Sonoma County Regional Parks opened a spectacular new park, North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park, that links the Bennett Valley/Sonoma Mountain Road region with Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen. My wife and I took to the trails and captured some of the beauty of this newest addition to our regional park system.
The park has one main trail leading to the western border of Jack London State Park near the top of Sonoma Mountain. Most hikers appeared to be doing the 2.2 mile hike up to the Bennett Valley Overlook about half way up the trail. The trails are new and while the trek is all up hill the grades are quite reasonable. There is about 800 feet elevation gain to the Overlook and about another 300 to the park boundary.
The beginning of the walk is wooded, gradually opening up as you gain elevation. With the fog last Friday morning it was stunning to look down on the layers of clouds lying in the valleys. From the Overlook there is a wide view looking from Mt. Taylor and sweeping eastward to Hood Mountain in the east.
The new park is very popular right now and while getting in during the morning was achievable for most of those I talked too, the rangers were turning away people in the afternoons. There is a narrow access road leading into the park from Sonoma Mountain Road. The turn is just short of three miles from Bennett Valley Road.
We saw about a dozen different types of wildflowers in bloom and I expect that in a few weeks it should be an even better display. Definitely worth the trip!
You don’t often go out on a Saturday morning in January and think to yourself, “Did I need to put sunscreen on this morning?” But that’s what I found myself doing a couple Saturday’s ago with a crew of folks from the AIA Redwood Empire, including four from TLCD Architecture; Nick Diggins, Peter Levelle, Ron Starkey (Marina‘s husband), and myself. We spent the better part of that Saturday working on the second of five houses to be built at the Woodland Hills project in Cotati for Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County. We were split into two groups, one crew building a wood fence and the other crew placing sand and pavers for the driveway. I think I speak for the whole group when I say we put in a lot of hard work, and we also had a lot of fun that day. It’s very rewarding at the end of the day to see the fruits of your labor in something as beautiful as a rustic driveway of pavers, or a fresh wood fence. It’s even more rewarding to know that your labor has helped provide a home for a deserving family in your community.
Each year, the Board of Directors of the AIA Redwood Empire (AIARE) gathers for a retreat to strategize and plan for the coming year. This year as the current AIARE President, I organized the retreat that was held at the new Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) facility in Santa Rosa. In addition to supporting and partnering with an essential community assistance organization by renting the REFB boardroom for the day, the AIARE board members were also able to take time during the retreat to do some volunteer work in the warehouse. Our group enthusiastically worked on sorting carrots from a pair of 1,700 pound palettes into 3 pound bags to get them ready for distribution to families in need.
After volunteering, the AIARE board members were led on a tour of the facility by the architect, Julie Jackson, AIA of Jackson Liles Architecture in San Francisco, and by a former President of the REFB Board of Directors, Alan Butler, AIA of TLCD Architecture. Alan was board member of the REFB at a time when they had outgrown their old facility. Alan helped write the program for the innovative new facility after touring a number of food banks across the country to see what worked and what didn’t. As a result, the new facility includes elements that do more than just store and distribute food, like a small market for low income customers and a commercial kitchen that supports new programs like “upcycling” bulk foods, and culinary education for the community.
The REFB is the food distribution hub for over 175 food related non-profits and distributes almost 14 million pound of food to the region each year. They offer their conference facilities at a very reasonable rate to non-profits in order to expose their operation to a wider audience. Check out the REFB if your non-profit needs a meeting space!
We started the surface refinishing of our new office! As usual photos don’t do it justice. I did manage to sneak in during their lunch hour and take a peek at the transformation in its early stages. The concrete is taking on a satin feel which is truly remarkable to experience. I wish all concrete could be like this… Oh and another bonus, having an indoor beach is be pretty cool for office parties too.
Wondering how that giant opening got in this solid concrete box?
The Mendocino College North County Center in Willits was recently named a winner in the education category of the North Bay Business Journal’s awards program for Top Real Estate Projects in the North Bay. The North County Center, designed by TLCD Architecture and built by Midstate Construction, opened in the Fall of 2013 and has spurred a growth in the number of students enrolling in classes at the Center. The heart of this facility is the Learning Center, a collaborative learning resource environment with a pair of redwood barn doors that open to administrative space and a wood and glass sliding storefront wall that connects to a computer classroom. The redwood barn doors and redwood board paneling on the interior serves to complement weathering steel panels on the building’s exterior that are slowly oxidizing to a beautiful rust red color.
As Project Architect for the North County Center, this was the first project at TLCD that I was able to work on from conceptual design all the way through construction. When my Mom came to town for a visit, this is the project I took her to see. I am anxious to see the final results of this oxidation process so that the complete design vision can be realized (and so we can do the final photography!). I can’t complain though since I got to work with a couple of folks from the College, Mark Rawitsch, Dean of Instruction, and Mike Adams, Director of Facilities Planning, who had to wait more than 25 years to see the North County Center realized! I guess it’s like they say, all good things are worth waiting for.
This was the perfect project to take a test drive of Autodesk’s Dynamo for Revit and see what we could do. Dynamo is a new, exciting, visual programming software that is similar to Grasshopper for Rhino. We are actively beginning our exploration into computational design, and have already begun to see its benefits as we integrate Dynamo into TLCD’s BIM design process. In this quick exercise we were able to quickly develop eight different iterations from our design. Don’t miss the video and take a peek of us creating an addicting, generative design solution to share and discuss with the entire office and friends!
Check out an earlier blog post from December that started this conversation. Rapid Prototyping: Exploring Multiple Design Options
This morning everyone at TLCD Architecture toasted our 50th anniversary. Quite the milestone!
It began on January 1st of 1965 when Tom Tomasi left Steele & VanDyke, then one of Santa Rosa’s 2 primary architectural firms to begin his own practice. He worked above Stanley’s Music (now Skeeters, et. al.) on 4th Street in Santa Rosa in a rear office with a view of the blank wall of the (now former) Topaz Room. From those humble beginnings he moved into a well-known Victorian house at the corner of Sonoma and Brookwood Avenues, also in Santa Rosa.
Several years later George Lawry began his own firm, later joined by Ken Coker and Joel DeSilva. LCD’s office was also on Sonoma Avenue, just a couple blocks down the street from Tomasi Architects. In 1993 all of these initials (and a couple dozen others!) came together to create Tomasi, Lawry, Coker, DeSilva, later TLCD Architecture.
At 50 TLCD Architecture has a rich legacy of completed projects, and continues to be a positive force in the communities in which we work. We continue to grow and evolve, and look forward to new and exciting things in the years ahead.
We’ll more formally celebrate this important milestone later this year, once we’ve moved into our new space at Museum on the Square. But kicking things off with a nice Sonoma County sparkling wine on the first workday of the year isn’t a bad way to get the celebration rolling!