SHED, a market, café, and community gathering space, celebrates the land, farming, food, art, and culture of northern Sonoma County.
By Scott Davis, Senior Designer, Jensen Architects
SHED, a 10,800-sq.-ft. market, café, and community gathering space located in Healdsburg, CA, celebrates the land, farming, food, art, and culture of Northern Sonoma County. SHED was inspired by the vision of its co-owners, husband-and-wife team Cindy Daniel and Doug Lipton, to create “a stronger connection to the land and the food we eat.”
A 2014 James Beard Foundation award winner for Outstanding Restaurant Design, SHED is a values-driven business emphasizing connection to community, stewardship of the land, creativity, curiosity, and sustainability. The SHED cafe has an open kitchen, a coffee bar, and a fermentation bar. Along with serving food, the enterprise also provides a wide variety of kitchen, farm, and garden supplies in its Toolshed room.
More than a restaurant and store, the destination is also a place to learn and gather. The modern-day grange regularly hosts educational workshops with local winemakers and food purveyors, along with screenings of cultural films, book signings, and music and dance performances.
Daniel and Lipton selected Jensen Architects, San Francisco, to help bring their vision to life. Central to the owners’ vision and the overarching design was a focus on sustainability. SHED’s pre-engineered metal building system, including thermally efficient insulated metal-panel cladding and a naturally ventilated and illuminated interior, formed the core of the design strategy. Jensen chose to use eco-conscious, locally available materials, suppliers, and tradespeople, further reinforcing this commitment to sustainability while underscoring the facility’s community-focused vision.
With the help of local erector Soule Building Systems, Santa Rosa, CA, the architect leveraged off-the-shelf components to create a modern, refined take on the region’s barn vernacular. The unconventional use of pre-engineered metal buildings (PEMB) created a multitude of spatial possibilities, along with material efficiency and cost effectiveness—qualities that express SHED’s ethos, literally and figuratively.
Jensen decided to use standing-seam insulated metal panels, which offer multiple advantages. Composed of 70% recycled steel, the lightweight, prefabricated panels were assembled to create a building shell that minimizes energy demands and material use. Used to construct the roof and the walls of the building, the panels provide thermal insulation, interior and exterior finishes, and critical waterproofing in a quick-to-install, energy-efficient, and low-maintenance package.
Comprising two thin layers of steel that sandwich a core of impervious, closed-cell polyisocyanurate foam insulation, the 42-in. wide panels were fabricated to specified lengths in a factory, complete with Zincalume (Steelscape, Rancho Cucamonga, CA) exterior finish and painted white interior finish. Once delivered to the jobsite, they were rapidly installed with minimal waste.
The panels run continuously over the outside of the building frame, with a male-female connection providing a water- and air-tight seal at each seam. The result is a well-insulated building envelope that eliminates the thermal bridging and air leakage associated with traditional framing and enclosure systems. From an aesthetic standpoint, the deep, sturdy seams create strong shadow lines and give relief and rhythm to the building volume. The Zincalume exterior requires no maintenance and will weather to a dull patina over time, similar to the weather-beaten appearance of a galvanized-steel garden pail.
The building, with its nine large roll-up doors, is designed to rely on natural ventilation during most of the year. An energy-efficient heating, cooling, and ventilation system, and a demand-sensitive kitchen hood activated and adjusted by sensors complement this passive strategy. Abundant glazing, shaded by deep overhangs and perforated metal screens, allows natural light in while tempering direct sun, lessening electrical demand for lighting and cooling. In addition, rooftop photovoltaic panels produce approximately one third of the building’s energy needs.
Keeping it Local
All of the wood used in SHED was local salvage sourced from Arborica, Marshall, CA. The exterior decking, fencing, wall cladding, and second-floor trellis are constructed of Monterey cypress, which is carried through in the structure’s interior to define the gardening section and cafe. The floor and walls in the coffee bar, stand-up bar, and event space are rendered in elm, the primary interior wood. In a nod to the utilitarian palette and its agricultural roots, slats of Monterey pine line the upper floor’s soaring ceiling. The larder casework and shelving, which features heavily figured patterns, is crafted from bay laurel, a local variety of myrtle.
SHED overlooks Foss Creek, a tributary of the Russian River and the focus of an ongoing restoration initiative led by Russian Riverkeeper, Healdsburg, CA, a nonprofit working to conserve and protect the river and its watershed. To minimize the restaurant facility’s impact, Russian Riverkeeper’s experts assisted with the design of the rain garden, a creekside riparian habitat that works to remove pollutants and minimize erosion. Roof drains, permeable paving, and other site infrastructure channel all storm water to the garden, which uses filtration and stores the water. The storage catch basin then slows the release of runoff into Foss Creek to manageable flow rates.
Optimizing the View
To preserve a sense of openness and community, SHED’s interior and exterior railings use stainless-steel cable infill and fittings from Feeney Inc., Oakland, CA. The railing assemblies are fabricated with stainless steel containing pre- and post-consumer reclaimed material, contributing to the overall sustainability. The lightweight railings are weather resistant and low maintenance.
Jensen looked at a number of products when considering the best option for the railings, initially considering a trellis-like arrangement that would enable plants to be mounted on the railings. As the design progressed, however, the architect realized that transparency and an unimpeded view was integral to the open design concept, and ultimately opted to go with Feeney’s CableRail products. The architect appreciated that the railings were customizable, easy to install, and heavy duty enough to stand up to the elements.
The CableRail kits with threaded terminal and self-locking Quick-Connect fittings were used for the horizontal cable runs, and custom-made cable assemblies with fixed-lock toggle and threaded terminal fittings were used for the vertical cables. The horizontal and vertical cables were then tied together with Feeney Micro-Cross clamps to create an open grid.
SHED’s distinctive architecture resonates with Healdsburg’s past while also engaging in its present day culture. Through an intuitive design, a prefab wine-country market hall was transformed into a relaxing and engaging gathering place for commerce, learning, and community.
Graphics For A Modern Grange
The notion of SHED as “modern grange” called for a robust and timeless graphic identity and program that used a utilitarian approach to communication, forms, and materials.
In the exploration of grange halls and historic general-store signage, a common theme emerged: many letterforms retained the character of the human hand, and this imperfection was celebrated. SHED typography was selected and crafted to create an eccentric but vital connection to a sense of place and community that defines rural and farm regions—a straightforward and resourceful way of life. Materials and fabrication methods were selected to emphasize a tactile experience, with rough chipboard and letterpress printing—and rich, vibrant colors—working in concert with the warm and inviting palette of the building’s interior.
At its core, the graphic program not only pays homage to rural traditions, but more specifically reflects the pioneering spirit of the Russian River Valley, whose legacy SHED’s founders seek to sustain and vitalize. The building’s primary signage, large-scale and hand-painted on the perforated metal façade, is in keeping with the vernacular traditions of barn signage, and retains traces of the artisan’s hand. Although large in scale, its light color and openness lend subtlety, complementing the building while respecting its setting.
Scott Davis, senior designer and project manager with Jensen Architects since 2004, received his Bachelor of Architecture from the California College of Arts, San Francisco, where he earned a year-long honors internship with Sydney-based Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects. At Jensen, he guides projects through all phases, helping to develop new solutions and systems.
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