photo by Melanie McGraw for the American Institute of Architects
A flurry of architectural enthusiasm took over San Francisco last weekend as the AIA Home Tours shifted into full gear, exhibiting an incredible set of sustainable homes. Even the tour headquarters, located within the new office of Matarozzi Pelsinger Builders Inc., was a stunning adaptive reuse project that showcased a variety of sustainable building strategies. Designed by Aidlin Darling Design, the adaptive reuse project revitalizes a previously derelict turn-of-the-century industrial building while salvaging 75% of the structure’s original materials.
This project is one of the first to utilize San Francisco’s priority permitting process for new construction achieving LEED Gold level certification. Aidlin Darling Design capitalized on the building’s enormous timber beams and stairwells, which were maintained or creatively re-used, as in the reincarnated heavy timber office conference table. Considerable seismic upgrades resulted in a cost comparable to new construction, but the need for new resources was dramatically reduced.
A 30kW solar array covers the upper roof area and harvests approximately 70% of the building’s annual electricity use. The lower ‘living’ roof is designed to reduce heat-island effect, slow storm water run-off and provide enhanced insulation. All site paving is permable, further reducing storm water drainage into the City’s sewer system, and all concrete floors and exterior hardscaping utilize a minimum 20% fly ash instead of Portland cement. The permeable pavers also provide parking for Matarozzi Pelsinger’s fleet of three CNG cars and two Biodiesel trucks.
Inside the space, daylight sensors adjust the level of lighting to only what is needed for the time of day and a high-efficiency boiler powers radiant heating in the building floors. Low-flow water fixtures and dual flush toilets, and drought-resistant native plants outside, reduce the building’s water use by approximately 30%.
The building envelope is perhaps its most interesting feature, and was probably inspired by the skin of Herzog and de Mueron’s De Young Museum. Though not copper and ever-changing like the De Young, the MPB building’s perforated zinc skin takes on a varying stipple effect as it wraps across the facade. The building sides maintain industrial corrugated metal cladding, while the east and west ends are designed to “breathe” naturally, eliminating the need for conventional air conditioning while protecting operable windows from too much air or solar heat gain.
Add a couple of cocktails to the bright California sun, and this made for fantastic reception to energize us for another day of tours ahead.