Linden Tree Books
We used LEED's green building principles as a guide for this project, incorporating the following features:
- Skylights and NanaWalls provide natural daylighting and ventilation. The folding glass window-walls along the State Street storefront can be pulled back to create indoor-outdoor space that allows passive airflow and encourages passers-by to stop in and shop or chat.
- Indoor air quality was improved by using zero-VOC paints and adhesives and by adding carbon filtration to the HVAC system.
- Bathrooms feature low-flow toilets and water-efficient automatic sensor faucets. Even one for kids!
- The building is modeled to be ~ 15% more energy efficient than California's Title-24. This goal was met by insulating the roof, replacing HVAC equipment with economizer cycles, and installing low wattage LED and florescent field lighting.
- A stormwater infiltration system was incorporated for the roof downspouts, with LaPaz pebbles at the sidewalk level and gravel and filter fabric below so roof runoff is treated on-site as much as possible.
The building also features a new cedar facade, a large dutch door to keep the kids inside, and beautiful new hand-crafted signage.
This building was built in 1915 as a single family residence, once home to the Los Altos librarian. We retained much of the original structure and its charm, although the foundation had to be repaired and the building seismically reinforced. In addition to creatively reinventing the use and layout of this existing building, many green features were incorporated:
- The original floors were refinished rather than replaced.
- The bathroom tile is handcrafted using sustainable manufacturing processeses and recycled materials by FireClay Tile, whose manufacturing is done locally in the South Bay and Monterey Bay areas.
- The front landscaped area replaces grass with Heavenly Turf, thereby eliminating the need for irrigation while providing a durable, non-toxic, and recyclable play surface for children.
- Skylights are located throughout for natural light.
- Low-VOC paints were used and carbon air filters are installed throughout ensure the highest indoor air quality for Bumble’s customers young and old.
- Two mature redwood trees were saved through incorporation into the outdoor deck design. The deck wraps around the trunks of these trees, creating a beautiful, shaded patio experience.
Skateworks originally came to downtown Los Altos as a “pop-up” retail shop. “Pop-up” meaning a temporary retail shop that tests the retail climate for new products and customers. Fortunately the test worked, and Skateworks has extended their stay! Skateworks proprietor Jason Strubing also operates the original Skateworks in Santa Cruz.
Given the temporary nature of the "pop-up" concept, we installed minimal initial improvements, which also aptly suits the urban minimalist feel that pervades the Skateworks culture. Refinished concrete floors, exposed ceiling with exposed ducting, partial height walls and warehouse lighting all contribute to the ambiance. No-VOC paints were used and the bathroom was converted to meet ADA compliance with a subway tile wainscoting. The exterior was repainted a bright “California Blue” with a yellow door, to reflect the spirit of the company. Now, given Skateworks' commitment to remain in downtown Los Altos, Jason has added an indoor skate ramp visible through a 12'x8' exhibition plexiglass window in the shop.
First & State Retail Building
This ten-unit retail building is home to some of downtown Los Altos’ favorites: Peet’s, European Cobblery, The Dailey Method, FastFrame, Skate Works, Webtown Cleaners, Jolie Madame Salon, and 359 State Street, a bicycle pop-up shop.
After purchasing the building in 2010, we conducted an energy audit of all of the retail spaces, in an effort to decrease energy use and expense wherever possible through Ecology Action’s RightLights program. In addition, we have actively worked with each tenant to reduce their waste costs through increased recycling and establishing the ability to compost.
In December 2011, in conjunction with the City’s First Street improvements, we removed awnings and repainted the the retail facades in bold and fresher colors. The result is a simpler and more inviting retail storefront row on both State and First Streets.
We also collaborated with the City of Los Altos to add a planter along First Street, to create larger and more inviting sidewalk areas that encourage people to meet and gather. Pistache trees were added for shade along with beautiful drought tolerant succulents.
Area 151 is a kid-oriented game arcade inspired by Cain's Arcade, designed as a fun, safe destination for the pre-teen and teen population in downtown Los Altos. The games at Area 151 are a mix of throw-back redemption games and the latest side-by-side competition or redemption games using state-of-the-art technology. The games promote teamwork and competition to earn tickets and redeem for great prizes over the traditional video arcade machines. In the rear space is a homework club where kids can receive supervised homework help.
Area 151 was started by Mary Heffernan - a local Los Altos business owner who also founded and operates Bumble, Play!, and Academic Trainers. Local artist John Baden created murals on the exterior and courtyard walls, as well as an alien landing-pad mural in the rear parking area. The landscaping consists of xeriscape succulents and cacti, as well as recycled-content artificial turf that eliminates irrigation needs. The building required minimal retrofitting, retaining the original floor, walls, windows, and doors.
The Sock Shop
European Cobblery is a fourth generation family owned and operated business that provides high quality footwear and leather products as well as repair services. This is a sustainable endeavor in that material repaired can be diverted from landfill. The shop repairs not only shoes but also handbags, saddles and other equestrian tack, and leather gloves. European Cobblery is also a certified repair shop for Louis Vuitton products. When an adjacent retail space became available, they were inspired to experiment with a ‘pop-up’ concept to complement their existing business. Known as The Sock Shop, this connected space features primarily socks, slippers and flip flops. The space was repainted a warm bright white, and sisal rug was installed which balances the colorful merchandise.
It is fitting that a new attraction for children is replacing the former Linden Tree Books location. PLAY! is an indoor playspace for exploration and learning offering art, music, dance and science classes for kids ages 0-10. We painted the space a fresh white using zero-VOC paints, and returned the storefront to its original facade color. The interior improvements were designed and coordinated by PLAY!, including a bright blue carpet and pony walls to separate the check-in area from the arts-and-crafts zone. The original courtyard of the building will be used as flex space, and offices once part of Design & Interiors will become break rooms for parents to work or read while their kids are in class.
Passerelle Investment Company
In designing our office, we wanted to both incorporate sustainable building practices and exert as light a touch on the existing building as possible. For example, by simply removing prior acoustic ceiling tiles and exposing the interior rafters, we were able to add skylights to create an inviting and inspiring work environment.
Some green features contributing to the building's LEED-Platinum for Commercial Interiors certification include:
- An extensive photovoltaic and solar thermal array offsetting ~ 26% of the building's total modeled energy use;
- HVAC equipment retrofits yielding ~ 40% reduction in energy compared to a baseline code-compliant building;
- A ~ 39% reduction in energy used for lighting, and ~ 37% less water due to installation of low-flow faucets, showerheads, sinks, toilets, and a waterless urinal;
- Locally-purchased Renewable Energy Credits which offset all vehicle miles traveled by employees. These credits represent 11 metric tons of greenhouse gases that have been prevented from entering the atmosphere.
Evolve is a unique fitness concept bringing Pilates, Yoga, Gyrotonic (R), massage, and TRX offerings together in a single studio. The light-filled entry features merchandise, a lounge area, and a beautiful reception desk with retail shelving made from single pecan slabs. The remaining ground floor space is divided into three distinct areas: one for smaller classes, one for massage and treatments, and one for larger classes, teacher training, and day to day Pilates, Gyrotonic, and TRX sessions.
As part of a LEED-Platinum for Commercial Interiors project, most of the features of this renovation incorporate sustainable design principles, including energy and water reduction and healthy indoor air quality. For more see our Passerelle Investment Company Project.
127 First Street
Originally a glass warehouse, then converted into an Italianate restaurant, this building was retrofitted for office use through minimal interior improvements. The space has evolved into the perfect open floor plan environment for a software start-up, bringing Silicon Valley tech to the downtown.
During the facade renovation in 2011, around 1,000 honeybees plus a queen were discovered in the hollow core of the former trellis structure. With the help of our contractor, we were able to save and relocate the bees - a great win for local agriculture. Read more [link to bee blog post]
This gem of a retail space adjoins what is now Linden Tree Books, and was part of our remodel in Spring 2011 that improved the overall environmental sustainability of this two-unit retail building. As required by the Los Altos Green Building Standards, the building is 15% more energy efficient than is required by the state of California. This can be tricky to achieve in older buildings like this one; Passerelle had to insulate the roof and replace all of the lighting and HVAC system in order to realize these efficiency goals. A unique feature is the storefront that is clad in zinc tiles, which are each hand-folded in place to provide a modern interpretation of the brick facades common to downtown Los Altos. The full-height glass window-walls on both sides of the storefront will encourage retail and restaurant uses with attractive and enticing window displays, helping to enliven the State Street pedestrian experience.
Paperwhirl has been a Bay Area-based company since its inception in 1979. They specialize in custom invitations and announcements, and carry luxury stationery brands such as Crane, William Arthur, Kate Spade, and Vera Wang. Paperwhirl also offers a large selection of trendy and unique gifts that are perfect for any occasion.
As is typical of our pop-up concepts, we applied a light remodeling touch, creating a clean, spare interior that frames and highlights the merchandise. To create a more expansive and light-filled interior, we white-washed the walls with zero-VOC paint and removed the existing ceiling tiles to increase the room's height. We installed modular recycled-content carpet tiles from Interface, a sustainably minded company seeking to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in its products. Additionally, the storefront window has been enlarged to allow passers-by a more enticing view inside.
359 State Street
359 State Street is our second “pop-up” retail shop in downtown Los Altos (see Skateworks project page). This particular tenant space has twenty-foot ceilings and an open floor plan that lends itself to public events such as lectures, group meetings and celebrations. We teamed up with Jeff Selzer, owner of both Palo Alto Bicycle in Palo Alto, and Bicycle Outfitter in Los Altos, to experiment with a vision for a new bicycle-retail concept in downtown Los Altos. Offering chic cycling apparel with lines like Rapha, and accessories rather than standard tubes and tires, the retail merchandise introduces Los Altans to the idea that anyone can become a cyclist, and a chic urban cyclist at that. As is typical with our pop-up concepts, we performed minimal improvements to emphasize the merchandise over the space. The interior now features sleek bead-blasted concrete slab floors, an open ceiling and exposed ducting. Additionally, bold graphics and an exterior mounted bicycle add visual interest, enticing passers-by to inquire within.