Page E3.3. 11 November 2009                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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  • Portola Valley Town Center

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    Portola Valley Town Center


    The contractor also tracked down other salvaged resources, such as lumber from old water towers and bridges in the region, which became the exterior siding.

    From the Ground Up

    According to Strain, who grew up in Portola Valley, the town's strong interest in sustainability enabled the sometimes labor-intensive measures undertaken by the building team. "It would be difficult to do this on a commercial project if you don't have a commitment from the client," he says.

    Local involvement extended to a variety of areas, such as insisting on using only one-tenth the recommended lighting level for site lighting. A dark parking lot at night was the tradeoff for energy savings.

    Late in the project, when the buildings were already framed, town residents "daylighted" a 100-feet (30-meter) segment of Sausal Creek that had previously been diverted in an underground culvert on the site. Volunteers then planted the banks with native riparian flora specified by landscape architect Ron Lutsko.

    The Portola Valley Town Center illustrates a team approach to paring back responsibly while replacing outdated buildings — going beyond LEED criteria in its reuse and recycling of materials, modesty of size, design sensitivity, and ultimately, beauty.

    Lauri Puchall lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she works for Turk Kauffman Architecture and writes about architecture and the environment.   More by Lauri Puchall

    Project Credits

    Project: Portola Valley Town Center, Portola Valley, California
    Co-architects: Siegel & Strain Architects and Goring & Straja Architects
    Contractor (Construction Manager): TBI Construction and Construction Management, Inc.
    Interior Designers: Staprans Design and Pivot Interiors
    Landscape Architects: Lutsko Associates and Carducci & Associates
    Civil Engineer: NKF Engineers
    Structural Engineer: Forell/ Elsesser Engineers
    Mechanical (Plumbing) Engineer: Rumsey Engineers, Inc.
    Electrical Engineer: Integrated Design Associates, Inc.
    Lighting Designers: David Nelson & Associates, LLC
    Acoustics: Ewart Wetherill
    Energy Consultant: High Sun Engineering

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    ArchWeek Image

    Building orientation and roof overhangs combine to maximize daylighting and optimize seasonal heat gain.
    Photo: César Rubio Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Rooftop photovoltaic panels were installed on the Portola Valley library.
    Photo: César Rubio Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    The children's area of the Portola Valley Town Center library.
    Photo: Courtesy San Mateo County Library Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Light fixtures in the main library space.
    Photo: Courtesy San Mateo County Library Extra Large Image


    Click on thumbnail images
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