Search results for "dreyfuss blackford"

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Weird Science

Dreyfuss + Blackford's historic power station conversion breaks ground in Sacramento
The $50 million Powerhouse Science Center, a Beaux Arts style power plant redevelopment project in Sacramento, California, has broken ground. Helmed by Sacramento-based Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture (D+B), the project takes the riverfront power station and reimagines it as regional science and educational center. Some of the redevelopment includes rehabilitating the former Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Power Station B, a power station sitting on the banks of the Sacramento River. The renovation aims to highlight the original use of the building, as well as the technological advances of energy production in the early 20th century. “In 1912, the PG&E Power Station B brought a backup source of electricity - something very new and technologically advanced - to the Sacramento region,” said Jason A. Silva, a design principal with D+B, in ENR California. “This concept of advanced technology is what inspires the placement and concept of the Powerhouse Science Center.” The original structure was designed in 1912 by architect Willis Polk during Sacramento’s recovery from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and was once the largest power plant north of San Francisco. It closed in 1954 and was declared a Superfund site in 1986 due to a high concentration of heavy metals in the soil. The adaptive reuse project covers 53,100 square-feet, including 22,800 square-feet of new space, to convert the structure into a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) center. There will also be a two-story addition that protrudes from the east side of the power station, containing main circulation, classrooms, offices, a café, and a 120-seat planetarium that rises above the building. Further work is being done to the building envelope, which is undergoing stabilization of the existing reinforced concrete and steel. A new intermediate floor will be added inside the historic structure for additional exhibition space. All of the renovations for the center are aimed towards a LEED Silver rating. The project is scheduled for completion in 2020.
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Power Up

Dreyfuss + Blackford to convert historic power station in Sacramento to STEM center
Sacramento-based Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture revealed plans this week to convert a long-vacant Beaux Arts style power plant designed by Bay Area architect Willis Polk into a $63 million regional science and educational center. The structure, designed in 1912 during the region’s recovery from the disastrous 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and while Polk was the West Coast representative of the illustrious and prolific D.H. Burnham & Company, was once the largest power plant north of San Francisco. The plant formally closed in 1954 and was declared a superfund site in 1986 due to a high concentration of heavy metals in the soil around the Sacramento River-adjacent structure. After being remediated over the following five years, the power plant came to be seen as the lynchpin of a post-industrial, regional science and culture greenway. Dreyfuss + Blackford’s adaptive reuse project aims to bring the structure back into relevance as a Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) center by inserting a new mezzanine level into the plant’s former turbine and boiler rooms. The large, open volumes formerly housing massive industrial machinery will make way for approximately 48,000 square feet of exhibit space and offices and will include a 150-seat planetarium. A new entry structure, clad in glass and intentionally deferent to Polk’s design, will feature exhibits, a café, and support services for the historic structure. Future phases of the project will also include the construction of a parking structure (with a 273 car capacity), outdoor amphitheater, terrace, wetland “living machine,” and other outdoor hands-on exhibits, with West Office Exhibition Design of Oakland, California, designing the interior and exterior exhibits. The project is currently in the midst of capital campaign, a construction timeline has not been released for the project.
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Local Color

Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture design illuminated parking garage outside Sacramento
Sacramento-based Dreyfuss + Blackford Architecture has cloaked their design for a new parking structure along the I-80 corridor between Sacramento and San Francisco in an LED-illuminated, aluminum fin-clad super structure. Located in the city of Fairfield, the structure’s ornamental exterior is meant to evoke the area’s strong winds by appearing to emulate the ripples of a wind-blown curtain when seen from an oblique angle along the highway. The 600-foot long, 55-foot tall structure, one of many parking facilities in the area, was also designed to create a community focal point and to illuminate what can be long daily commutes, one of the more perfunctory aspects of daily life for area residents. The lit structure is studded with an integrated LED light system that slowly scrolls through a slide show of abstract art created by children from the community. The project is meant to compliment the area's mass transit lines by providing convenient, highway-adjacent parking opportunities for commuters to link up with the region’s mass transit network. The garage will also feature four electric car chargers, powered by roof-mounted photovoltaic panels, at each of the six parking levels. The project will also feature bicycle parking and van pooling facilities. Jason A. Silva, AIA, design principal at Dreyfuss + Blackford, and project designer for the structure, said in a press release, “Our intention for this parking structure was to make it a source of community pride and engagement in the city. When we design a parking structure, we want to make it visually appealing and have multiple uses so that people think differently about what it could be used for.” Construction is expected to begin in 2018 with the 1200-stall garage expected to come online in in late 2019.
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Specifically Speaking
One of dozens of highly perscriptive models from Sacramento's General Plan, this one showing a
Courtesy City of Sacramento

In California, general plans define where growth should happen and what types of land use should be permitted in cities. But despite the “general” in their name, the plans are assuming an increasing amount of prescriptive detail, especially in terms of urban design. Cities like Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Monica, and Sacramento are taking their general plans along a design-heavy path, well beyond the traditional zoning and land use–based requirements.

Santa Monica, for instance, is now updating its Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) with a major focus on urban form, zeroing in on place-making, boulevards, and specific districts. It also aims to ensure that new and remodeled buildings are compatible in scale with their surroundings, and contribute to neighborhood pedestrian character.

Some think increased focus on design will pay dividends for planners and architects, while others find the more visual guidelines too constrictive, even unrealistic.

Sacramento passed its 2030 General Plan on March 3, mapping out its physical design goals for the next 20 years. The image-heavy document makes it easier to see the types of neighborhoods and places the city wants to create. It’s written in terms that are easy to understand, not “plannish,” said Woodie Tescher, a principal at PBS&J, an engineering, architecture, and planning firm that consulted on the update. The plan won the Comprehensive Planning Award of Excellence from the California chapter of the American Planning Association in 2009.

Not all are enamored. Kris Barkley, a principal at Sacramento-based Dreyfuss and Blackford Architects who has watched Sacramento planners take more control over the design process, said, “It’s like an idealized, theme park attitude rather than coming up with interesting pieces that come together into a whole that’s interesting in itself. It can be very difficult from a design perspective.”

PBS&J’s Tescher noted that the city’s attention to design is part of a growing trend. “Most municipalities are conscious of the need to think seriously about infill and intensified development,” he said. “There is a tendency to ask, how do we make projects acceptable to our community groups? How do we design projects to make more livable places, rather than just the traditional zoning we used to rely on to implement our general plans?”

But simply throwing more prescriptive guidelines at designers and architects could be disastrous, according to Tescher. He suggests inviting architects into the guideline-writing process as early as possible. “Bring in architects who are really doing exciting projects and get them to do prototypes for you,” Tescher said. “And then bring in a developer economist and run a pro forma. See if it really works.”

Another way to maximize impact is to focus on subsections of the city through specific area plans. A good example is the Downtown Design Guide adopted by LA in April 2009. Simon Pastucha of the city’s Urban Design Studio said creating a similar plan for the whole city wouldn’t be appropriate in all parts of town. “It’s really hard to come up with these city-wide guidelines that allow for flexibility or really apply in every different context, because you don’t really know until you start looking at specific sites,” said Pastucha.

Indeed, the most effective plans appear to balance prescriptiveness and flexibility. “What I want is an urban plan that’s clear about what planners want,” said architect Wade Killefer, founder and partner at Killefer Flammang Architects in Santa Monica. “The key is to find out the limitations, and then do what you want to do within those limitations.”