Groundbreaking at Sonoma State University’s Wine Spectator Learning Center

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

Yesterday marked a momentous occasion for Sonoma State University and TLCD Architecture. A well attended groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Wine Business Institute’s, Wine Spectator Learning Center. Speakers at the event included Marvin Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator magazine, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, U.S. Rep Mike Thompson, and SSU President Ruben Armiñana, among others, and was covered by the Press Democrat.

It’s been three years since TLCD was first selected to design the renovation of the former University Commons building. After an initial design phase, the project was put on hold until the $9 million in private funding was raised.

Now that the project is fully funded, the construction process can begin! The project will be completed in time for students and faculty to enjoy their new space for the Fall 2017 semester.

For more information on the Wine Spectator Learning Center click here.


Pharmacy of the Future – Less Confusion, More Accuracy

TLCD’s Healthcare Studio team recently had the opportunity to design a pharmacy space that incorporates a new technology called GSL Solutions Will-Call Intellicab System. This technology aims to create less confusion and room for error when you pick up your medicine.

Who first thought up those alphabetical bins at the pharmacy stuffed with little white prescription bags? Even when they have 2 “S” bins and the curious “P/Q” bin, it always seems that half the lettered bins are overflowing, the others suspiciously empty. The pharmacist shuffles though the piles only to find your prescription isn’t in the bin at all. They talk it over with their mystified colleagues. “Why don’t you give us ten minutes to figure it out?” they say.

before and after prescriptions_crop

That was the past. The next time you get your prescription filled it may start out on a conveyor belt. In this layout below, a Pharmacist sees your order and picks it out of inventory, just like they used to. From there it is placed in a plastic bin and then onto a conveyor belt. After that it heads to a second station where another Pharmacist confirms the order and requests a slot for the patient in the Intellicab. The Intellicab randomly assigns one of its drawers and a blinking light flashes. The pharmacist heads over, waves their ID and a drawer opens. A blinking slot appears and the Pharmacist inserts the order into the bay. If a pharmacist inserts the item into an adjacent bay the Intellicab will make a record of the event to help train the user.

When the patient shows up to collect a prescription, their personal data is entered, and once confirmed the bin with their order in it is identified. A light appears on the drawer that holds it, then the Pharmacist heads over, waves their ID card to let the Intellicab know which Pharmacist is making the request. The drawer opens and a light appears at the patient’s randomly assigned bin. The pharmacist would then check the name on the bag and complete the transaction.

Even more important than speeding up pharmacy lines at busy hospitals, this technology has the power to save lives. Taking the wrong medication can have deadly side effects and, while rare, the wrong medication is delivered to patients from time to time. No system is fool-proof from human error, but this technologically advanced pharmacy design will provide a faster and safer way to get medication.

If you’d like to read more about TLCD’s Healthcare Studio, check out some of our other projects here.

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.)

Why I Love Public Architecture

Alan Butler AIA

The career of an architect has its highs and lows. If we are lucky and engaged in our profession we get a chance to design some great buildings. I have been both fortunate and proud of what I have done in the last three decades of practice. Every so often an event occurs that really gives you a sense of the value of what we do.

SRJC Petaluma Student Experience_TLCD Architecture

This morning I attended an end of the year breakfast presented by the Friends of the Petaluma Campus Trust. In the course of the presentation, three first generation college students spoke; Kim Baptista, a full-time parent and cancer survivor; W. Jamar Minor, an Air Force veteran and transplant from Akron, Ohio, and Adriana Lopez Torres, a Mexican born “Dreamer” raised in rural Marin County. The stories of the opportunities and support that the college and staff have been able to provide them with were extremely moving. Even more impressive was their own determination to push on despite a host of cultural, physical and financial obstacles. It was their teachers, counselors, and staff that really made this happen. As architects we just provided a good place for those things to happen. Their lives will be truly different from those of their parents and the college has made it possible.

For nearly 30 years I have been working on the development of the Petaluma Campus of Santa Rosa Junior College. When I began, the campus was a group of portable buildings behind the giant plaster chicken at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds. In 1995, I was immensely proud to be at the dedication of the first phase of the new campus built on a forty-acre site in east Petaluma. Almost 15 years later I was even more proud as the second phase of the campus’ development ushered in a new era for Petaluma,  providing a full range of community college opportunities. As with most building dedications, we accept the accolades, head home, and don’t often get a chance to appreciate the post-occupancy life of the buildings. Hearing the student’s personal stories reminds me of how proud I am to have played a part in an institution that can have such transformative results. It is personal stories like these that really make my professional life worthwhile.


TLCD Getting Their Hands Dirty

You don’t often go out on a Saturday morning in January and think to yourself, “Did I need to put sunscreen on this morning?”  But that’s what I found myself doing a couple Saturday’s ago with a crew of folks from the AIA Redwood Empire, including four from TLCD Architecture; Nick Diggins, Peter Levelle, Ron Starkey (Marina‘s husband), and myself.  We spent the better part of that Saturday working on the second of five houses to be built at the Woodland Hills project in Cotati for Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County.  We were split into two groups, one crew building a wood fence and the other crew placing sand and pavers for the driveway.  I think I speak for the whole group when I say we put in a lot of hard work, and we also had a lot of fun that day.  It’s very rewarding at the end of the day to see the fruits of your labor in something as beautiful as a rustic driveway of pavers, or a fresh wood fence.  It’s even more rewarding to know that your labor has helped provide a home for a deserving family in your community.

Welcome to the Beach

We started the surface refinishing of our new office!  As usual photos don’t do it justice. I did manage to sneak in during their lunch hour and take a peek at the transformation in its early stages.  The concrete is taking on a satin feel which is truly remarkable to experience. I wish all concrete could be like this…  Oh and another bonus, having an indoor beach is be pretty cool for office parties too.


Wondering how that giant opening got in this solid concrete box?


99% Invisible

I would like to highly recommend the podcast series 99% Invisible produced by Roman Mars in Oakland. It is self described as “A tiny radio show about design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world.”. The Podcasts range in length from 10 to 30 minutes and are totally fascinating. You can learn more about it at Check it out. This kind of effort deserves our support. It is partially underwritten by AIA SF.  You can get it through the iTunes store  for free.


TWiT TV Brick House Studio

On Tuesday I had the opportunity to watch a live broadcast of TWiT TV’s  MacBreak Weekly, a 2-hour internet broadcast (netcast) discussing all things concerning Apple products.  TWiT TV’s Brick House studio is located in downtown Petaluma.  The studio sets were designed by Emmy Award winner Roger C. Ambrose , and took me by surprise; I had no idea such a thing existed in Petaluma!  The set design is fantastical, highlighted by a series of trussed arches.  Interiors, sets, furniture, props, and lighting have been carefully designed and crafted down to the minutest detail.

If you have the opportunity, there is no charge to view any of TWIT TV’s several netcasts.  I happened to be interested in the subject matter, but would have been perfectly happy spending 2 hours sitting, absorbing the incredible design of the studio interior and set.

Don Tomasi

Yuba College – Clearlake Campus Nearing Completion!

Just in time for the Fall semester…… the Clearlake Campus modernization is wrapping up. Completed in just over 1 year, the campus has been transformed with three new buildings. These additions allow administration services to be located in the same building, the Culinary Arts program to expand with the latest cooking equipment and teaching aids, and for the Science Department to begin offering Anatomy classes due to the inclusion of a Wet Lab and Cadaver Room. Kudos go to Sundt Construction for meeting a tight construction schedule, in often very demanding conditions.

There has also been recent buzz in the local press. The Lake County Record-Bee has been keeping their eye on this project, letting the local citizens know that they have an amenity that adds real value to Lake County community. The entire Yuba College Community, Students and Staff alike, deserve my sincere thank you for remaining upbeat, energetic and commited throughout this lengthy process. They can all now take advantage of the modernized facility well into the future.

Library and Administration Building
Library Interior

TLCD Architecture Joins Sonoma County Best Program

TLCD Architecture has joined Sonoma County BEST, Building Economic Success Together, which is a five-year strategic plan for job creation and prosperity to directly address our economic challenges. TLCD Architecture, along with the other BEST investors,  form a collaborative partnership between the private and public sectors in Sonoma County to collectively work together to create jobs and restart the economic engine in Sonoma County. This is an exciting opportunity for us to be an active participant in the effort to reinvigorate our community.

Deck Love

Ready for summer
TLCD's newly refurbished green-roof deck.

Last week in honor of Earth Day a few of us (Avian, Bridgett, Bill, Julie, Marina, Stephen, Jack and myself) got together to give our green-roof deck a bit of love. We gathered up the deck furniture, got out the sanders and went to work. If you heard something last Wednesday at lunch that sounded like 10,000 angry hornets descending on TLCD, that was us. While some of us sanded off years of sun-baked slivers, others cleaned out the detritus that had accumulated on the green-roofs. In addition to a general clean, we decided to add some new plants to the roof. What was once a green-roof is now an eatable green-roof! Amongst the native grasses and sedums you will now find strawberries, lettuce, basil and tomatoes. It’s an experiment to find out what can be grown on a living roof. Thanks to all who joined in and helped. Now get out there and enjoy a nice break or lunch on the deck.

TLCD Beer Brewers Share Their Wares

This week’s Wine Wednesday was all about beer!

Our Own take on a British Amber Ale

For those unfamiliar with this longstanding tradition, every Wednesday at 5:00 the TLCD Architecture office gathers in our “Garage” conference room for snacks, refreshments, and a fun presentation.  The topics range from updates on current project designs, the latest trends in architecture, current events in our community, slides shows of recent vacations, and sharing of our favorite hobbies.

Kevin, Dean, and I prepare to sample our homebrews!

It was a big turn out for our beer brewing presentation.  What started as a fun experiment, has evolved into a full-fledged obsession and it was great to share my experience with everyone in the office.  Dean Snodgrass, a fellow home brewer, helped describe the process of fermentation and the role that each ingredient plays in flavoring a brew.  We also discussed a brief history of microbreweries (there are over 1,482 microbreweries across the United States, Sonoma County boasting some of the best!) and the burgeoning home brew culture.

During the presentation, participants sampled a number of our homemade brews including a Carmel Colored British Amber Ale, California Pale Ale, and Milk Stout. Kevin brought his own special dark stout and awesome pale ale to sample as well.

All in all it was an exciting talk and a fun way to share some outside interests with the rest of TLCD Architecture folks.

The Beauty and Desolation of Detroit

As many people may be aware the city of Detroit has admittedly seen better days.  To give an example the current population about 40% of its postwar peak.  This has resulted in what can be bluntly put as an excess of building stock, much of it in decay.  While it’s not something we think about very often the slow decay of buildings has a strange surrealism and beauty to it, this has been captured by various photographers in Detroit recently particularly well by the these photographers (see links below). (Look at the Rust Belt under PROJ)

Photograph by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre.

Happy Park(ing) Day

Parking(Day), Rebar
Photo courtesy of: Rebar

Individuals and communities are gathering together today to transform metered parking spaces into temporary Park(ing) public places.  What began as a single art installation by San Francisco design studio, Rebar, has turned into a global movement to bring awareness to the need for public open space especially in underserved urban areas.   The annual event has evolved from its original tree-bench-sod model to include gardening demonstrations, free health clinics, and even live music performances.  Check out instillations from 2009.

Hoptown Returns to the North Bay

Friday night June 11th from 8:30 to 12:30AM, Hoptown will be playing at the Twin Oaks Tavern (5745 Old Redwood Highway) in Penngrove. I’ll be debuting my new banjo and will be playing parts of the first two sets, but there will be plenty of regular rock and roll from the band as well. There’s no cover, and the Twin Oaks gets good notices for reasonable drink prices and being a friendly place to spend an evening.

Armstrong: ‘Does it Always Rain Here?’


No, in fact, it doesn’t.  This local news headline came from none other than Lance Armstrong in response to Monday’s chilly rainfall over the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race. The 110-mile second stage of the race drenched cyclists through a tour of Sonoma County in cold and unrelenting rain over four intense climbs.  But the wet weather did not keep TLCD race fans away; a few staff members bundled up to cheer the racers across the downtown finish line.  Santa Rosa resident and three-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer finished in the main group and is in 12th place overall. He is 10 seconds behind new race leader Brett Lancaster with six days of racing remaining.

Although the weather did not cooperate with the Amgen race schedule, Santa Rosa is still an enthusiastic host of this race.  “The national exposure for Santa Rosa and Sonoma County is phenomenal,” said Mayor Susan Gorin.  In the days to come, Santa Rosa will continue to buzz about the race and will keep up hope that Team Radio Shack (including Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer) will take the lead.

For those who missed the exciting ending to yesterday’s race, watch the video here:


Gulf Spill

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I’ve been here just over a week now in the Delta National Wildlife Refuge (DNWR) working with local, state and federal wildlife officials gathering data and learning my way around the refuge. I’ll catch everyone up quickly… The day after I got here we started to head out on search and collection missions around the DNWR. BP is using local boat captains as guides and we (IBRRC)are manning each boat with two of our staff. This local fisherman know this area very well, most of them grew up fishing these waters. It was a smart move on BP’s part because the waters are closed to all fishing and the delta is littered with abandoned oil wells and pipelines. The area is deceptively shallow in places and if you didn’t know which channel or passage to take you might just have to spend the night out stuck in the mississippi mud with the alligators and water moccasins. Honestly this is the strangest spill I have worked to date. There is an estimated 5,000,000 gallons of oil spilt and the gulf currents are keeping it off shore. BP has not been able to cap the leaks and unfortunately this could go on for a very long time. Small stringers of oil (small meaning 10-20 miles in length and 1/2-1 mile wide) will “brush” the delta but so far we have seen very little sign of oil. If the oil does come in this will be by far the worst natural disaster the US has seen, well beyond the Valdez spill. The main area that the oil is threatening is the Mississippi Delta (Click here for satellite images) region which is a network of marsh lands and shallow mud flats. Areas that would be almost impossible to access to clean the oil. On top of that millions of birds  and other species call this area home. It feels like there is a bomb out there that everyone can see, no one can disarm and everyone knows it will eventually go off, it’s just a matter of time and all we can do is helplessly watch. Needless to say tensions are high. NOAA Image for 5/12/2010

Right now I am leading a “hotshot team”

Hotshot Crew

of 6 search and collection team members that are now living aboard a barge located in Dennis Pass out in the middle of the delta. We leave everyone morning in our boats to search our assigned zones. At the end of the day or when the weather changes we head back to the barge to report our finding to the US Fish and Wild Service who then relay the information up the chain of command. Its been really interesting to see this spill unfold. NOAA handles all offshore activity, the coast guard is in charge of cleanup, USFWS is in charge of anything with in the delta, USDA (that’s right the food people) have an animal services division that specializes in capture / collection and we are floating between all agencies helping/training them as the need arises. Until now we’ve been out of cell range but we finally got satellite communication aboard the barge…its slow but working! So far we only have a few birds in our center.

Oil Laughing Gull

Partially because like I said earlier the oil is staying out at sea and partially because they will not allow us to head out to ground zero where all the oil is. Can’t catch oiled birds if you’re not where the oil is! We are working on getting permission to go out there to see the devastation for ourselves. Until then we’ll keep working the southern tip of the delta. Thanks again for your support. I will write more was thing progress.

Off to the Gulf

While we will be sleeping Tuesday night, Jaime will be on a red-eye flight heading for Louisiana. Monday morning a call came from his past life asking if he could help with bird rescue at the Gulf of Mexico as the BP spill approached the shoreline. Prior to his life in architecture Jaime was  a wildlife  biologist with the International Bird Rescue Research Center. For the next two weeks  he will be helping organize bird rescue centers and training volunteers for what promises to be an extended environmental crisis in the gulf.  You might want to check  out this link on the IBRRC site: It is a bio of Jaime’s past work on bird rescues at oil spill sites.

In an email exchange Monday, I asked Jaime how they would deal with a spill this big?  Every day the blown out well is pouring multiple Exxon Valdez tank loads into the gulf. Jaime replied: “I am not sure. Each time is different. Hopefully they are pulling in lessons learned from past spills and applying them to this one. Part of the issue is that although the product spilt is the same each time,  the environment is different and requires new solutions to a similar problem. With all of the marshland, mangrove forest and swamp exposed to the gulf,  this is going to be challenging. It will be interesting to see what kind of defense BP and the Coast Guard is mounting against the slick”.

So while we feel exhausted from hitting the return key for long hours, we can think of Jaime working what will likely be  twenty-hour wet and oily days. We wish him all the best and hope for blog posts from the front.


Forget PLam, try Soy-CornLam!

Rarely does a new ‘green’ product spark my interest like this one from Baltix. This is not only due not only to the newly engineered soy/corn laminated top over FSC certified Sierra Pine substrate – the application process allows you to continuously seal the top and edge of your materials. The soy/corn ‘paper’ printed with soy inks simply wraps down the side of your panel, and is sealed with a rock hard finish. Thus you end up with a ‘solid’ appearance, and no ugly grey seams or openings to harbor dirt.

However, as in most good things, there is a bit of a down side – darn it! The ‘paper’ is printed, and the print quality is a little sub-par. It reminds of of the laminates from 10 years ago. In some cases new laminates are almost indistinguishable from real wood. That being said – if you’re careful to chose a nice abstract or solid print, you should be fine. Who wants wrapping wood grains anyway? You also have incredible potential to create a custom design. There is a seriously small upcharge to doing so, and viola – the sky is the limit. Just remember, just because you can… doesn’t mean you should.

They are also using this continuous sealing method on a host of other ‘green’ products with their new technology including sunflower seed board, recycled paper/magazines/money board, wheat board, etc. Other products include linoleum over exposed multiply, fully powdercoated substrates, and corn (not pvc) edges. We will have samples in the office soon. Check out more here:

Fieldhouse Dedication

Jeff, John Dybczak and Brian attended the dedication of the new Napa Valley College Fieldhouse (formally the North Gym) on Thursday afternoon. The dedication ceremony was attended by about 100 people, including the very first graduate from the college’s Criminal Justice program. The two-story facility houses a large mat room on the upper floor used for tactical training of the CJ cadets, while the lower floors include a large weight training room for the Physical Education and Athletics departments, and a facility for adaptive PE. Jeff was the project architect for the building, which incorporates a high level of daylighting and natural ventilation, as well as a high efficiency mechanical system. This was also TLCD’s first use of Trespa panels, which look great. A real-time example of the sunshading controls occurred during the ceremony as Greg Miraglia (the former dean of the CJ program) was speaking at the podium, when after a dramatic session of thunder and lighting, the sun started streaming into the space, right into Greg’s face. Just in time, the mecho-shades on the high west windows lowered, and all was well!

The building looks fantastic, even though a few punch list items need to be completed, and the majority of the landscaping is yet to be installed. The college stakeholders and board members present are extremely happy with the new building. Kudos to Jeff and John for a great job with the design and construction administration!

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.”

250 Pounds to Go!

The Half-Ton Holiday Food Drive Challenge is almost over, and we’re very close to meeting our ambitious goal.  Keep bringing in your bags of food all week long, and remember that for every pound of food TLCD is making a $1 donation to the Redwood Empire Food Bank.  We have collected a whopping 750 pounds to date, but strive to reach the 1000-lbs mark in the next week.  So keep it coming!


For those of us who are Ducks, and those who just want to watch good football, Thursday Night is the annual Oregon Civil War Game at Autzen. The Oregon (BCS#7) and Oregon State (BCS#13) game will mark the 113th Civil War game in Oregon history and the first time the game will determine the Pac-10 Champion and secure a trip to Rose Bowl.

The game starts 6:00 PM and is on ESPN.

For those of you who are unable to watch ESPN you can watch online for free with a live internet broadcast at

Also if you want to watch previous games, stores games broadcast on ESPN for replay online.  I recommend watching the Sat, Nov 21 Game against Arizona (unless you are an Arizona fan).

PG& E Field Trip!



Originally uploaded by TLCD Architecture

Here’s a test post from our new TLCD Architecture Flickr account! You can post directly from Flickr in a few easy steps:

1. Login to (you’ll find out more about this at Wine Wednesday this week)

2. Go to the picture you want to post to the Blog

3. Directly above the photo  hit the ‘Blog This’ button, and viola!

4. Add your title and short description, and post to the blog. Ahhh, success.