Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Featured Project - Boys and Girls Club of San Leandro

photo credit: David Wakely
The well-loved Boys and Girls Club of San Leandro was in need of renovation to continue serving the neighborhood youth in San Leandro and San Lorenzo when Siegel & Strain Architects revisited the facility in 2018. In addition to the much-needed upgrades, the Club leadership took the opportunity to reimagine their space to address the changing needs of the local teens they serve. The after school and summer programs traditionally offered by the Boys and Girls Club have shifted in recent years beyond traditional athletic-related activities to include academic support, technology support, workforce development, career exploration, and leadership development, as well as programs that foster social-emotional learning and mental health. Their renewed vision shifted to creating a teen-focused space built for multi-functional future use. The shift in programmatic focus, and input from the City of San Leandro, prompted a re-assessment of the spaces needed to serve these new programs and more appropriately utilize the building and the surrounding grounds.

Main room before
Main room after (photo credit: David Wakely)


Renovation often begins with re-envisioning. Common to most renovation projects, the team had a tricky puzzle to solve to optimize the space for teen programs and multi-functional future use. In the case of the Boys and Girls Club, the design team undertook a design “balancing act” approach to reconfigure the space with respect to several focus areas. 

Renovation services, based on our site-specific and sustainability practices, began with data gathering including staff interviews, surveys, systems assessments, and site visits. Our research helps to paint a picture of a “day in the life” of the current and future building users. This research is compiled and analyzed to create a spatial program document and basis of design, which provides our design team with their “design brief”. This juncture in the design process is an opportunity to identify and address inefficient or illogical design issues with the existing building and include any modern needs and efficiencies. The S&S design team held regular meetings with the Club leadership to share updates on the design development and reconnect with the shared project vision. Regular meetings allowed the team to field concerns regarding costs, incorporate evolving programmatic needs, and update donors on project progress. Areas of focus throughout the renovation process included:
Proposed Floor Plan - Reconfiguration of the floor plan “right-sized” program rooms and office/conference rooms to take advantage of previously underused space. Interior window systems and accordion glass room separators allow for borrowed daylight to connect interior activity spaces to the exterior. Restrooms and locker rooms were relocated to the interior of the building to allow for better separation of the Club space from the San Leandro Recreation Department’s pool. Reconfiguration of doors and walls was done until the design team and Club staff felt that the desired spaces, adjacencies, and level of flexibility were satisfactory.

Performance Upgrades - The building’s shell and majority of the window openings were maintained. Improvements were made to the building envelope to add thermal and acoustic insulation and high-performance windows to improve overall energy efficiency and reduce BART train noise in the interior spaces. Seismic upgrades, fire sprinklers, accessibility and security were also included in the design phase to fulfill a project goal of providing a safe space for all. Support Spaces - The kitchen and adjacent multipurpose room were upgraded to better support the existing gymnasium as an event space for functions beyond the typical Club use, such as graduations, crab feeds, community meetings, and receptions. The multipurpose room is ideally located between the gymnasium and the outdoor spaces to accommodate any kind of event in any season. The convertible space is one example of the multi-functional use of the new design and the maximization of square footage to adapt to the needs of the Club. Proposed Site Plan - Relocation of the Club’s primary entry from the north to the south side of the building, adjacent the City’s pool entry, allowed for the consolidation of parking, creation of a large outdoor activity and meeting space. Reconfiguration of the parking lot spaces eased drop-off and event overflow. This improved wayfinding for visitors, and additional signage and branding increased the Club’s visibility in the community. Outdoor Spaces - The new patios and lawn accommodate outdoor youth and community activities. The landscape includes an organic garden adjacent to the kitchen, drought-tolerant plants and stringed lights that provide a flexible outdoor extension of the Club’s teen lounge, and a stage and lawn for community concerts and presentations. All the new outdoor spaces support the Club’s desire to create safe spaces to foster the physical and mental health of the young people they serve.


The Club is now a gathering and learning space for San Leandro area teens, renovated as a space for opportunities, activities, a sports hub, and learning shop. With the arrival of summer, the new program rooms and meeting spaces are a vital community hub to support local youth during summer break. The facility upgrades and supported programs also help the Club to qualify for continuing after school program grants, and support continuing fundraising events like the Club’s upcoming 75th Anniversary “Evening of Exploration”. The combined efforts of the Club, project team, the local Community and their supporters have ensured that this space will support the next generation of community leaders and workforce development in the San Leandro and San Lorenzo area.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Brisbane Library earns recognition from local community and AIA San Francisco

 Sustainable project earns votes, award, and energy savings.

The newly completed Brisbane Library is a terrific example of the power of thoughtful, site- and climate-responsive design for communities. This community sought a new library that both stand out and fit in. The architecture team -- Siegel & Strain Architects and Karin Payson architecture + design -- delivered that and more in a compact 7,600 sf building on an 11,760 sf site.

Brisbane Library exterior
Brisbane Library exterior front view


Brisbane Library was designed to serve all generations in many ways. Daylight illuminates the community’s living room with a wide variety of places to sit with a book or to socialize with others. Flexibility allows adaptation to changing technologies and community needs. A community room can be a part of the library or separated for independent use in one large or a collection of a few smaller program rooms. The library and community room are designed to open into the courtyard or street-facing patios for indoor/outdoor experience.  

Brisbane Library community spaces


The project demonstrates sustainable water practices with on-site rainwater collection for irrigation, stormwater detention and low-flow toilet fixtures. Brisbane Library was included in our AIA 2030 portfolio to further our commitment to AIA’s carbon neutrality goals.

Brisbane Library sustainability model
Brisbane Library AIA DDx Energy Savings


The building has fans! Brisbane Library was recently selected by the Bay Area voting community for an AIA San Francisco Chapter People’s Choice Design Award.   

Friday, February 4, 2022

Siegel & Strain Architects has an opening for a Project Architect

Siegel & Strain Architects is a vibrant, award-winning, women-owned, 28-person East Bay firm with a diverse range of projects. We are a design- and research-oriented practice with a national reputation for advancing sustainable design. We work with innovative sub-consultants and use forward-looking materials and systems. Our portfolio includes civic and educational projects, camps and retreat centers, schools, recreational buildings, custom homes and historic buildings. Our work can be viewed at www.siegelstrain.com. Current projects in design include:

  • Several National Park Service projects including visitor centers and historic renovations.
  • Lab, office, and maintenance support facilities for local utilities.
  • Rehabilitation of former Coast Guard facilities to serve as affordable housing in West Marin.
  • A major addition to a church in Berkeley.
  • Civic, community, maintenance, and overnight camp facilities for the City of Berkeley.
  • Facilities in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
  • An urban campus in North Oakland for a community-serving organization.
  • A youth camp in Southern California.
  • Retreat centers for non-profit groups in Marin and Sonoma Counties.
  • A fire recovery project for a university field campus in rural Santa Cruz County

We typically work in collaborative teams of two or more people each with specific roles and responsibilities on individual projects. We are looking for a self-starting project architect to work on projects from pre-design through construction phase. 


  • Degree in architecture from an accredited architecture program
  • 5-7 years of experience in architecture offices 
  • Strong design skills
  • Ability to research,  problem solve, and iterate design solutions
  • Proficiency in Revit, AutoCAD, Sketch-up, and Adobe Suite 
  • Strong organizational, writing and interpersonal skills 
  • Experience preparing construction documents and details, particularly for Type V construction
  • Experience working with California building codes
  • Experience in consultant coordination
  • Experience on community-serving projects is a plus
  • LEED accreditation, green design experience is a plus
  • Experience working on re-use or historic buildings is a plus 
  • Proficiency in rendering and parametric programs is a plus
  • Proficiency in energy, daylighting or similar modeling/analysis is a plus
  • Licensure or progress toward licensure

SALARY is commensurate with experience. Benefits include nine paid holidays, paid time off, FSA, health insurance, professional development allowance, testing reimbursement, transit reimbursement, and 401(k) plan.


Please e-mail cover letter, resume, references and work samples. 

Format: PDF format required. No compressed files please.

Address to: resume@siegelstrain.com

Subject line: Project Architect


Monday, January 24, 2022

Henry Siegel & Larry Strain appointed to Friedman Visiting Professors at UC Berkeley School of Architecture for 2022 Spring Semester

Research, Advocacy, Design: It's All Architecture


In this live streamed event, Henry Siegel & Larry Strain will explore the intersection of design, research, and advocacy in their practice over the past 30 years.

Siegel & Strain Architects has designed a wide variety of projects for mostly institutional clients since the early 1990s. The practice has always combined site and climate-specific design with research on materials and embodied carbon and leading-edge sustainability. Their many community-based projects have been designed in close collaboration consultants, clients, and stakeholders. 

In December, the firm won its 100th design award—a 2021 American Architecture Award by Chicago Athenaeum for the Redwood Visitor Center. Both Larry Strain and Henry Siegel are graduates of the M. Architecture program at UC Berkeley. After graduating, both worked for William Turnbull and Donlyn Lyndon. Henry and Larry became partners, founding Siegel & Strain Architects in 1988.

If you would like to view the lecture, here is the link for the live event: https://vimeo.com/667359600.

You can find out more about the Friedman Visiting Professorship program here:  https://ced.berkeley.edu/give-to-ced/faculty-support/friedman-visiting-professorship/