Tag: Matthew Millman

Exceptional Residential: AIA East Bay

in: ARCCA Archives / 0 Comments
Share this article:

[Originally published 1st quarter 2006 in arcCA 06.1, “Imbedded Knowledge”]


  • Regan Bice Architects, Crumpacker Residence, San Francisco. Merit Award. Photo by Joshua McHugh.

In Autumn 2004, The American Institute of Architects, East Bay launched Exceptional Residential: Bay Area Regional Design Awards (ExRes), a Bay Area design awards program offered every other year. What sets ExRes apart from other design award programs is that it is open to residential projects only, and those projects can be submitted by anyone: architects, design professionals, self-designing home owners, and so forth. ExRes requires only that the projects be located within the Bay Area.

Since many of the construction projects in the region are residential in nature, one would assume a large proportion of design award winning projects would also be residential. And, while we see juries awarding affordable housing and mixed-use projects, the number of single-family homes selected is always low. It’s not because of a lack of design excellence in these so-called “jewel-boxes”; it is usually because juries have a communal sense towards awarding projects that serve the greater good of our communities.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, our homes are a defining element of the fabric of our community. Recognizing this, the AIA East Bay leadership decided to highlight residential design excellence through an award program of its own. “The AIA East Bay knows it’s important to honor exceptional residential design that exemplifies what Bay Area living is about,” explains John Nelson, AIA, 2004 AIA East Bay President, “More importantly, the AIA strives to inform the public of the impact good design has on our lives. ExRes aims to do just that by examining what we all have in common: a living space.”

Equally important, the program is open to the public. In 2004 a number of the projects entered were submitted by residential designers and homeowners, groups that do not often have the opportunity to enter AIA awards programs. “While many awards programs tend to be exclusive, ExRes honors first-class residential design—no matter who was responsible for the vision. Most times, an architect is behind design excellence, but when the person is outside of the profession, we need to applaud their success,” asserts Nelson.

The ExRes 2004 jury (David Miller, FAIA; Larry Scarpa, AIA; and Lisa Findley, AIA) recognized projects ranging from a unique Airstream trailer to 60,000 square feet of affordable housing infill. Speaking on behalf of the jury, David Miller, FAIA, said, “Each of the twelve residences selected for an award uses a different approach to create a sense of home. Whether the project is affordable housing, single-family renovation, or mixed use, they each demonstrate an attitude toward issues and ideas. Focusing on good design, they offer experimental and clear solutions to critical issues.”

The AIA East Bay has grown more than 60 percent in the past two years, largely due to the fact that its membership highly values the role of the residential architect and sole proprietor in the profession. Exceptional Residential: Bay Area Regional Design Awards is one of the many programs this chapter uses in educating the public on the importance of design excellence in building and renovating homes.


Share this article:

Interior Architecture Award – Bar Agricole, San Francisco, CA

in: AIACC / 1 Comment

Share this article:

Photo © Matthew Millman

With a name inspired by the farmhouse rums of the French Caribbean, Bar Agricole embodies both the urban and the agricultural. Designed by Joshua Aidlin, founding partner of Aidlin Darling Design, the restaurant is both down-to-earth and sophisticated in its approach to food, drink, and the dining experience.

As a primary spatial gesture, the existing long, tall warehouse interior is given a sense of intimacy and scale by a wooden “hull.” The hull is crafted of reclaimed whiskey barrel oak, milled into thin strips and lapped in a scale-like texture. Delicate glass sculptures descend from skylights above the hull, puncturing through the wood ceiling and distributing daylight throughout the dining room, while promoting both natural ventilation and passive cooling. Their airy and fluid lines are formed by warped pyrex cylinders, fused into curvaceous glittering volumes that float gently overhead.

The restaurant’s bars, banquettes, and service spaces are arrayed as furniture-like objects within this interior volume. Two bars, made of board-formed concrete and recycled 100-year-old barn beams, are anchors of space and activity. Contrasting their orthogonal geometry are the sinuous banquettes, also of cast concrete. In the banquettes, however, the concrete is a seemingly impossible one-inch thick ribbon, achieved using a new Ductal concrete. More recycled wood, here riddled with wormholes, warms the concrete for the sitting body and links the booths with the overall project palette.

Photo © Matthew Millman

The dining experience does not end at the perimeter of the building envelope. Through a deep steel and glass facade, the dining room connects out to a courtyard and biodynamic garden. Homegrown organic herbs for artisanal cocktails are harvested from a series of raised beds, which directly adjoin outdoor dining tables—reconnecting the city dweller to earth and agriculture while providing respite from the urban streetscape.

The construction uses durable and sustainable materials, fabricated either on site or within a 15-mile radius of the site, to achieve the greatest effect in a minimal and efficient manner. The restaurant is located within a LEED Gold building and benefits from the base building’s solar arrays and living roof. Bar Agricole achieved LEED CI Platinum certification.

After earning his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Cincinnati, Aidlin founded a furniture design studio that later expanded to incorporate architectural design. His work explores the principles of design for multi-sensory human experience through a broad range of project scales. Aidlin’s dedication to design is augmented by his lifelong interest in the arts and by his strong sense of responsibility towards the environment.

Photo © Matthew Millman

Share this article: