Architect for SF Renovation
April 14, 2009 11:08 PM   Subscribe

Looking for architects and other resources for home renovation project in San Francisco. Modern, green, yada yada.

I'm starting my first home project - probably a 3-story renovation of our single-family Victorian. We have lots of ideas but not a lot of direction so far, and want to start talking to people who can help guide us and ask and answer questions.

We definitely need someone who's done work in San Francisco before, and are very interested in a modern aesthetic and green building, though we're not sure how much of that is materials and how much is design.

Resources? Hook me up with architects, builders, books, blogs, or general advice. Anything that helped you with your project.
posted by squishy to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Builders Booksource (over in Berkeley) is a good place to go. (I'd link it if I weren't so sleepy.) Also, if you get into rainwater re-use, MeMail me, and I'll connect you to someone.
posted by salvia at 11:25 PM on April 14, 2009

I don't know any architects but I will swear by Aidan Collins as a contractor. My folks have used him for 15+ years and he has always delivered on time, on quality and on or under budget. Message me if you want my real name as a referral to Aidan. It might also be worth mentioning that he is probably the best carpenter in the Bay Area, depending on what you want done.

It will definitely be worth your time to get advice or an estimate from him, at the very least, unless you're doing something very specialized.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 11:33 PM on April 14, 2009

Macdonald AIA Architects
posted by artdrectr at 11:37 PM on April 14, 2009

Also, while you're at it, consider the Decorator's Showcase. Granted, the site is flashghastly.
posted by christhelongtimelurker at 11:40 PM on April 14, 2009

Although there are most likely quite a few excellent architects in your area that are not members of the AIA, your local chapter would be a good place to start. The AIA is only a professional organization, not any kind of credential, so you won't necessarily be missing out on anything if you hire a non-AIA architect. Getting recommendations from friends is also good. My old firm used to get a lot of recommendations from real estate agents and contractors, although asking a contractor is a little like asking a fox how to guard a henhouse.

If you're looking to build green, you might want to focus on architects that have earned a LEED accreditation. Green building will involve a bit of cost on both the materials and design sides, with some variation depending on what measures you follow. Filling your house with extremely efficient appliances, innovative low-flow fixtures, and tons of insulation will up your material costs, but designing for passive solar heating, daylighting, and natural ventilation for cooling won't necessarily cost more than any other house. It'll take more design attention, though.

Before you talk to someone about your design, it might be helpful to go through magazines and clip pictures of things you like, just to show to your architect as an example. Not necessarily "I want something that looks just like this" things, but more "I like the way this part works with this other part". Dwell is probably a good magazine for a modern home aesthetic. Every once in a while, Architectural Digest will have something interesting, but it's primarily an interior design and decorating magazine, despite its title. I really like Metropolis, but it focuses on design in general, not just architecture. Architectural Record might work also, but will be relatively difficult to find - it's not usually at my local Borders or Barnes and Noble.

Good luck - marrying a modern addition/remodel to an existing Victorian sounds like an interesting challenge.
posted by LionIndex at 12:10 AM on April 15, 2009

City of San Francisco Green Building webpage (includes an incentives & rebates section $$)
Build It Green in Berkeley (includes a section to help people find professionals)
Water conservation from the SFPUC (more rebates and incentives)
Oakland Green Building Resource Center
Sustainable City (SF) by the California Urban Water Conservation Council

There are just the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully they get you started! They are some of the best local places (that I know of) to help people in your situation.
posted by salvia at 1:23 AM on April 15, 2009

John Lum is a friend of mine, SF based modern feel and recently had a project featured on the Planet Green channel.
posted by bitdamaged at 7:15 AM on April 15, 2009

I had a great experience with Fusion Building Company for a fairly large house remodel. They have a specific expertise in green building and did great job, both careful and reasonable in time and expense. If you decide to contact them drop me a memail and I can tell you more.

But before you hire a general contractor you need a plan. We worked entirely with a designer, no architect. If I were doing anything more space-altering or structure-altering I'd have wanted an architect. The designer turned out to be a disaster, so no recommendation there unfortunately.
posted by Nelson at 8:11 AM on April 15, 2009 is an architect message forum. just be careful that your inquiries do not border on asking for free labor. a lot of people in the building industry are out of work right now and understandably sensitive about it.
posted by srs at 9:28 AM on April 15, 2009

This is slightly off topic, but before you talk to anybody, you need to figure out what you mean by "green", or you may be disappointed in your contractor, architect, or designer's interpretation.
In other words, do you want to use products in your house that come from sustainable sources and will not end up in a landfill after your next remodel? Do you want state-of-the art new appliances that use less energy? Passive solar? Natural, non-toxic materials? Minimal use of new resources? Only locally sourced materials? Reuse-of all existing appliances and materials as much as possible? Minimal environmental impact? Only LEED certified stuff (certification costs money, so not every natural, sustainable, or energy efficient product or practice is going to have bought into LEED)? Grey water recycling? I personally find that re-use of existing materials, low environmental impact, and building design that takes advantage of the natural environmental conditions are my "green" priorities, but they may not be yours.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:27 PM on April 15, 2009

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