The former home of a Dairy Queen doesn’t seem like the sort of place that architects would snap up for their new offices, but Jonathan Hammond and Bruce Playle had a vision for the structure at 909 Fifth St. in downtown Davis.
Clients have sought out the two men’s firm, Indigo, Hammond + Playle, because of its creative and sustainable designs, and the pair saw their new headquarters as the right place to demonstrate that their principles would work anywhere. Their remodeled and expanded headquarters has scooped up prizes from the Central Valley chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Northern California chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.
“This building demonstrates the really good ways to build buildings for the future,” Playle said. “Just as an example, it is passively heated and cooled for the most part, and the tanks you see here are full of water and water holds heat very, very well, a lot better than air, and yet we use air-based systems to cool most buildings.”
The building council chapter’s awards are often dominated by Bay Area projects, noted Playle, but this year, the Sacramento region swept those awards. Indigo took the award for innovation. The California Department of General Services took the impact award for its leadership in reducing the state’s environmental footprint. And, Sacramento-based Mutual Housing California won the equity award for its work to develop sustainable living spaces for individuals living in poverty.
Indigo’s use so little energy, Playle and Hammond said, that they will be able to offset all their electricity consumption by installing solar panels. Once that’s done, he said, the former home of Dairy Queen will be a zero-net energy space.
Hammond explained: “We take energy from the outside environment and bring it into the building, whether it’s cooling energy or heating energy, so in the wintertime, we bring sunlight through these south-facing windows, and that heats up the inside of the building. And the excess energy from those south-facing windows heats up the…concrete columns, the water-filled thermal tanks, and of course, the concrete from the floor.”
Then in the summer, he said, they keep the heat out with overhangs and louvered windows that open automatically to let in cool air when the temperature outside is cooler than indoor temperatures. Those windows close in the morning when temperatures outdoor soar.
Hammond noted that they didn’t sacrifice esthetics for the sustainability features of the roughly 4,000-square-foot building. They moved into the building in 2014.
“We take great pride in our ability to sculpt buildings, which you see in the shaping of the buildings, the shaping of these straw-bale walls into curves, the creation of beautifully sculpted furniture and then finally over here is a sculpted column,” Hammond said. “I carved these first in plaster, made a fiberglass mold and then gave them to the construction crew who then cast these beautiful concrete columns.”
Indigo considers the different environmental advantages and challenges when they design any building, Playle said. Their work can be seen in police headquarters in Vacaville, the bus transit terminal in Vacaville and public art projects such as The Egg in North Natomas’ Westhampton Park. Right now, the Indigo team is designing a sheriff’s office in Marysville for Yuba County and an animal shelter in Auburn for Placer County.