Rebuilding Together 2017

Last weekend William Maston Architect & Associate employees, friends and family volunteered with Rebuilding Together – Silicon Valley. This Fall’s Rebuilding Day was a tremendous success where we participated alongside 1000 volunteers in helping 38 senior and/or disabled homeowner families who are now living in safer and healthier homes and 2 non-profit organizations that have had their facilities upgraded. Our team was assigned to San Jose, where we helped by power washing, repairing the decks and stairs, installing new electrical equipment, grab bars and railings, painting, cleaning and fixing the facade.

 

Once again, we look forward to working with Rebuilding Together – Silicon Valley, and the next Rebuilding Days in 2018!

Written by Alec Huang 

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WMAA Top 17 Architects in the Bay Area

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WMAA has proudly been featured as a Top 17 Architect out of 206 in San Jose by Expertise. Expertise is a search engine similar to others such as Angie's List or Home Adviser where you can search for the best local experts in your area. The selection criteria consisted of reputation, credibility, experience, availability, and professionalism. 

A huge thank you to our amazing clientele and our wonderful staff for making this possible! 

Please see the mention below: 

https://www.expertise.com/ca/san-jose/architects

 

Second Harvest Food Bank

Last month William Maston Architect & Associates employees volunteered their time at Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Our team went down on a Wednesday evening after work and spent a couple hours working with many other volunteers to sort and pack fresh produce that had been donated. This produce was set to be shipped out the next day and delivered to local food banks and programs in the immediate area to serve our communities and families in need of help.

Second Harvest Food Bank is based in Silicon Valley and is one of the largest food banks in the nation, currently providing food to more than one quarter of a million people every month. Despite the immense wealth in Silicon Valley, and partly due to the high cost of living, hunger and malnutrition are pervasive. The Food Bank distributes nutritious food, including more fresh produce than any other food bank in the country.

Every year Second Harvest Food Bank distributes more than one million pounds of nutritious food each week to low-income people in need in every zip code of our service area from Daly City to Gilroy, and from the ocean to the bay. They deliver to shelters, pantries, soup kitchens, children's programs, senior meal sites, and residential programs.

Throughout the year, volunteers contribute over 310,000 hours of service, which saves Second Harvest Food Bank over $6.6 million in equivalent personnel costs.

The staff at WMAA is proud to be committed to donating our time and effort to help our surrounding community from needy families to those individuals who struggle to have a nutritious meal. In partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank we at WMAA will continue our tradition of helping those in need.

For more information on how to volunteer or donate or if you need assistance please visit their website at: http://www.shfb.org/

A Work Anniversary and A New Team Member

Last week we had the pleasure of celebrating two great milestones within the firm:  Priya Arora's One Year Work Anniversary and Brenda Garcia's first week as our most recent member of the team! We shared a fabulous lunch together just down the street at Vaso Azzurro Ristorante in honor of the special events. 

We encourage growth through reflection here at WMAA, and will be getting together this week for strategic planning for 2017. In that spirit, I asked Priya a few questions about her experience here over the past year. Here's her response:

Happy 1 year, Priya! What has been your favorite thing about working for WMAA since you started?
The best part of working at WMAA is the exciting & varied projects that I get to work on. It’s been so much fun and a very good learning experience.

Is there anything you've learned about architecture that you didn’t know before?
I got wonderful opportunities to work across the breadth of projects including project management, client interaction and working closely with the city. This has added a new perspective to my work.

What are you looking forward to during year 2?
I would like to continue designing exciting projects, along with learning various aspects of building construction.

Do you have any advice for our new hire, Brenda?
It’s a pleasure knowing Brenda. She seems very thorough and possesses vast experience. To Brenda, I would just like to tell you that the WMAA is a wonderful place to work. Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions and you will get a great response.

Is there anything else you want to add?
I am very thankful and fortunate to have Bill as my mentor on all my projects. I like his feedback on my designs. It has been a great experience working with Bill and WMAA team. Everyone is so encouraging. In addition, I like that WMAA encourages me to pursue IDP and ARE exams and also, keeps us informed with AIA seminars and tours - that adds to our social and professional growth.

Thank you Priya! We love having you as a part of our team and look forward to continued growth and development together. Our group is stronger because you are a part of it.

And Brenda, we look forward to getting to know you better, and offering a place for your skills and vision to soar!

Rebuilding Together Fall 2016

Earlier this year WMAA participated in Rebuilding Together with the Silicon Valley chapter and had such a great experience, we signed up again to volunteer on October 22, along with over 800 other volunteers to help repair and improve 27 homes in Santa Clara County. Mauricio Flores and Denise Forbes spent the day in San Jose and had this to say of the experience:

"Rebuild Day Fall 2016 was another great day. There’s always an eclectic group of people. Out of the 75,000 thousand volunteers and the 10,000 projects each year, I got a chance to work alongside the San Jose chapter of Engineers Without Boarders, students, retirees, as well as some skilled laborers. We all set aside our calculators and drafting programs and picked up brushes and paint buckets to help the residents of the Town & Country Mobile Village. On the project I was on, we repainted the exterior of the building, cleared out some weeds, refinished the main deck/stairs, as well as retrofit toilets and grabs bars to name a few. These types of improvements are what Rebuilding together is all about. Not only does it add value to the homes being work on, but more importantly, it adds value to lives of the people living in them. In many cases, it’s a section of our population with low/ fixed incomes. In a world of need, this manifestation of egalitarian ideals, that is Rebuilding Together, aligns closely to my heart of hearts. So, even though at the end of Rebuild Day my body was tired, my soul was replenished and can’t wait to do it again in the Spring!" - Mauricio Flores
"It was great to see so many people willing to give up a day of their weekend to help these elderly residents." - Denise Forbes

We look forward to the next Rebuilding Days of 2017!

 

Giving Back: a Habitat for Humanity

Giving back to the community is something we feel strongly about here at William Maston Architect & Associates. Bill Maston has a long history of donating his time and professional expertise all over the Peninsula and his team follows in his footsteps this year by partnering with Santa Cruz County Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley.

As architects, we inherently care passionately about creating quality environments for everyone - what better way to practice those values than volunteering with organizations that seek to provide safe homes for to those in need? We also love the opportunity to get out of the office and work one-on-one with contractors and tradesmen, physically building the details we often only experience from the design and drafting side of a project.

Lead by our Volunteering Manager, Mauricio Flores, we met with Habitat for Humanity early Saturday morning in Santa Cruz to work on a single family residence and accessory dwelling unit.

 

Mauricio had a great time framing the accessory unit while Denise Forbes and I, Leah Bayer, had fun installing plank lap siding to the main residence. The crew was very welcoming and patient with us as we learned from their many years of construction experience.

We loved working with the Habitat team and look forward to returning again soon!

(Next up: Rebuilding Together on October 22nd)

Green Design with WMAA

What is Green Architecture Anyway?

There's a lot of talk in today's world about "Going Green", "Being Green" and "Being Environmental Friendly"; what does this all mean? Interestingly enough, these are not new buzz words and have been an active part of the architectural community for years. However, many architects have overlooked the importance of it until our recent renewal and concern over global warming, energy conservation and the environment.

Architecturally, going green can mean many things. Not just meeting the guidelines of "LEED certification" or some other documentation process that evaluates your home or office building as being energy efficient.

As an architect, "Being Green" starts with good site planning and solar orientation. This orientation on many sites might mean as little as orientation of your roof planes, windows, doors and open spaces. This orientation may prove important to limiting solar access to the window openings and creating proper orientation for solar collectors, photovoltaic panels and other energy-saving roof top devices.

"Going Green" also means understanding what construction materials are considered renewable resources. For example, it only takes seven (7) years for bamboo to reach maturity and may take 80-100 years for oak to reach its maturity. From a "Green" standpoint, installing a bamboo floor would be more eco-friendly and "Green" than installing an oak floor. "Being Green" also means understanding how much energy it takes to manufacture a new product, reuse an existing product, or use an alternative product that limits your carbon footprint.

Part of the architectural process is not only good site planning, responsive design, but understanding appropriate use of materials as well.

Resurgence of Passive and Active Solar Architecture

Passive solar architecture has been an accepted element of design for thousands of years. Unfortunately for architects, this specific design element was lost in the 1890's with the advent of mechanical heating and air conditioning systems. It seems that architects forgot how to design buildings that breathe, cross-ventilate, give you the sun's warmth when you need it and keep it out when you don't. Incorporating passive solar elements into your design can be as simple as extending roof overhangs to protect windows, creating optimal window locations for cross-ventilation, solar orientation, natural light and placing the building correctly on site and using materials that absorb and retain heat (or coolness).

Active solar architecture generally focuses on mechanical means to both heat and cool your building. Most common examples in today's world include hot water solar collectors for swimming pools and house needs, photovoltaic panels that can be connected to your existing utility grid to offset your electrical costs with PG&E. Hot water collectors can also be used for radiant floor heating in your home. While initial construction costs for the radiant floor heating will be higher than conventional mechanical means, the long-term benefits reduce heating costs and helps make your house more "green". Additionally, radiant floor heating systems can be used for air-conditioning as well. Roof solar collectors can be used to expel the radiant heat in your floor on summer nights to cool your building during the day. Additionally, cool tubes in the ground below your home can provide air-conditioning as well. While many of these concepts are not new, they are, once again, in the forefront of examples that can be used in creating an energy-efficient home.