly gratifying when those services enrich the lives of people in our own community. The opening of Aurora Behavioral Health Care’s Psychiatric Hospital in Santa Rosa marks the return of inpatient mental health services that have been absent from Sonoma County since 2008.

TLCD Architecture’s team worked closely with Aurora Behavioral Health Care on an extensive renovation of this 52,000 square foot facility once owned by St. Joseph Health System. With the addition of 17 new patient beds, the hospital now has a total capacity of 93 inpatient beds and will meet the much-needed demand for services for adolescents, adults and senior citizens in the North Bay.

The project required significant building infrastructure and interior improvements to meet OSHPD and California Department of Health Services standards. The result is a state-of-the art facility that includes semi-private patient rooms, self-contained nurse stations, activity rooms and a variety of outdoor exercise areas. The hospital’s interior has an overall warm color palette and comfortable contemporary furniture with an emphasis on sustainability.

TLCD Architecture was dedicated to this project and I speak for our entire team when I say we are thrilled to see it’s full realization as a place of healing for the community.

Museum on the Square Approved as 5-Story Building

TLCD Architecture Rendering of 5-story Museum on the Square

TLCD Architecture Rendering of 5-story Museum on the Square

Museum on the Square, a 10-story building designed by TLCD Architecture has been redesigned as a 5-story building. As reported in the Press Democrat, the Santa Rosa City Council on a 7-0 vote approved the revised design last evening. The 10-story building proved too difficult to finance, in part due to the current lending climate.

The project is an adaptive reuse of a 5-story telephone switching building. A dramatic north-facing curtain wall will reveal the concrete frame of the original building, and is unchanged from the original project. TLCD Architecture will call the 3rd floor home when the building opens in mid-2014. The ground floor will house the Sonoma County Museum and a restaurant. The remaining floors will be office space.

Mendocino College Receives Nearly $800,000 in Energy Rebates


The new Mendocino College Library and Learning Resource Center designed by TLCD Architecture was featured in two recent articles for exceeding standard design code by more than 20 percent. For campus wide efforts, Mendocino College received rebates totaling almost $800,000 from PG&E and the California Community College-Investor Owned Utility (CCC-IOU) partnership.

Read full article in Lake County News

Read full article in Press Democrat

Butte Regional Transit Operations Center Design Approved


TLCD Architecture’s design for the new Butte Regional Transit Operations Center in Chico, California was finalized last week. This 50,000 square foot project will provide administrative offices for the Butte County Association of Governments, along with state-of-the-art bus operational and maintenance facilities for its countywide B-Line bus system.

The project design was strongly influenced by nearby orchards and agricultural architecture. An “orchard” of trees will cover much of the site, reflecting the Almond and Walnut orchards that characterize the landscape in the surrounding area. This orchard provides shade to outdoor areas, parking, and buildings, and is a dominant visual feature. Linear plantings of shrubs and glasses recall row crops found in nearby orchards. Building forms are simple, with exterior materials that are inspired by local agricultural buildings.

This project is design to LEED Silver level. A highly efficient HVAC system design will greatly reduce summer cooling costs, and a photovoltaic array will provide most the electric power needs of the facility. Radiant floor slab heating will be used in the bus maintenance building to provide a comfortable work environment for mechanics, and displacement ventilation will be used in the project’s two administrative buildings.

This project is slated to begin construction in June of 2014 and is expected to be complete by summer of the following year.

3 TLCD Projects Receive NBBJ Top Project Awards

Mendocino College Library and Learning Resource Center
Mendocino College Library and Learning Resource Center

Last evening 3 of TLCD Architecture’s projects were recognized by the North Bay Business Journal as Top Projects in the region.  Each year the Business Journal recognizes outstanding projects in the North Bay in several categories.

Mendocino College Library and Learning Resource Center received a Top Project award in the ‘Green’ category, recognizing a project that exemplified sustainable design.  This is the second year in a row that TLCD Architecture received an award in this category.  This project features numerous “green” features including daylight harvesting, a highly efficient mechanical system, and a green (vegetated) roof.

Roseland Creek Elementary School
Roseland Creek Elementary School

Roseland Creek Elementary School, Roseland School District’s first new elementary school to be constructed in 50 years received the K-12 Education award.  This 2-story school features exceptional indoor and outdoor learning environments.  It too is a model of sustainability, and significantly outperforms stringent Title 24 requirements.

Luther Burbank Savings Headquarters Branch
Luther Burbank Savings Headquarters Branch

The winning entry in the Finance category was Luther Burbank Savings Headquarters Branch in downtown Santa Rosa, which opened for business earlier this week.  Defined by cherry colored exterior wood panels and crisp aluminum details, this highly visible project at the entry to downtown is hard to miss.

When is a Green Roof not Green?

When it’s burgundy.  And gold.  And pink and yellow and, perhaps, four or five shades of green.

Vegetated (“Green”) roofs have historically been used to reduce storm-water run-off, to replace vegetation that would otherwise be lost at the building footprint, to provide energy savings by buffering the roof membrane from the ambient air temperature and to extend the service life of the roof membrane by shielding it from UV exposure.  Originally seen as one of several features of the project to reduce the water-quality impacts of impervious surfaces on the project site and to improve energy performance, the vegetated roof on the Mendocino College Library Learning Resource Center is an example of how a design decision made in support of sustainability goals can also yield extraordinary aesthetic results.

The roof is comprised of a single-ply roof membrane and tapered insulation with the plants contained in 12 by 24 inch LiveRoof trays provided by Florasource, Ltd. installed over a protection membrane.  Heavy-weight roof pavers and ballast complete the roof components.  Working with Landscape Architect Quadriga, the decision was made to use the tray module as an organizing element.  Selecting from the 300 or so species of sedum available, trays containing five different sedum species have been arranged mosaic-like into a design featuring waves of color spreading across the roof surface. Pavers and ballast are used to bound the edges of the plant material and essentially providing a frame for the composition.

Located immediately outside a class room and adjacent to an outdoor terrace area, the vegetated roof provides both welcome views from inside the classroom and a colorful foreground element for the views of the hills rising to the south west of the site.

Bellevue District Office Dedication – Taylor Mountain School is Completed!


The Bellevue Union School District held a dedication ceremony to formally open their new district office and dedicate the boardroom to long time Board member Yvonne Kennedy. The district office is located at Taylor Mountain Elementary School and its completion ends 5 years of phased construction projects designed by TLCD Architecture at this new $19 million campus located in southeast Santa Rosa.

The design of Taylor Mountain Elementary includes a central courtyard with focused views to its’ namesake mountain to the east. Classroom pods ring the courtyard and lead to the library/media center. TLCD worked with the teaching staff to refine the pod design in support of the District’s teaching philosophy.

In response to wetlands and a tiger salamander habitat, the site design includes enhanced wetland study areas, bioswales, and stormwater detension basins. The interiors include many energy efficient lighting and mechanical systems, and extensive use of sustainable materials.

TLCD also played a key role in assisting Chevron Energy Solutions with the design and installation of a 176Kv photovoltaic power generating system that will generate a majority of the campus’ electrical power needs.

The later phases of construction used the Lease-Leaseback project delivery method. This provided an opportunity for the General Contractor and major subcontractors to provide valuable input during the design process and a guaranteed maximum construction cost to the District.

Taylor Mountain Elementary School is TLCD Architecture’s second new school completed with Bellevue Unified School District. Our collaborative effort and commitment to providing inspirational learning environments for the students resulted in a project that will serve this growing community for many years.

Revit Technology Conference 2012

Guy Messick, TLCD’s Director of Design Technology just got back from the North American Revit Technology Conference (RTC) near Atlanta, Georgia.  In keeping with TLCD’s goal of being one the of leading firms utilizing Building Information Modeling tools, this conference is essential.  RTC is a unique, independent conference, covering all things Revit / BIM and the whole ecosystem that supports it. This aids TLCD in the quest for a better, smarter process, and a stronger, more sustainable AEC environment.  Guy will be bringing the conference back by presenting at the next Redwood Empire Revit Users Group as well as in-house sessions.  If you are looking to raise your BIM/VDC game, check out the 2013 conferences.  By the way, check out the picture of those cute models of the cow and elephant, they were created entirely in Revit, and 3D printed from the models. [slideshow]

TLCD Architecture Recognized for 2 Top Project Awards

The North Bay Business Journal announced it’s selection of the 2011 Top Projects in real estate that will be honored at their upcoming awards event in December. TLCD Architecture was the design architect for the Santa Rosa Utilities Field Office selected for the Green Category, as well as the DeTurk Round Barn selected for the Historic Renovation category.

“We’re excited about this recognition because these projects represent the City of Santa Rosa’s commitment to the quality of the built environment”, said Mark Adams who oversees TLCD’s Civic practice.

TLCD Architecture receives bids for Mendocino Transit Authority Maintenance Facilities

Bids were received on Friday, August 19 for the MTA Bus Maintenance project. There were a total of 5 bidders and we are pleased that four of the five came in below our estimated cost of construction for the base bid and four alternates.  The low bid, submitted by Arntz Builders, came in at just below $5,000,000 for the total project.   On August 25, the MTA Board agreed to award the base bid plus two of the Alternates, with the option of adding the other two Alternates at some time in the future.  Construction should commence in early September.

Energy Boost – Simple Early Analysis

Most people will agree that the earlier in the design process the easier it is to incorporate sustainable elements. Daylight is probably the prime example of this situation: it is easy to add glazing in the beginning, but much harder to find extra space/money for glazing later in the design process.  The difficult question to answer is how much glazing do I need to have when I start? And, more importantly, how can I figure out how much I need quickly?

While there are various methods to determine the amount of glazing to provide daylighting, such as digital and physical modeling, applying simple equations early may be the most effective to develop a quick starting point. One equation that is particularly effective is the Daylight Factor Equation.

GSF = DF/FA * GO * ADJ * 100%

  • GSF = Glazing Square Footage
  • DF = Daylight Factor  (Should be based on occupancy requirements)
  • GO = Glazing orientation (0.2 for vertical glazing)
  • ADJ = Adjustment factors (mullions, visible transmission, dirt.  0.5 is a good starting point,)

A good starting point for the DF is 2%.  For reference DF is defined at the ratio between light level outside and the light level inside. For example if the light level outside was 1000 f.c. at 2% the daylight factor inside would be 20 f.c.

But you say “unlike you, I don’t like math.”  That’s ok, just create a simple model in Revit and let schedules do the math for you! I have created a schedule that can be applied to simple Revit models and auto generate the amount of glazing that is a good starting point. The schedule will show you the glazing you have and the glazing you should have on a room by room basis.  See images below.

Applying simple equations is a starting point that helps later in the process when more detailed modeling is applied as the design develops.

If your interested in working with these schedules, equation, or have other questions about this early analysis feel free to leave comments!

TLCD sponsors the Sustainable Enterprise Conference

The Sustainable Enterprise Conference was one of the better Friday the 13th events in recent memory. In the first year of sponsoring this event, and with a turnout of over 400 attendees, we had a wonderful opportunity to share ideas on nurturing our planet and our communities. We got to chat with a diverse cross-section of business owners, educators, government officials, entrepreneurs, students, and environmental advocates.

Topics ranging from economic drivers, transportation, green energy, sustainable agriculture, and community education were presented with insight and enthusiasm. The realities of the environmental challenges facing us were paired with a myriad of innovative solutions currently in use and those that will inspire us in the future. Although the topics were diverse, one recurring theme that presented itself was the need to constantly re-examine our assumptions rather than simply continue along business as usual.

TLCD’s booth highlighted 2 recently completed local projects – the DeTurk Round Barn and the City of Santa Rosa’s Utilities Facility. Both projects are great examples of TLCD’s integration of sustainability features which are a fundamental part of our design process on every project. Recently published white papers on High-Performance Mechanical Systems, Evidence-based Design, and Displacement Ventilation were also displayed. We also had fun encouraging participation in our (free) raffle for a gift certificate box of organic produce.

It’s Alive! The Redwood Empire Revit Users Group returns

AXIA Architects has been kind enough to assist in the restart of the RERUG, and is hosting the next meeting on Wednesday, May 18th.  This meeting will feature Bob Palioca & David Haynes of Ideate Inc., who will be presenting on the current state of Autodesk Building software. Please see link below for more information and to register for the event.

Innovative Multi-Purpose Room Unveiled

Last evening our design for a new multi-purpose building at Yulupa School in Santa Rosa was presented to the Bennett Valley Union School District board. This building represents a unique approach to the design of multi-purpose buildings, and is part of a larger project that will reconfigure and transform the campus. Other key project features include 12 new classrooms, conversion of the former multi-purpose room into a library, and rooftop solar panels that will provide almost all of the school’s electricity.

The building is configured with a large sloped roof to accommodate as many solar panels as possible. The orientation of the building allows a large expanse of glass on the back, north-facing wall of the main room, as well as the stage. The stage is only 18 inches in height, scaled to the primary aged students at this grade K-3 school.

Unlike most stages, the curtains will customarily be open so that the stage’s north-facing windows are open to the main room. This unique and informal relationship between the main room and the stage is emphasized by stage curtains that when drawn, are visible through a metal mesh from the main room.

The building orientation and roof slope facilitate passive nighttime cooling by means of natural, stack ventilation. This is accomplished by means of hidden louvers on the south and operable clerestory windows above the stage. An exposed radiant concrete floor slab will provide heating, while below-stage displacement cooling will eliminate the need for ducts. Wall mounted lighting is entirely indirect, leaving the acoustical roof deck free of light fixtures or ducts.

Water from the main roof will be collected by vertical tubes, and discharged into a bioswale, and natural filtration system. The entire process of conveying rainwater from the gutter, into the tubes, then into the bioswale will be visible.

Interior View Looking North at Stage

High Performance Whitepaper

High Performance Mechanical Systems for Institutional Buildings

When it comes to “High Performance,” are you up to snuff on the best available tools?  In his latest whitepaper, Alan Butler– with the help of Mechanical Engineers Tony Costa (Cost Engineers, Inc.) and Mike Lucas (Alfa Tech)–has compiled a careful study of the best high performance mechanical systems for institutional buildings.  The research ranges from popular displacement ventilation systems to less well-known enthalpy wheels and geothermal systems.  To learn more about today’s energy efficient systems for your latest building or project, download the whitepaper here.

What are Plug Loads?

You may see this device plugged into workstations, copy machines and other office equipment in the next few weeks. It is one of three of these devices I have on loan from the PG&E Energy Center in San Francisco. It measures the kilowatt hours used by any electrical device and can calculate costs on an annual, monthly or weekly basis. I have become increasingly interested in “phantom loads”, all that power that is consumed while our office machines wait to be used.  For example the Resource Station by my office has a computer, monitor and two scanners and is almost always left on 24 hours a day. Last night in the fourteen hours it was on while nobody was in the office it drew 2.26 kilowatt hours. Doesn’t sound like much but in the 6,256 hours it is left on when nobody is in the office it uses $177 dollars worth of electricity each year. This is 938 KWH per year which would probably be equivalent of  a pretty high residential monthly power bill.

There are lots of emerging technologies that I hope we will use in the new office. Some are as simple as occupancy sensors attached to plug strips which shut off all non essential power if you leave your desk for a period of time. We are  using  this at the new Yuba Center in Clear Lake.  New building wide  systems, similar to what we are using for daylight controls in our more sophisticated buildings, can sweep off circuits after hours and are intelligent enough to know if someone is working in that part of the building.

In the meantime think about all those transformers and devices sucking power around the office. If you can turn off a printer or copier on the way out as well as your computer we’d be  all the better. We are the best occupancy sensor devices. I’ll be tallying up the frightening numbers and showing some of the control systems  coming to the fore in  a Wine Wednesday presentation in coming  months.

Happy Earth Day from TLCD

Today marks the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day.  At TLCD, we are conscious of both the materials and the practices we employ with each of our buildings.  As architects and planners, we understand the implications that the built environment has on the natural world, and we make it our job to employ the most sustainable strategies for all of our projects.

Our 18 LEED Accredited Professionals keep green building in mind throughout the design and construction process for each of our projects.  We are currently in design phases of three projects targeting some level of LEED certification.  Additionally, our High Performance Committee searches out innovative green practices to bring back to our work and our office environment.  For example, the High Performance Committee has suggested that we transform our office green roof installation into a roof garden to provide staff and guests with fresh garden goodies.  Attendance at the annual Greenbuild conference also helps our firm stay abreast of sustainable trends in the architectural community and beyond.

Happy Earth Day from TLCD!

Green Roof gets a Haircut!

It was a beautiful sunny day, the last day of winter officially, and the perfect time to give our green test roof a spring haircut. Jamie and I got out the weedeater and a rake and went at it Friday at noon. Only one sprinkler head met its demise for the cause. The clippings went out to Kenwood where they were properly composted. Jaime and I got our eco-credits for the week and the roof got its first hearty drink from the irrigation system.  With only 4″ of soil the roof had dried out considerably in our short burst of warm weather. Our plan for the spring is perhaps to raise some healthy veggies on the roof garden to enhance our Wine Wednesdays. Stay tuned!

Green Roof Maintenance Crew at Work. Note John Deere T-Shirt.

LED Test Drive

Two brand new LED light fixtures from Workrite are visiting our office for the week. These highly efficient fixtures are expected to have a 20 year useful life (no lamp replacement). Workrite is known for  ergonomic products like adjustable height workstations, monitor arms, and keyboard trays.

The super flexible task light is able to fold into itself becoming compact and extend virtually horizontally, inches above your desk. It has the ability to dim in four increments, and can be mounted to your worksurface or freestanding.

The undercabinet light can be mounted to a magnetic surface or strip, with the ability to tilt, directing the angle of light. The dimming mechanism for this fixture is coming soon. Both fixtures come with a 10 year warranty.

Check them out in the Martini Lounge and click the link below or let me know if you would like pricing or more info.

Project Certification Conversion to LEED 2009 – One Project’s Experience

Wondering what the diefferences are between LEED v2.2 and LEED 2009 requirements? They are varied, and many. However, the attached article describes a real life experience of one project’s switch to the new rating system, describing the positive and negative issues. Well worth the read. Just click on the image to link to the article.


"Hard-Won Lessons From a LEED 2009 Early Adaptor" by Tristan Roberts;

High Performance Wine Weds Series

If you missed the High Performance Wine Wednesday Series the slides are available by clicking on the graphic above.

Summary of January Presentation : Introduction of the monthly presentation style and high performance.

This series of Wine Weds presentation will be conducted once a month and focus on a different topic each month.  Each presentation will present three levels of information; Research, Object, and Precedent.  Research will work to introduce the theory behind a topic and demystify confusing aspects.  Object will introduce a object that is related to the topic introduced and described by research. Precedent will detail a building that incorporates a design that use the topic.

At the end of each presentation, the presentation will be posted on the blog and on the new High Performance wall for further review.  The different presentation media types (voice, print, and digital) are part of a broader effort by the High Performance Team to distribute information.

We will always welcome comments and questions about any aspect of the presentation.  We feel the best forum for these questions is the comment section of this blog so that everyone can be part of the discussion, so please post.

-HP Team

Street Lights

I was surfing around on the City of Santa Rosa website and ran across this interesting information, Santa Rosa along with PG&E has set up a number of energy-efficient demonstrative street light fixtures (LED and Induction) to compare to the current high pressure sodium lights.  It gives us all the opportunity to see these technologies in use next to each other, which is nice.

There are significant energy savings (more than 50%) for either LED or Induction when compared to high pressure sodium, but there are some higher inital product cost.  There is more info on the city website, including the demostration intersection for those who are interested.

TLCD Awarded SMART Operations and Maintenance Facility

TLCD Architecture has teamed with Winzler and Kelly  Engineering on the new Operations and Maintenance Facility to serve the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District (SMART). The two firms distributed a joint press release today describing the project and what it means to the local community. Mark Adams will lead the design process at TLCD and states in the press release, “These types of public facilities always provide long-term public value. When they are designed to be attractive, efficient and sensitive to resource use, they become community jewels.”

New Green Regulation Information

For those of you who haven’t heard there is a new Green Building Code coming in January 2011.  The State of California (at the direction of Gov. Schwarzenegger) has adopted a new mandatory Green Building Standards Code, named CALGREEN.

Essentially it appears to be a modified version of the current green building code but now applies to everything and sets more standards.  These standards include things like mandatory inspection of energy systems, reduction of waste consumption, separate water meters for interior and exterior uses, and of course new inspections and reviews by government agencies.

One key thing to note from the press release is that its seems this code will apply to all occupancy types – residential, commercial, hospitals and schools.  I am still searching for more information but wanted to get the word out. Below is a link to the press release and information.

Museum on the Square Goes Public

Museum on the SquareAfter nearly a year and a half developing the concept and the design for Museum on the Square, the project finally went public this morning on the front page of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.  At a special meeting of the Redevelopment Agency tomorrow morning the City of Santa Rosa is set to formalize its selection of our team.  Not only will Museum on the Square be our new home, we’ll be the architect of this exiting project as well as a member of the ownership team.

Museum on the Square will transform an abandoned, nuclear blast-resistant telephone switching building in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa into a vibrant 10-story mixed-use project.  Along with the planned redesign of the adjacent Courthouse Square, this project will play a key role in the revitalization of downtown Santa Rosa and will be an outstanding example of urban ‘green’ development.

Museum on the Square will be home to Sonoma County Museum’s new contemporary art gallery, SC/Museum of Art.  Also included within the shell of the existing building will be a restaurant and industrial-type offices that along with TLCD Architecture will be home to software developer Métier.  The Lofts at Museum on the Square, 5 new floors of living units on the roof of the existing building, will offer urban living with stunning views.

Existing concrete wall panels will be removed and the building’s structure will be sheathed with a transparent curtain wall revealing the building’s concrete frame.  Walkways project from the façade to allow occupants to step outdoors to enjoy the sights and sounds of Courthouse Square, and a 6th floor roof deck will provide outdoor gardens and sweeping views for the enjoyment of the Lofts.  Wind Trellis, a roof canopy designed by renowned artist Ned Kahn will be built of small, reflective flaps that move in the breeze, generating small quantities of electricity discharged as subtle flashes of light.

As a reuse of a derelict urban structure to house a museum, moderate-income downtown housing, and the offices of creative professionals, some of whom anticipate living in the upstairs lofts, Museum on the Square will be an outstanding example of socially and environmentally responsible development.

See more images here

Torzo Resin-Infused Agricultural Byproducts + Recycled Wood

Here are some evocative sustainable panel products to ponder potential uses for in your next project… They have a range of visual interest from very refined to a more active look. We are using sunflower seed board at the City of Santa Rosa West College project, and are using the Durum wheat straw board on Burbank Elementary school. You can earn some fancy LEED points with these, too.

Indure™ is a recycled wood fiber based product that is FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) Certified and is urea formaldehyde free. It is made up of approximately 65% post industrial, FSC certified wood fiber. Indure has a sleek, contemporary concrete appearance that provides a modern look.

Orient™ is a recycled chip based product that is SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) certified. It is made up of approximately 75% post industrial, SFI recycled wood material. Orient is a unique product that can create either a sleek modern look or an old world rustic look, depending on the application.

Seeta™ is made from sunflower seed hulls, which is considered a rapidly renewable resource. This product is 100% formaldehyde free and uses a unique blend of acrylic resin. It is made from approximately 70% post agricultural sunflower seed shell waste. Seeta is almost granite-like in appearance.

Durum™ is made from wheat straw, which is also considered a rapidly renewable resource. It is 100% formaldehyde free. Durum is made from approximately 70% post agricultural wheat waste product. Durum creates a warm organic and very natural look.

Tiikeri™ is made from reclaimed sorghum stalks. It is made from approximately 50% reclaimed material and has no added formaldehyde. Tiikeri has a natural, organic appearance.

For all the options and panel sizes click:

The Energy Gamble

For those of you looking for something to watch I recently found a DVD (previously unopened) on the Healthcare bookshelf that is a good watch.  The Energy Gamble is a 56 min NOVA special on the State of California’s energy/sustainability path particularly AB32.  It’s a little heavy on the Governator but overall presents an interesting story that helps to explain where some of the greenhouse gas emissions cuts for AB32 are expected to come from and some of the issues facing the methods of cutting them.  It is primarily an overall view and I would have liked it to go a bit more in-depth in some cases but you can’t have everything in under and an hour.  It is worth watching in my mind. 

If you can’t find the DVD or if there is high demand you can also watch the movie online at

CHICAGO-Three Buildings

Tuesday at noon I’ll be presenting three buildings I visited in Chicago in early November. The New Modern Wing of the Chicago Art Institute is Renzo Piano’s latest work in the US. The daylighting of the galleries is spectacular. I also visited the Klarchek Information Commons at Loyola University of Chicago. This three story commons sits at the edge of Lake Michigan and uses a very sophisticated natural ventilation system. The Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies is the newest landmark on Michigan Avenue. The faceted  glass facade encloses gallery and library spaces within a daylit lobby. The detailing of this  building is very nice. Hope to see you at noon on Tuesday.–Alan

Catch Up With the Title 24 Seminar

In case you hadn’t heard… the high performance design we’re doing today is soon going to be the standard.  For myself, the presentation today on updates to Title 24 was a wealth of great information. Some highlights include:

– New requirements for the use of rigid insulation
– Roof reflectance ratings are now measured by ‘aged’ reflectance (3 years)
– Daylighting requirements of 50% for certain spaces over 8,000 sq. ft.,
– Multi-level photocell daylighting controls mandatory requirements for classrooms, conference rooms, and more…

If you want to catch up, you can find it here:

Title 24 Updates, by Martyn Dodd of Energy Soft LLC

Possible new client for the TLCD Healthcare Studio

Is this the future of healthcare? If it is someone will need to design these mobile clinics.

Challenges: Create a solar-powered, light weight, camel friendly design.

“Kenya’s camels recently started sporting some unusual apparel: eco-friendly refrigerators! Some of the African country’s camels are carrying the solar-powered mini fridges on their backs as part of a test project that uses camels as mobile health clinics. Organizers hope the eco-friendly transport system will provide a cheap, reliable way of getting much-needed medicines and vaccines to rural communities in Kenya and Ethiopia.”-inhabitant

Necessity is truly the mother of invention. This is a great, check it out!

Lost Dog Wash Trailhead

The Lost Dog Wash Trailhead project is located in Scottsdale Arizona and featured in this months Green Source  publication. It’s rare that this much attention is put into public restrooms but it’s proof that everything should be thoughtfully considered and well designed. 

Building Section

“Located at the heart of this seven-acre site, the Trailhead Gateway Structure totals 4,000 square feet and includes public restrooms, composting operations, and maintenance facilities, as well as covered seating and a sunrise viewing area. Nearby lies the Desert Amphitheater and the Equestrian Staging Area, while separate parking areas serve hiking and horseback riding trails. The design of the site and outlying structures accommodate guest lectures and field-based classrooms, along with providing opportunities for bird watching, picnicking, and guided interpretive hikes so participants can learn about local history.”-G.S.

Check out the slideshow for more great images!

Visit to PG&E Pacific Energy Center

Last Friday (Nov. 6th) several members of the High Performance Steering Committee (AKA those people who keep trying to make everything green) along with Nate traveled into the San Francisco to visit the PG&E Pacific Energy Center.  For those of you who could not join us this post will try to summarize what we learned. 

Of significant note was the presence of TLCD models at the facility as demonstration for the Heliodon and to a lesser extent the artificial sky.  In fact the Mendocino LLRC model has even made it into the PGE video displays in the lobby and on YouTube. 

In addition to showing off our own work the PG&E Pacific Energy Center offers us the opportunity to use the Heliodon, Artificial Sky and a significant library of the additional design and measurement tools, free of charge.  The other tools include digital sun path finder, luminance meters, various data logging equipment used for temperature, humidity, light levels, and power usage.  All of these tools can provide vital information useful in all stages of design and I encourage everyone to investigate their use at any stage of design (ask if you have quesiton about something). While it probably doesn’t suit the format of this media I will not go into in-depth description of each of the tools available however if there is interest please let me know and I can create other posts dedicated to various tool. If you would like to see the tools available the list is posted here.    And if I didnt mention it enough the use of these tools is free, they will even ship them to us for use (we have to pay for the shipping back). 

What is also of interest to us that the Pacific Energy Center offers is help with the processing and determining of various rebates and incentives for owners and designers.  Understand opportunities to save money for clients or ourselves using these rebates is a key issue that we touched on the visit.  There are specific incentives for just about any form, shape or color of design and construction many of which could be applied to our projects.  For more on incentive programs in visit : (general)  (industry based incentives, Healthcare, Education, etc)

One of the programs which many people know about but may not take advantage of is the ‘Savings by Design’ program.  This program offers incentives on design that out performs T24, these incentives can result in incentive for both the client and directly for the designer when reaching appropriate goals.  From our discussions at PGE there is no penalty for signing up for the program and not meeting the incentive goals (just lost energy and financial incentives), so this seems like something every project we do could be part of. The only catch is it the application needs to occur early in the design phases and it requires some paperwork.  For more information see 

The trip also served to enlighten us as to the wondrously wierd world of regulation governing the PG&E and how decoupled revenue influences the incentives and rate we pay for energy.  Without going to far into the technicality of it all here are the basics,  the amount of money PG&E makes is not related to the amount of energy they sell to customers hence ‘decoupling.’  The amount of money they make is actually set at rate that will allow them to recover fixed cost-plus an approved profit.  If they create and sell too much  energy the money is taken back in the next cycle (via a rate reduction)or they are allowed to charge more in the next cycle (each cycle is 3 years).  Additionally there are incentives that come with targets for conservation which can add up to additional bonus.   I think everyone present found this little bit of information intriguing and if you want a better understanding of the whole process here is an article from the Atlantic which describes the system in more in-depth manner.

I am sure there is some information I am failing to mention about our trip but this post is getting a little long.  Alan, Nate or Vanessa feel free to jump in and let me know what I am forgetting.  Also rumor has it there will be a wine weds about this trip in the future so stay tuned. 

Below is a link to a Flickr account of our trip.


On the Road with Alan-The Modern Wing

Later today I spent some time at the new Modern Wing of the Chicago Art Institute, This is Renzo Piano’s latest American project. It is dramatic and shows the art to its best advantage while being somewhat understated if something this big can be understated. The detailing is gorgeous and the way the building deals with natural daylight is nothing short of phenomenal. On top of this it has one of the best art collections in the country. Note the painting of me having lunch in the diner. Tomorrow is the Chicago Food Bank. Iv’e been doing lots of walking and taken hundreds of pictures. I’ll have a lot to share when I get back.


MW-Long ViewMW-Window SculptureNighthawks

On the Road with Alan- Klarchek Information Commons

This morning I toured the Klarchek Information Commons at Loyola University of Chicago. This is a new high tech computer and learning commons inserted between the old library and the campus chapel. It is a dramatic glass structure that sits right on the edge of Lake Michigan, so much so that it feels like sitting in a vast infinity pool. I got an extensive tour from the facility manager and the head reference librarian. Some good lessons learned and a validation that we are doing a lot right with our library projects.
This building has a very innovative ventilation scheme involving both displacement and natural ventilation. Check out the link for an informative piece on the design of the building:
Its double glazed façade creates a convective stack that draws air from the operable windows on the lakefront.
Klarchek ExtKlarchek InteriorKlarchek

New LEED v3 Checklists

LEED v3 ChecklistsIt’s like Christmas (almost)!!! You can find the brand new checklists and reference guides for LEED version 3 below (scroll down the page about halfway and look for “Download the Checklist” link for the Excel document).

We have a hard copy of the NC reference manual in the office. When you’re done with it, please bring it back to it’s home in the architectural library.

By the way… for Higher Education projects you can choose to use LEED NC or Schools.

Some of the Rating Systems are still in the Pilot testing phase, as indicated below.

LEED for New Construction

LEED for Schools

LEED for Existing Buildings

LEED for Healthcare:

LEED for Core and Shell

LEED for Commercial Interiors

LEED for Retail (Pilot Version)

LEED for Homes (Pilot Version)