For decades, the residents of Yountville, California, a rural town in Napa County, relied on a small 1920s-era community hall and a hodgepodge of rented spaces to host community events. The hall was in need of renovation, ill-equipped to support art classes and lacking in outdoor recreation spaces. In addition, the town had outgrown its library. In 1998, after surveying residents’ needs, the municipality embarked on a planning process for an expanded town center at the heart of town.
The Yountville Town Center opened in November 2009, weaving new and existing buildings and outdoor rooms into a place designed to enrich community life. Designed by Siegel & Strain Architects and located on a 2.5-acre site on Yountville’s main street, the town center consists of a new 10,000-square-foot community center, the renovated 4,800-square-foot community hall, and the addition of a sheriff’s substation to the adjacent post office. The new community center houses a branch library, multipurpose room, teen center, and meeting and program spaces. It opens onto a new town square framed by the existing community hall and the post office.
Building exteriors blend with the rural character, while inside the spaces are light and airy. The large multipurpose room, 80 feet by 50 feet, is day-lit along the roof’s spine by a ridge skylight, which has splayed walls that soften the light as it enters the room. A unique combination of Douglas fir trusses and cables enables the roof’s structural support system to have a minimal presence in the room and avoids blocking daylight from above. A large, covered porch of red cedar on two sides of the town square connects the community hall and community center, providing shade in the summer. Barn doors extend the multipurpose room onto the adjacent barbecue patio.
Targeted to achieve a LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council and to achieve energy savings of 44% over Title 24, the design integrates a range of green features. Walkways and bike paths connect the center to surrounding neighborhoods and main street activities. Exterior sunshades, a highly insulated building envelope, and “cool” standing seam metal roofs reduce energy use.
Energy-efficient mechanical systems are integrated with ground-source heat pumps for heating and cooling. A building integrated management system takes advantage of the temperate climate by opening skylights and windows on days with mild temperatures. Operable skylights, controlled by CO2 and rain sensors, and operable windows provide natural ventilation and balanced natural illumination.
Roof-mounted photovoltaic laminates on the new and existing buildings supply energy. Water-conserving plumbing fixtures, harvested rainwater, drip irrigation, subsurface irrigation, and drought-tolerant native plants further reduce water use. The existing parking lot was regraded to slope naturally so that rainwater could be harvested in a bioswale. Overall, site design reduces storm runoff by 40% over preconstruction conditions.
Building materials were selected to minimize life-cycle impacts and provide light and airy interiors free of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds. Buildings feature durable, recycled content cement-fiber shingles and metal roofs. The new building’s red cedar cladding and Alaskan yellow cedar sunscreens and entrances are regionally harvested. Slatted wood ceilings are locally sourced white pine, and the existing community hall’s oak floor was reused. Over 75% of the wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Sustainability may not have been stated as part of the original vision, but the desire to incorporate green design grew over time as the project developed, championed by both civic leaders and the community. Now Yountville has a new “front porch,” bringing together residents of all ages while blending an agrarian vernacular with time-honored sustainable practices.
Over 75% of the wood used in the project is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified and for the most part from within 500 miles of the site. The buildings are framed with FSC lumber and plywood. The wood for the slat acoustical ceilings and wall paneling comes from a certified forest in Chester, CA. Western Red Cedar used at exterior porches is also FSC from southern Oregon. The wood sunscreens are Alaskan Yellow Cedar from Washington, chosen for durability and coloring; it weathers to a light silvery gray, reflecting daylight into the buildings and porch ceilings. While not regional, the hardwood maple flooring in the multi-use activity room is also FSC certified.
High-recycled content materials include cement fiber siding, recycled metal roofing and structural steel, cellulose insulation, carpet tile and acoustic ceiling tiles.
All of the concrete on the project contains slag, a waste product of the steel industry, which replaced more than 60% of the Portland cement. The high slag mix results in a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional cement mixes, and yields a much stronger concrete.
Low VOC and Non-Toxic Materials
Materials were selected throughout the project for their low VOC and non-toxic attributes.
All paints, coatings, applied finishes and sealants meet or exceed the air quality standards of the Southern California Air Quality District, and are formaldehyde-free. Composite wood products have no added urea-formaldehyde.
+ Project credits / data
Architect: Siegel & Strain Architects
Location: Yountville, VA
Client: Town of Yountville
Date of occupancy: December 2009
Gross square footage: 20,000
Construction cost: $9.8M
Contractor: Swank Construction
Photographer: David Wakely Photography
› AIA San Francisco Citation Award for Energy & Sustainability
› 2011 California Woodworks, Green Building
› 2010 Savings By Design & AIA California Council Award of Honor
+ Project Team
Structural Engineer: Endres Ware Architects Engineers, Berkeley, CA
Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing: Timmons Design Engineers, San Francisco, CA
Civil Engineer: Coastland Civil Engineering, Santa Rosa, CA
Landscape Architect: John Northmore Roberts & Associates, Berkeley, CA
Lighting: Alice Prussin Lighting Design, Berkeley, CA
Commissioning: Enovity Inc. San Francisco, CA
Specifications: Topflight Specs, San Francisco, CA
Construction Manager: Pound Management, Oakland, CA