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Ford Assembly Building

It is both heartening and ironic that the rehabilitation of Richmond’s hulking industrial ruin not only saved an historic landmark from the wrecking ball, but also converted an icon of the early 20th C fossil fuel industry – i.e. a vast auto plant – into a model of 21stC sustainability and renewable energy. Following the car factory era, further incarnations included a WWII tank factory “manned” by Rosie-the-Riveters. The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake devastated the edifice; numerous developers failed to revive the building, and its rehab was widely deemed financially unfeasible. Fortunately, the 525,000 s.f. project was made economically possible through the combination of the final developer’s vision and a timely tax credit program.

The rehab architects endeavored to make the rejuvenated mixed-use building ‘of our time’ while consistent with NPS and SHPO preservation standards. The new waterfront venue is a popular regional event magnet – it is blessed with views, airy spaces, and gorgeous light. The events at the venue are diverse: orchestras, dances, circuses, weddings, graduations, etc. North of the venue the building houses company offices for solar power, recreational equipment, and other businesses. The offices retain the building’s industrial features – a massive shell, continuous windows, floods of daylight, and waterfront legacy while providing a modern sensibility. New interventions focus on customizing the wide spaces within the existing industrial shell, with installations of lighting, furnishings and circulation elements.

Energy Measures/Onsite Renewable Energy: The AIA 50% energy-use reduction goal is exceeded thanks to two aspects: 1) rooftop solar pv panels; 2) design exploiting daylight, natural ventilation & cooling. A series of skylights in the sawtooth roof created the luxuriously ‘daylit’ car factory maximizing year-round natural daylighting. 90% of spaces in the building exploits the skylights and continuous industrial sash windows with panoramic views. This planning of office tenant areas locate glass faced private offices near the core of the floor plan, and open work/circulation spaces adjacent to windows.

Fortuitously, the south facing angled sawtooth configuration had been ideally oriented at an angle optimal for solar panel efficiency decades before the advent of solar power. In an arrangement between the solar power tenant and the owner, a 1-megawatt high-efficiency solar power system is installed on the building’s sawtooth roof. Through a Power Purchase Agreement with the owner, the solar power company – the largest tenant in the building, occupying more than half of the building, purchases output from the system to make their offices and on-site manufacturing operation 100% solar powered. The project also provides solar power for the other major tenant: 100% of the recreational equipment company’s annualized electrical needs are solar powered. Hence, solar energy dramatically reduces dependence on fossil fuels, and along with energy efficient lighting and equipment, far betters the AIA goal to halve the building’s fossil fuel sourced energy consumption. The solar power company’s % Energy Reduction based on Energy Star Target Finder: EPA % Energy reduction = 65%.

Notable Accomplishments

  • 100% solar powered
  • a model of 21stC sustainability and renewable energy
  • EPA % Energy reduction = 65%

Award Credit

Eddie Orton, Chairman
Orton Development Inc.
1475 Powell Street
Emeryville, CA 94608
Design Architect
Marcy Wong, LEED AP, Partner
Donn Logan, FAIA, Partner
Kent Royle, Project Manager
Ravi Kanitkar, Principal
The Crosby Group (structural)
726 Main Street
Redwood City, CA 94063
Landscape Architect
Bill Callaway, Principal
SWA Group
2200 Bridgeway Blvd.
Sausalito, CA 94965
General Contractor
Bruce Hammon, CEO
Dalzell Corporation
2434 Chestnut Street
Oakland, CA 94607
Structural Engineer
Gregory P. Luth & Associates
Greg Luth, Principal
Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Design Studio, Inc.
Dorel Anghel, Principal
Furnishings Consultant
Ross Craig Workshop
Ross Craig, Principal
Plumbing & Electrical Engineer
Mechanical Design Studio, Inc.
Dorel Anghel, Principal
Lighting Consultant
Architecture + Light
Darrell Hawthorne, Principal
Accoustic Consultant
Charles M. Salter Associates
David Schwind, Principal
Rendering & Modeling
Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects
Justin Tang


Edward Dean, AIA, LEED-AP
Harley Ellis Devereaux
San Francisco, CA

Dean is director of the San Francisco office of Harley Ellis Devereaux, which is committed to a low-energy design approach, or a zero net energy approach when possible, for every project undertaken by this branch office. Before joining the firm in 2008, he was lead designer for major projects at a number of leading California design firms, including Esherick Homsey Dodge and Davis (EHDD), Zimmer Gunsul Frasca and NBBJ Architects.

Projects include the addition to the Main Library at UC Berkeley (early example of a living roof) and, currently, a zero net energy public library for the City of Berkeley. His involvement in low energy building design has been consistent throughout his professional career, starting as a regular member of the design faculty in the Department of Architecture at UC Berkeley for ten years.

His special interest is in daylighting design; in 2006, he was a presenter at the Greenbuild Conference in Denver for a major session entitled Daylighting Intensive.

Larry Hoeksema, AIA
Architects Mosher Drew
San Diego, CA

Hoeksema is President (since 1997) of Architects Mosher Drew in San Diego, having joined the firm in 1979. Beginning his higher education experience in Civil Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he completed his formal training, receiving his Bachelor of Architecture, at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.

He is active in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) having served in various Board Positions and as President of the San Diego Chapter in 1995. Statewide he has served on the Board of Directors for the AIA, California Council for five years and as served Advisor to the Academy of Emerging Professionals for three years.

He currently serves as President of the San Diego Architectural Foundation and on the NewSchool of Architecture and Design’s, Advisory Board.

Jason A. Silva, AIA, LEED AP
Partner, Design Principal
Dreyfuss & Blackford Architects
Sacramento, CA

Silva is a partner and design principal with Dreyfuss & Blackford Architects in Sacramento, California, focusing on civic, higher education and arts-related projects. Licensed in California with over 15 years of experience, he has overseen the design and construction of major projects throughout northern California.

Jason is active in the American Institute of Architects at the state level as board member of the Academy of Emerging Professionals (AEP) and nationally, as Regional Director for Young Architects Forum (YAF). Locally, with the Central Valley chapter of the AIA, Jason is involved in media and outreach, and sits on the Design Competition Committee.

He is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and attended Virginia Tech’s Washington Alexandria Architecture Consortium.

Peter Barsuk, AIA, LEED AP
Studio Leader, Project Manager, and LEED expert
Santa Monica, CA

Barsuk brings almost 20 years of experience in the design industry as an architect and green building expert. He has been involved in a wide variety of project types including commercial, education, civic architecture, health care and entertainment.

A Studio Leader, Project Manager, and LEED expert at Gensler, Peter often gets called in to assist clients with LEED certification and documentation processes for various project types.

As a leader in Sustainable Development, Peter continues to serve as a board member for the USGBC Los Angeles Chapter and educate his colleagues at Gensler on the LEED rating system and the practices of sustainable design.

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