Posts tagged with "EHDD":

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Presenting the Winners of the AIA SF Awards

On Thursday, the architecturati were at the War Memorial Performing Arts Center's Green Room to see who won in this year's AIA SF Awards. This year only saw 27 awards presented, half the number of last year's 54--perhaps an indication of how hard the economic downturn has hit this area. But despite the shorter program, there was no shortage of distinctive projects. Taking home top honors in the Architecture category was Ogrydziak Prillinger's Gallery House (photo at top), which impressed the jury for its "reinterpretation of the San Francisco bay window," among other things. Alas, the  images that were shown while the virtues of the house were being described were of HOK's Merit-winning library in Saudi Arabia,  the one glitch in the evening. Interestingly, the other Honor winner for Architecture was EHDD's Marin Country Day School, which is not only a graceful building rendered in wood and steel, it is also net-zero-energy and LEED Platinum. Since EHDD got the nod for Architecture, as opposed to Energy + Sustainability, it's a indication that the profession is starting to value design and sustainability together as a package. Mark Cavagnero's sensitive additions to the Oakland Museum of California and Perkins+Will's careful restoration of the Presidio Landmark were singled out in the historical preservation category. This category is a recent addition to the awards lineup, but one that should continue to have some great entries. In interiors, an amused murmur went up in the crowd when they learned about Sand Studios' medical marijuana dispensary, SPARC, which took home a Citation award.  But the biggest laugh of the evening came when the picturesque Honor winner for unbuilt work was announced: Anderson Anderson Architecture's Lips Tower, described as a "thirsty urban utility, sucking water and solar energy from the sky."
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Creating Vernacular Modern in Rural China

One of the Bay Area's venerable firms, EHDD (founded in 1972 by Joseph Esherick, George Homsey, Peter Dodge and Chuck Davis, the last of which is still active in the office), joins the list of firms that have been working in China. However, its new project is not a speculative skyscraper in Shanghai or some other bigger-than-thou marquee building.  It is an architectural triumph of another sort: a much-needed rural school that incorporates modern methodologies for sustainable design. It also manages to evoke Chinese vernacular architecture in a modest, graceful way--an aesthetic coup that seems to be a rarity in modern China. As Jennifer Devlin, one of EHDD's current principals, says of the project in a short but effective video, "[We set out to design] first and foremost a seismically safe school that met key green sustainable principles...that were really not our imposing our way of doing things in Bay Area, so much as responding to the environmental and social conditions there appropriately." The Zhang Jia Yuan Elementary School is laid out like traditional courtyard house, with swooping roofs of clay tile. The sustainability enhancements also include things as simple as insulating silk curtains. "The children....warm up the room, and at night you close [the curtains] to capture the heat," says Devlin. The pro-bono effort was inspired by EHDD's participation in Public Architecture's 1% program, which encourages the profession to give one percent of their time to charitable design.
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AIA SF Awards

Once again our friend Stanley Saitowitz—San Francisco architecture's answer to Meryl Streep— took home the most honors at the AIA SF's annual awards, held at the San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center last Thursday. Saitowitz took home prizes for his elegant, and relatively affordable, Tampa Museum of Art, his screen-obsessed Costa Rica house, and his effervescent Toast Restaurant in Novato, CA, which the jury described as "like walking inside a loaf of bread…..like swimming in sparkling champagne…." . Other big winners included Jensen Architects, noted for their SFMOMA rooftop garden and Walden Studios in Sonoma; EHDD, which took home awards for its UC Merced Science and Engineering Building and its Pritzker Family Children's Zoo in Lincoln Park, IL; and Min Day, which took home prizes for its L Residence and its Community CROPS Center, both in Nebraska.
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Salesmanship, Snohetta-Style

Just by looking at the mind-boggling New Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo, an architectural cliff on the edge of a fjord, you might think there'd be a lot of dense archibabble floating around at the firm Snøhetta.  We have been paying closer attention to them out here in San Francisco, after hearing rumors that they are in the running for the SFMOMA extension in partnership with locals EHDD. So it was doubly refreshing to hear one of the two principals, Craig Dykers, give a presentation about the firm last Friday at the AIA SF offices that was not only highly intelligible but often humorous: many choice quotes have been posted elsewhere on the Dwell blog. I started thinking about what it was that made the presentation (and the firm) seem so accessible, and came up with a few points (which I will take to heart myself the next time I am called upon for some sort of exposition). Because we all have to work at making ourselves and our ideas compelling to people who don't know who we are; and as in any business, our success depends in part on our ability to connect with clients. 1. ) A portfolio is more interesting when it shows both the most impressive projects but also examples of  humbler work. Dykers showed pictures of the Opera House and the library in Alexandria, but also photos from a small act of activism where they installed birdhouses everywhere to see how many they could put up before being stopped by authorities (they got to 42). 2. ) There are professional accolades, and then there is the reaction of the public at large. Dykers searched Flickr and YouTube to find photos  and videos that people have taken of the firm's buildings, including one (very daring) video of a stunt cyclist climbing the opera house. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWh9tO9KJ5U 3.) Show, don't tell--especially if you are saying something that everyone says. Dykers had a fun way to show the office in action: Koyaanisqatsi-style time-lapse video of  one long table where everyone comes together for lunch,  an "ampitheatre" where the whole office can gather, and an espresso machine in heavy use. He could have spent a lot of time going, "We're a very collaborative office and believe in sharing ideas," but the audience would have glazed over. 4.) Sincerity and commitment can be displayed on many levels. Talk about transparency: Dykers shared the company's salary range (entry level is $68K, while his own salary is $168K) and how they go to great lengths to keep the genders precisely balanced (the 110 staff members are 55 men, 55 women).  Whatever you may think of Snøhetta's designs,  you can't say that the firm doesn't have strong principles.