Congratulations to Hamilton + Aitken Architects (H&A), whose Maritime Center earned them an Honor Award for Historic Preservation at the AIA San Francisco's 2014 Design Awards. The program celebrates outstanding achievements in architecture and design by Bay Area individuals and organizations, as well as professionals from other places who contribute to the framework of the local built environment.
Built in 1943 to provide childcare for Rosie the Riveters working in nearby shipyards during World War II, the Maritime Center in Richmond, CA was the first publicly funded child development center in the United States. While constructed as a temporary structure to fulfill a wartime need, the center remained in continuous operation for over 50 years. However, the original building lacked a concrete foundation and had settled unevenly over time, making it structurally unsound. It had also fallen into disrepair, having been abandoned for several years.
San Francisco-based H&A rehabilitated the center while adapting it for new uses and achieving LEED Gold for Schools Certification. The Maritime Center re-opened as a multi-use educational facility: a K-2 charter school (Richmond College Prep), a nonprofit headquarters (Richmond Community Foundation), and a National Park Service site with a preserved classroom open for public tours.
"This project connects today’s generation to my parents’ generation, bringing a unique bit of Homefront and WWII history to life right where kids are learning," said H&A's Principal Chad Hamilton, AIA. "It was a great honor to get to work on such a fascinating and multi-layered project. Animating spaces with meaning, revealing their unique stories, and making that available to the building’s users enhances the built environment, which is always what our firm strives for."
Established in 1992 by Hamilton and Susan Aitken, H+A’s primary focus is education and public facility design. H+A views public facility design as an opportunity to spark imagination, support institutional identity, and enhance performance. "We believe that good design grows out of the human use of space," says Hamilton. "Rather than imposing a specific style or ideology from the outside, we develop designs that evolve from program and the way people use and enjoy space. Our designs are uniquely appropriate to the client, the natural surroundings, the site, and the community involved."
Hamilton adds that the biggest challenge for the Maritime Center was the historic preservation of the fabric of the building while meeting LEED Gold requirements. "Vectorworks software's integrated data functions helped us quickly quantify and demonstrate LEED requirements such as the amount of structural and interior building reuse, the percentages of recycled and local materials and FSC-certified wood, as well as daylighting and energy calculations," he says. "We used the software's BIM modeling capabilities to visualize how our sustainable strategies could work in concert with the project’s preservation efforts – restoring and adding skylights; bringing back glazed walls and doors to the classrooms; and saving features such as the original exit slide from the second story. In addition, our 3D models helped us visualize design options with our staff, the client, and the building’s users."
Hamilton also compliments Vectorworks software's ability to give his firm an advantage when it comes to creating clear, concise, and bid-ready documents. "The software allows us detect clashes and errors in the model before they occur in the field where they are costly. This helps our public projects stay on budget and on schedule, which keeps our clients coming back."
Photos courtesy of Eric Chiu.