A local architect shares his thoughts on some of Sacramento’s most interesting spaces.
By Catherine Warmerdam
Photography by Wes Davis
IT IS BUILDINGS, perhaps more than any other artifact, that create a sense of place in a city or town. The architecture of our built environment—those settings where we work, sleep, worship or socialize—tells the story of who we are as a community and what we value.
It was this notion that prompted Sacramento Home to ask Jason Silva, partner and design principal at the highly regarded architecture firm Dreyfuss + Blackford, to describe three places in Sacramento that, through their unique design, reveal something about our city and ourselves. His choices vary widely in their aesthetic, but they share a common element: a sense of unpredictability.
“I’m actively watching to see what spaces reveal, not necessarily looking for anything in particular,” says Silva when asked how he scrutinizes a work of architecture. “I’m looking for that which isn’t typical, the unexpected.”
Here’s a place that blurs the line between nature and architecture to wondrous effect. “The building is so simplistic,” says Silva. “It’s basically concrete and glass. But its form, the way that it leans back away from the street and opens itself up with the large atrium inside… is in and of itself natural and inviting. It’s not a matter of the interior being wrapped in gypsum board and paint,” he adds. “The inside reflects the outside, both landscapewise and materialwise, so it creates that bridge to a more naturally connected environment.”
This building, which is a graceful specimen of modern architecture, was completely redesigned nearly two decades ago by a prominent Los Angeles firm. “It stands out as an extremely detailed and well-executed example of architecture,” says Silva. “But it has subtlety in its execution in that the detailing is done for a purpose and unnecessary ornament is avoided.” He adds that “the details are not left to chance; they’re all resolved—the gate, the lettering alcove—but it’s done in a really elegant way with relatively simple materials.” Owner Emil Tanghetti, who commissioned the redesign, calls it “a great space to work in and something I’m proud of.”
This inviting courtyard, which sits at the intersection of two renovated buildings occupied by a coffee shop and a wine bar represents “a nexus of opportunities,” says Silva. “The space is both open to the street yet partially protected from the adjacent freeway and higher volume streets. It’s like creating the most pleasantly pedestrian space inside of a typically auto-centric environment. There’s a little rawness to it, which helps keep it real. You’re engaged with the street a little bit, but you’re also tucked away.”