Case Studies

Agora at South Main, Walnut Creek – BŌK Modern LLC & NC2 Studio

Advanced architectural metals and custom features add personal touch to new multifamily development

Located in Walnut Creek, California, a busy East Bay suburb of sprawling San Francisco, a five-building, mixed-use multifamily housing, commercial and retail development is quickly taking shape. Agora at South Main Apartments, in the Newell Village, is a contemporary urban center with five buildings. The complex features spacious apartment homes, high-end finishes and an array of amenities, including 35,000 square feet of shopping and dining at the street level, a fitness center, sundeck with pool and spa, a clubhouse with a double-sided fireplace, a full kitchen and much more.

The project’s distinguished architecture and design has been spearheaded by NC2, a native San Francisco firm. NC2 has made its name in large-scale master planning and residential and mixed-use developments throughout the Bay Area. NC2 is the mother firm to BŌK Modern LLC, a company specializing in architectural metal design and supply, known for its custom-made balcony assemblies, railings, patio dividers and decorative architectural façade metals.

Agora at South Main

Delivering value and character in architectural design

Founded by Russ Naylor, a veteran architect, inventor and general contractor, BŌK was developed in response to a value engineering need for custom railings in multifamily projects. The company’s approach replaces standard pipe railing and delivers superior architectural design and value.

BŌK sought to answer two questions: what makes custom railings so expensive, and why aren’t there alternative railings available?

Naylor says the “eureka moment” came when his design team decided to take a sheet of flat metal and strategically laser cut it and fold the structure directly into the panel. By utilizing advanced computer automated equipment and eliminating manual welding and grinding, BŌK’s panel process reduces the amount of labor and keeps the original customer design intent for less than the cost of the traditional pipe railing. The company has designed architectural metals for major clients, including Amazon’s offices, Starbucks locations, projects for the Holiday Inn and more.

“Our signature is really every job we take on is a custom job; everything we build is going to be built to fit precisely,” explains Kevin Hui, project and products manager for BŌK on the Agora project. “Anything we make — balconies, assemblies, railings, patio dividers and decorative screens — each project is a custom project for us.”

Serving as the link between the general contractor, Deacon Corp, and the architect, NC2, BŌK is working to deliver this custom-fit promise at Agora, with aesthetically pleasing, integral components. The architectural style is modern in form and material use, yet remains traditional in proportion and scale with romantic Juliette balconies, extensive use of French doors in lieu of windows, laser-cut metal detailing, streamlined horizontal louvers and a strong cornice expression of trim and brows. This sleek modern appeal and the use of greens and muted grays in the façade, complete with lush landscaping and a garden podium, add a town-and-country feel to Agora.

“For us the challenge hasn’t been in terms of our product — it’s in the construction detailing, and finding the best methods to get our products up,” explains Hui. “There are so many different facets of the project we need to fit our products into and because we’re part of the finishing trades, our deadlines are always a moving target, which has been a challenge. From the ground floor to the rooftop level, we’re always thinking about the details and there are so many things to keep track of. If anything changes, you really have to be on top of your game. We’re lucky to be doing this with NC2 within the same studio space.”

Currently the Agora is in the final phases of construction; stucco and painting trades are finalizing work and BŌK is set to have all architectural finishes up by April. “We’re more than halfway complete in our installation,” adds Hui.

Agora at a glance

The inspiration for the five-building project comes from merchant residences situated over shops in small European villages. The street level is reserved for retail-restaurant space and the remaining three floors are clusters of different-sized residential units connected by open bridges and completed with a traditional clock tower.

Residential and retail space is clearly defined and separate, but also complementary. The scale of the retail is further broken down to create a more intimate and calming shopping experience without the hustle and bustle of a typical downtown retail center. The residential garden units are situated on a quiet, well-landscaped garden podium.

“It’s been a long time coming,” says Hui. “I’ve been on this project from the start — back in 2013 when we first completed the bid. It’s amazing to see the whole thing come to fruition.”

By spring 2016, the Agora at South Main Apartments will open, offering spacious, beautifully executed apartments and unique architectural elements designed and delivered by the experts: NC2 and BŌK Modern LLC.

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Spring 2018



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