In short, the vision was to create a building that uses the latest available technology to provide an educational experience in an aesthetically pleasing space. A structure that will stand the test of time in a harsh environment and inspire future generations. To show the beauty that can be achieved through the practical.
Mr. Feldner has been much more than a realtor and landlord for most of his life. In college, he aspired to be a professor of Industrial Arts. He has always given people well maintained, up to date, and healthy spaces as a positive-quality of life issue. He is an extremely well traveled man and had the good fortune of making the acquaintance of Joseph Eichler and Claude Oakland during the development of the Los Altos area. He is a man who knows the value of quality and is a person who is inwardly driven to do what is right simply because it is right.
He became inspired to do something special on this outstanding lot as a gift to the future. He enlisted the help of longtime Capitola architect Frank Phanton who has had unparalleled experience with architecture in the immediate area, alternative construction, and solar energy.
Their vision was one of a ‘factory for living’, industrial, teaching structure that would require minimum maintenance and gracefully withstand the harsh local environment. Mr. Feldner and Frank were convinced that the practical could be beautiful and they went to work letting the practical govern at every step. There was also the knowledge/creed that simpler is better, that passive/simple systems were superior to complex, and that less would be more. The efficiency of integration of systems was also strived for. A very visible example of this is the structure acting as the architecture. By celebrating the structure, we eliminate an eternal layer associated with building today. The architectural/educational quality of this building allows one to easily experience how the building is built.
This vision led to the massing of the structure. We required high, north facing windows for ventilation and daylighting. We maximized the south facing roof area to maximize the area of our photovoltaic collectors. Custom construction methods were devised to create an eave that is simple on the underside for ease of maintenance and visual cleanliness. There was to be a positive connection between the interior and exterior of the building and a softening/dissolution of the corners. The structure was to be celebrated, exposed, and minimal.
The choice of exterior materials is another example of practicality lending itself to the aesthetic. The corrugated cement siding is especially suited to our harsh environment. It requires no finishing and is maintenance free. The bronze anodized aluminum is a metal that has proven itself in our location and also require no maintenance. Painted steel, as used in battleships and automobiles, does withstand our climate if cared for properly. As this is used for both the architecture and the seismic resisting system of the building, we allowed for some maintenance of this in exchange for many years of service.
The location also called for something special architecturally. We didn’t want to be wildly outstanding; we strived to fit in aesthetically while at the same time allowing the practical to lead us and show that alternative, cutting edge construction can fit with any environment.
Drawings by Bob duMont, computer modeling by Lynette Sergius-Archigraphics