Cathie Anderson: Skyscrapers to offer architecture overview

Published: Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012 - 12:44 pm

For three hours this Monday, you can get penthouse views of the Sacramento Valley at a bargain-basement price.

Five skyscrapers will open upper-floor spaces for public viewing as part of the region's first Architecture Festival. This self-guided Top of the City Tour is one of about two dozen festival events designed to get local residents seeing the region with fresh eyes and exploring the value of architecture.

"Good architecture in hospitals can help us heal better," said Robert Lee Chase, California's deputy state architect. "In schools, it can help students learn better. At home, it can enhance our family life. … We … need architecture to survive, so everyone should demand that it be as good as it can be."

Chase also happens to be the president-elect of the Central Valley chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and he will be leading bike tours of buildings in or near midtown as part of the festival.

His tours and the Top of the City Tour are $10, but other events range from free to $25. Registration is required – and limited – for all events. Get the schedule at by clicking on the icon for Brown Paper Tickets in the center of the home page.

Two of the hottest tickets are Monday's Top of the City Tour and a Friday conversation with architect Kai-Uwe Bergmann, a partner in the Bjarke Ingels Group. The Copenhagen-based firm's award-winning designs marry lighthearted experimentation with practicality.

Chase, who has led bike tours for the Urban Land Institute for three years, said he hopes the festival gets people talking about the value of architects.

"If people care about architecture, they will try to understand it more, which will hopefully lead to higher standards of design," Chase said.

Bistro for a hospital

If Nancy Freitas wanted, she could invite every one of her 1,379 neighbors in Pilot Hill to stop by her office one day for a bite to eat.

Freitas, the director of nutrition and food services at Sutter Roseville Medical Center, and her staff of 80 serve an average of 1,000 meals a day. That doesn't include the meals prepared and delivered to patients' rooms.

The numbers are not what count for Freitas. She said she wants to be known for tasty food, affordable prices and top-notch customer service.

The latter was not without its challenges as the Sutter Roseville campus expanded to six buildings and 2,100 workers. Some employees had to walk 10 minutes to get to the campus' only cafe. If they bought hot food to go, it cooled on the way back to their desks.

This week, Freitas solved the challenge with the soft opening of the Back Street Bistro. This cozy cafe completes the $8 million expansion of the Sutter Rehabilitation Institute, known on this sprawling campus as Building 6.

Mark Ross, director of the ambulatory surgery center, sat down at the new eatery Thursday for lunch with a colleague. As he left, he reported to Freitas that it had been only 25 minutes since he left his desk. "I had the chicken quesadilla, and it was excellent," he said. "It was hot because they make it right here, and it hasn't been sitting around."

Entrees sell for $3.50 to $6, Freitas said, and she's had residents from Sun City in Lincoln come for the soup, made from scratch and sold for $2 to $4.

Freitas' staff served 760,106 meals last year, exceeding the numbers at Sutter General and Sutter Memorial hospitals.

Sure, that's impressive, Freitas said, but what the staff remembers is that when they sent her a last-minute email requesting a candle to celebrate a doctor's birthday, she came through for them.

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