When SunPower Corporation, a provider of solar cells and panels, chose three existing single-story concrete tilt-up buildings in San Jose to house its new headquarters, Valerio Dewalt Train Associates was called on to transform the grounds and buildings with photovoltaics and cutting-edge product development technology while enhancing opportunities for creative interaction among employees—all on a strict budget.
The 185,000-square-foot project provides office space for approximately 500 employees, with open workstations, private offices, and conference rooms. The facility also includes a fitness center, a full-service cafeteria, a corporate training center, and a customer briefing center. In addition, one of the three buildings houses a research and development laboratory with a class 1000 clean room and flexible general lab space for lab benches and testing equipment. Design/construction costs were kept to $80/square foot.
To facilitate interaction, the ratio of open workstations to private offices is 80/20, and the 6′ x 8′ workstations are only 30 inches high. To break up the expansive interiors, the design team introduced “cork clouds,” subceilings that define neighborhoods of workstations within the overall space, which has 14-foot-high ceilings. Collaboration areas with stools and tables are placed between open workstation areas and encircled with wooden posts below lighted panels. Conference rooms and private offices are consolidated along one wall, with lower grid ceilings.
To create visual drama economically, the design team specified wide linear swathes of carpet in two color patterns, black/gray alternating with an intense green. The design team also provided imagery of completed SunPower’s product installations for environmental graphics that enliven the walls of conference rooms, the customer briefing center, and the lobby.
The addition of skylights throughout brings in plenty of daylight, starting with the lobby’s 28-foot-long skylight. To make the most of the other skylights, which are six feet wide, the designers linked them to the dropped ceiling via cones that expand to twelve feet in diameter, greatly increasing natural light penetration. Walls within the space alternate five-foot sections of glazed and solid walls to enhance visibility and allow daylight to penetrate.
The project is targeted to achieve a LEED-CI Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Sustainable strategies include low-flow plumbing fixtures; bioswales in the courtyard that treat stormwater runoff; and an area with bicycle storage, changing rooms, and showers to encourage employees to bike to work. Modest structural upgrades to one of the buildings allowed it to accommodate rooftop photovoltaic panels, which are also placed on top of the new carport structures. In addition, the entry sign integrates vertically mounted photovoltaics.
+ Project facts
SunPower Corporation Headquarters
San Jose, California
Architect: Valerio Dewalt Train Associates
Project Team: Joe Valerio, David Rasche, Kevin Snook, Tom Daly, Anthony Valerio, Evan Fox, Alan Barker, Lauren Nakles
Location: 77 Rio Robles, San Jose, CA 95134
Client: SunPower Corp.
Date of occupancy: 5/2/2011
Gross square footage: 185,704 GSF
Site area: 508,591 SF
Construction cost: Withheld
Contractor: Webcor Builders
Consultants: Biggs-Cardosa: Structural Engineer, RBF:Civil Engineering, Outside: Landscape Architect, Steve Marshall Associates: Kitchen Design, Shen Milsom & Wilke: Acoustic engineering. MEP was design-build.
Key materials (type/brand): Acralight dome skylights and 28’ square skylight, Polygal polycarbonate panels, SunPower PV Panel Systems (403.34 kWP), Cork wall covering, Milliken carpet tile, Vinyl wall and glass graphics, Teknion workstation furniture system, Steel framed Glass PV chandelier at reception desk, Corian reception desk, millwork glu-lam wood posts, Skyfold motorized vertical expanding partition
Software used: Microstation, Maxwell Render, Adobe Suite, Microsoft Office Suite
Awards/certifications: Submitting for LEED Gold
Photographer credit: David Wakely
+ All images courtesy Valerio Dewalt Train Associates