Monday, December 26, 2011


Echigo-Matsunoyama Museum of Natural Science, Niigata, Japan by Tezuka Architects

Photo © Katsuhisa Kida
© Tezuka Architects
Photo © Katsuhisa Kida
©Tezuka Architects

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Here are 2 charts (© 2010 Build It Green) that simply portray how good design is key to creating comfortable, efficient, sustainable homes and buildings. For further information go to

Friday, December 2, 2011


Uncommon Brewers,,  in Santa Cruz has significantly expanded their brewery in Santa Cruz, CA. And their line up. Three of their tasty ones: Golden State Ale,  Siamese Twin, and Baltic Porter.
Why showcase Uncommon? Kumaran Design was brought in by the brewer Alec Stefansky to join Daniel Shermis, Shermis Construction, to facilitate this tenant improvement design, construction documents, and permitting. Including a tasting room. Kumaran Design does commercial, too!

Friday, November 18, 2011



1.10    Western Residential
    1.101 Bay Regional
    1.102 California Coastal        
1.11    Sculptural
    1.111 Organic
    1.112 Heavy Timber
1.12     Pacific + Asian
     1.121 Traditional Japanese
     1.122 Hawaiian
1.13     Emerging – Modern
1.14     Public Space
    1.1401 Sacred Space
    1.1402 Garden & Visitor Facilities
1.15    Commercial
    1.1501 Winery
    1.1502 Brewery
    1.1503 Office


2.10    Listen to our clients – This is Key!
    2.101 Needs
    2.102 Desires
    2.103 Budget
    2.104 Inspiration
2.20    Site/Context/Environment
           2.201 Siting
           2.202 Nature is fundamental
2.30    Light/Space Dynamics
2.40    Synthesis/Intuition
           2.401 Balance
           2.402 Subtlety is a core expression
           2.403 Intuition is the core of creativity
2.50    Sustainability/Green
    2.501 Passive Solar
    2.502 Certified Green Building Professional
    2.503 Membership + Continuing Education
2.403.1 Passive House California
2.403.2 Build it Green
2.403.3 USGBC
2.60     Applied Craft – Artisans
2.70     Humor!

Monday, November 7, 2011


Recently visited a remarkable, inspiring place in the middle of the Pacific. Here are several detail photos:

Imagine this - it is all hand carved in granite!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Scott Heeschen had many ‘green’ goals in mind. Together we took the approach to review, select and apply best practices recommended by Build it Green, LEED, the emerging Passive House standard and more. Certification was less important than practical design, application, detailing, and building well for effective results. 

In comparison:

- One Passive House metric is to meet the specific heating energy requirement of 4.75 k Btu/sf/yr.  Passive House Modeling for Scott's: 4.24 k Btu/sf/yr. 
- Green Point Rating is one defacto standard for many cities around the Bay Area. Palo Alto requires a minimum of 70 points up to 150 points depending on the size of the residence. Green Point Rating for Scott's: 239+
- LEED rating would fall just short of platinum because, among other reasons, the front door and the garage door are not fsc certified.

It can be said, in some ways, to design in sustainability was easier than the care required to build in sustainability. The Passive House standard, in particular, requires reducing air infiltration (or its opposite - air moving out of the home)  to an amount much lower than American and local practices are used to achieving. A committed builder eager to attend to details is highly recommended. 

The key builder for the Heeschen Residence:

Santa Cruz Green Builders  

See more about the Heeschen home in Campbell on our website.

Monday, October 10, 2011

THE FINAL TOUCH / Palo Alto - Part 2

Here is the second of two proposed entry gate concepts for a residence we designed in Palo Alto. The home was built in 2005. This gate or a fresh design will be installed sometime in the near future. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Renee’s home is an early sixties ranch. Quite nice for it’s era, but it is time. A major re design of the public spaces, particularly the kitchen, is the focus of this phase. Make the public areas larger, more open, more connected. Enhance the great view. Add a family room.  Make the kitchen bigger, actually efficient and in lovely French Country style.  And, if possible find a way to have a real front door. Now you go around the back of the house past the master bedroom.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

HEESCHEN RESIDENCE / Campbell - Before and After

Sometimes it is instructive to see the transformation. For an idea of what can be done . . . . 



See more about the Heeschen home in Campbell on the website.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Here is the first of two proposed entry gate concepts for a residence we designed in Palo Alto. The home was built in 2005. This gate or a fresh design will be installed sometime in the near future.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, James!

James Hubbell is turning 80 this week. There is a big celebration @ his home in Santa Ysabel, San Diego County today. I had the extraordinary opportunity to work with James to build the Sea Ranch Chapel. It is quintessential art and architecture.  I always learn from James. In a recent interview he shares: 

What kind of music do you listen to?
Schubert. Berlios. Mozart. I like Mexican music, too. I'm not that much into contemporary. Occasionally, because they sometimes play really interesting things. But I don't usually like it.
I sort of don't feel I fit into the contemporary world. I don't understand most of the artists, what they're doing or why they're doing it.
Do you feel that way at all about architecture?
A lot of it. You know how many glass buildings there are? You can see yourself, so it's narcissistic. And it reflects everything. It's an elusive thing. It's sort about how we think of ourselves. You know, a gothic building — half of it is shadows. Where with a contemporary building, there's hardly any shadow.
If you use shadow, then you're saying, "Mystery's OK." If you're afraid of shadows, you build a building that doesn't have any.
I have no idea if I'm right.

Interview by Kelly Bennett

See more of Jim Hubbell's work

Thursday, September 8, 2011


I recently had the opportunity to visit the new Morphosis office and design studio in Culver City. A most inspiring and creative place. Go to  and 

And check out their latest book:


Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Have you noticed the September 2011 edition of Dwell Magazine featuring Japan Style. Whether you like modern, craftsman, prairie, or? you might enjoy KATACHI, Classic Japanese Design by Takeji Iwamiya and Kazuya Takaoka, 1999, Chronicle Books.

Look to future posts re: my own experience and apprenticeship with traditional Japanese Building and Design.

About the box

We hear the expression "think outside the box" - but why be in the box in the first place!