Case Studies

BN Builders – 275 Brannan Street

Incorporating Pieces of the Past and LEED Gold Modern Efficiency

In the tragic 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which was followed by a massive fire, nearly 80 percent of the city was left in ruins. However, one building constructed only a year before the devastation remained among the rubble. “The first two stories of what’s now called 275 Brannan were built in 1905,” explains Tony Castillo, project manager for BNBuilders (BNB), general contractor for the restoration of 275 Brannan. “Throughout the restoration of 275 Brannan, it has been important to respect the integrity of the building and its history by incorporating pieces of the past.”

Founded in 2000, BNB is well-respected throughout the San Francisco Bay Area for its innovative construction services and reputation. The team at BNB designs and builds for maximum efficiency. The company began construction in June 2012 on the two-phase, $16 million project striving for LEED Gold certification.

“We have lots of experience working in urban environments, particularly in San Francisco,” reveals Tony. “This is why BNB opened a new San Francisco office to help support the growing needs for their services. We’re also highly skilled in delivering LEED-certified projects. BNB has completed four projects achieving LEED Platinum certification over the years, which is exceptionally hard to do.”

After three years on BNB’s project management team and a decade in the industry, Tony has seen his share of challenging LEED-certified projects. “I’ve supervised probably 12 jobs achieving LEED Gold or Silver certification over the past 10 years,” he shares. “Between 90 and 95 percent of our projects at BNB follow LEED certification, because it’s a common demand in this forward-thinking area.”

Innovative Design-build

Once 275 Brannan reaches completion in August 2013, the 54,673-square-foot brick and timber building will house GitHub, an up-and-coming California-based tech company. “GitHub had an idea of what they wanted, but they needed us to help them create a complete design,” explains Tony. “It’s been a collaborative design-build effort between BNB, GitHub’s design team and the building owner, Hudson Pacific Properties Inc., from the millwork right down to the custom framing.”

GitHub signed on as the building’s tenant in December 2012 and immediately ordered the build-out and asked to change the core and shell plans, opting out for higher end finishes and other specifications. BNB completed the $7.2 million core and shell phase by January 2013 and is currently in the midst of the $8.8 million tenant build-out. “We’re shooting for completion in August 2013 and for LEED Gold certification on both aspects,” adds Tony.

Going for the Gold

As a cutting-edge tech company, GitHub wanted to incorporate the most efficient green technology on the market, and BNB was chosen to deliver. “We really focused on energy and atmosphere,” shares Tony. “The mechanical, plumbing and electrical was design-build, which enabled us to focus on maximum efficiency.”

BNB also diverted between 90 and 95 percent of demolition and site debris, which would normally be thrown into a landfill, into recycled concrete and steel. “We hired a group that takes old concrete, grinds it up and makes a new product,” says Tony.

From the structural steel bones to the roof deck, 275 Brannan is a work of environmentally conscious material. “We installed a beautiful roof deck with sweeping views of the Bay Bridge and the local ball park,” notes Tony. “The roof deck is made out of a new product called Resysta, which is about 60 percent rice husk, 20 percent salt and 18 percent mineral oil. It’s a noncombustible composite that’s durable and weather-resistant; you can even stain and sand it just like wood, but it’s made out of food.”

Early on in the process, BNB came across another innovative company to assist with the design. “My estimator found Boxman Studios [Boxman] when she ran into them at the annual Green Build Conference,” explains Tony. “We started with a sketch and the idea of incorporating a shipping container into the design and it has turned into something amazing; the product looks like a modern prefab modular home. They’ve been really great to work with.”

The relationship between BNB and Boxman seems to be pleasing all involved. “When BNB approached us about modified shipping containers for GitHub, it became clear that the job would involve a creative, customized solution,” says Jim Curtis, director of the buildings division for Boxman. “As design and logistics finalized, we chose to fabricate the environment out of surplus parts from other container projects to produce optimal results while best conserving natural resources.” BNB received the shipping containers and self-performed the installation on-site.

Preserving Historic Character

While Tony admits modern-day efficiencies were a huge part of the 275 Brannan design, he also emphasizes the importance of showcasing the building’s history. “There was exposed timber on the inside that a previous owner had painted white,” he says. “The team wanted to restore the original wood, so we sandblasted the paint, re-exposing the natural state. Then we installed up and down lighting to really highlight the wood.”

Tony reveals that working on the historic building had some challenges, mainly because the project required approval from the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). “Before we could do any restoration to the exterior of the building the project needed to obtain HPC approval on the design intent,” he details. “HPC’s job is to uphold the historic integrity of the building and things have turned out well, because we have a great deal of experience working on historic sites.” By incorporating the best of the past with the present, BNBuilders has restored 275 Brannan into a prime example of modern-day efficiency and consciousness.

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Spring 2018



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