Take it outside

Jackson_016It’s no secret that the view of San Francisco’s skyline is one of the many benefits of living or working in the city. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to take in the view by simply drawing back the curtains and looking out a window. The close proximity of neighboring homes and offices often results in a look at nearby architecture, but not much opportunity for the kind of relaxing outdoor living afforded to those residing in the suburbs. This closeness can also make it difficult to get the proper permits for the new construction of a traditional balcony. One way to make the most of your existing space while opening up your home or office to the world outside is with a roof deck.

Jackson_018A roof deck is precisely what it sounds like — a patio-like outdoor area built upon the roof of a structure. They can be designed to include gardens, dining areas, hot tubs and pretty much anything else you might find in a traditional outdoor space. But while simple in concept, proper roof decks require careful design and permits of their own.

The San Francisco Planning Department website offers a glimpse into what is necessary when even considering a new roof deck. In short, due to zoning restrictions, the application may involve several pre-application steps, and even notification of your intentions to some or all of your neighbors.Jackson_017

There are a number of things to consider before a roof deck permit can be approved, including the proposed height and appearance of the deck, its potential environmental impact, the historical significance of the existing building, and the concerns of your neighbors. Basically, San Francisco wants to make sure your relaxing outdoor area is safe, non-invasive and attractive, and you want to ensure your new roof deck contributes to both your comfort and the property’s long-term value.

Lucky for you, De Meza + Architecture is well-versed in roof deck design. We know what the Planning Department is looking for, we know how to maneuver through the red tape, and we know how to maximize the space to ensure you get the roof deck your neighbors will envy.

Tell us what kind of roof deck you’re looking for, and we’ll show you a new way to enjoy San Francisco’s skyline.

Modern design just isn’t what it used to be.

Contemporary DesignOne word many people use to describe the overall feel of their ideal design is “modern,” especially when the design is meant to update an older space. What they typically mean is they want the style and characteristics of their new space to be current and recent. They want something contemporary. “Modern” is a funny word when used as an identifier of style. Historically speaking, modern describes the span of time around the years 1500 to 1800. But kitchen and bathroom fixtures from that time period haven’t yet come back into vogue, and their electrical and lighting designs really wouldn’t meet current building codes.

In the design world, modern describes a specific style movement that was considered “contemporary” from the 1920s through the 1950s. Carefully selected elements from the modern era, as well as those from various other design periods, are often brought together cohesively by present-day designers.

By those same design world definitions, contemporary describes the time period between the 1980s and now, whenever “now” happens to be. If represented on a timeline, it’s typically preferred that contemporary design sits a little closer to the now side than the one bookended by Reagan’s move into the White House. Technically speaking, unless there is a mass shift by the design community at large to either go back in time or far ahead into our estimated future, contemporary design, by its very definition, will be “modern” as long as there is a now for which it to refer.

It’s all complicated stuff.

Luckily, the DM+A team keeps itself up to date on current and emerging trends in architecture and design. We study and research current popular designs, and we know what’s needed in order for those designs to meet strict building codes. We’re watching the trendsetters, but our work is accessible enough to set trends of our own. We know hip and with it and chic and sophisticated and cool. In short, DM+A knows contemporary.

But we also know modern.

“What are these? Houses for ants?”

IMG_0797IMG_0731Yes, actually, if not eaten soon, those tiny buildings may indeed house ants. Today, however, they’re occupied by marshmallow snowmen, gummy bears and various other sticky sweets with which the youngsters chose to adorn their creations during this year’s annual Gingerbread House Decorating Party at Edgewood Center for Children & Families. All year long, we’re the creators. Guided by our clients’ specific needs and desires, we help transform their projects into beautiful and unique commercial or residential spaces. We’re great at what we do and we’re thankful so many people continually place their trust in our architecture and design services. But once a year, we look forward to throwing the building codes out the window and handing complete creative control over to the children of Edgewood.

We supply the basic gingerbread structures, the candy-coated chocolate building blocks and the adhesive sugar icing. The children supply the design skills and all the labor.

Wasting no time with meticulous measuring, and with very little regard for structural integrity, the children got to work this year renovating their plain gingerbread houses into edible works of art. We got to enjoy the creative process as spectators, our roles relegated to little more than replenishing the supplies of candy canes and gumdrops that were used as wall beams and multicolored roof tiles.

Though we had no expectations until that final peppermint candy was iced into place, this party is an old tradition for us, and one that everyone involved looks forward to every holiday season.

More than twenty years ago, the first Gingerbread House Decorating Party took place at Edgewood, a center here in San Francisco that serves children and families who have experienced traumatic stress leading to learning disabilities, mental illness and debilitating behavioral issues. Since 2008, our own Gregg De Meza has spearheaded the annual party, aided by a crew of helpers made up of DM+A’s staff, family and friends.

This party is more than just an afternoon of smiles, laughter and the inevitable sugar high. It’s about appreciation for opportunities — the opportunities Edgewood helps to afford to their children and families, and the opportunity we’ve been afforded to do what we love every day here at DM+A.

And, already, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to do it all again next year.

5 YRS in the Making

Rachel1_resizedBlocks_1_edited5 years ago, I quit my architecture job with no prospects in place.  I knew I needed out.  The job felt more like AutoCAD boot camp than a place where I could grow as a promising architect.  I flew home for a few weeks to be with family and returned ready to take the open architectural positions by storm.  I have always been a go getter and this time I knew I wouldn’t settle for a place which pushed you so hard beyond your capacity, you forget why you even got into this profession.  I knew I wanted to be somewhere that I could learn and enjoy working.  During my search I came across an ad on Craigslist that, I have to say seemed bogus at first, because it was a hiring agency, which I wasn’t used to.  Through my discussions with the agency they explained the open position and the firm De Meza + Architecture.  I interviewed and liked the people I met, plus the firm was expanding and had just moved into a new office and were excited about the possibilities.  This mimicked my own life, as I had just moved to a different neighborhood and wanted my life in the Bay Area to become what I envisioned it could be.  I accepted the position as architectural designer/drafter and was invited to their open house party for their new office.  That was definitely a change to my last job.  A friend and I went and we enjoyed margaritas and tacos on the roof of the office space.  How cool was that! Needless to say, I started work and learned the ropes.  Over the 5 years I have seen co-workers come and go.  I saw changes in clientele and in the office setting. Over that time I grew into a role of managing projects.  I always try to find ways to be more efficient or strategic.  No matter the scale of the project, I always wanted it to be perfect.  One thing I have learned over these years is that being perfect is impossible, and that I will be more focused on doing the best job I can and ask that of anyone I am in charge of.  This has allowed me to become a more rounded designer and manager.  If I was at another firm, I don’t think I could have gained as much experience as I have at DM+A.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is the unique office culture DM+A has to offer.  Where else would the boss take us out for ice cream because a power outage?  Or where we would do pot lucks for lunches or happy hour at the office. Or get to see slideshows of trips anyone went on.  For my 5 year anniversary, Gregg treated us to dinner, drinks and yes, of course dessert at Bix in San Francisco - a must try. There is never a dull moment at DM+A and they have become my family away from home.   This job has introduced me to some of my favorite people to be around.

So what’s in store for the next 5 years?  I will obtain my architectural license, there will probably be some changes of clientele, new projects, experiences…and of course more of the unconventional office culture I have come to cherish while at DM+A.


Help us help you help them

Hey people, now is your chance to bid on a DM+A consultation AND help a worthy organization continue their important works.  We’re participating in the 2011 ALRP Online Auction by offering  an Architecture and Interior Design consultation for a room of your choice. 

DM+A is proud to support Aids Legal Referral Panel (ALRP) and to join in on the fun of ALRP’s big annual fundraiser.  All proceeds from the auction will go to directly support the group’s mission to provide free or low-cost legal services for people with HIV / AIDS.  You can bid either online until October 17th or live and in person at the Live Auction Reception on October 19th in San Francisco at the War Memorial Building.  So bid, and bid often.

Fresh Meat

Hey everybody, we’ve pushed some new projects up onto our recently spiffed up website.  We’ve responded to great feedback and made our portfolio section easier to navigate and enlarged the images in this section for better viewing.  New projects include a gut renovation (Daly Mansion), a home office (SF Home Office), and an executive conference room (Oracle CVC).  We’ll have a few new projects to add in the months to come.  Stay tuned.

They Don't Build 'em This Way Anymore

Even though Saturday was grey and gloomy the sun came out on Ocean Beach for the Leap's 27th Annual Sandcastle Contest. The sunshine came in the form of 500 plus kids and their families, more than 25 Architectural firms, and over 100 Construction Industry companies all working together to build 25 glorious sandcastles. The theme this year was "Sand Francisco" and the subjects were all home grown wonders. From replicas of Alcatraz, to Lombard Street to ATT Park, San Francisco was immortalized in sand if for only a day. With Ryan Associates leading our group, DM+A worked alongside of William Duff Architects and Miraloma Elementary to create ATT Ballpark. I don't know who had more fun, the kids or the adults. Even though I wasn't in the best physical form to do manual labor (look for my blog on "House of Air" ouch!) I had a blast helping the grownups corralling my new best friends while they made giant mounds of sand, stomping and packing it higher and higher to form the grandstands and outfield. When the bulk of the grandstands were complete the kids constructed all sorts of cool ballpark sculptures in sand like the famous Coke bottle slide, McCovey Cove and assorted ball park features. Of course there were entire cities of drip castles skyscrapers. You can only corral kids for so long, you know!

Even though this contest was for amateurs only the fun was first class, prizes will be given out October 20th at the after, after, after after party. Look for our blog from that event in the coming weeks.