When WA Design set out to design their new offices in Berkeley, they aimed for an energy-efficient design that would fit in the context of their industrial neighborhood. Located at the transition from Emeryville to Berkeley on an urban infill lot, the three-story office is built with a wood and steel frame, soaks up natural daylight and is an exploration in energy management. The brightly colored Folger Offices are a good example of a high-quality urban design that aims to minimize its energy use.
WA Design’s Folger Offices are located on a heavily traveled industrial access road at the transition from Emeryville to Berkeley. The neighborhood is largely made up of older industrial buildings, so the new offices offer a brightly colored contrast to the monochromatic landscape. WA Design was largely influenced by the neighborhood’s context. The three-story building is slender and tall, and it was built with a wood-frame structure and exposed structural steel. The facade is clad with a checkerboard pattern of green and pale blue cement board siding, recalling the patterns of stacked shipping containers at the nearby Port of Oakland and the end grain of the wood pallets at adjacent Ashby Lumber. The north wall is clad in weathered steel, calling to mind the rusted artifacts found along the Berkeley waterfront.
Inside, the steel frame is left exposed and the finishes are a collage of materials and textures. Translucent resin panels filled with seaweed serve as partitions that let light through. Cement board panels are used for the flooring, and stainless steel is used on some of the wheels. 805 Folger is an exploration of energy management for small-scale commercial buildings. A motorized skylight allows heat to escape through the roof, and a motorized sun shade keeps the building from overheating. Daylighting helps minimize the use of artificial light, and other efficient systems reduce power use throughout the building.
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