Noll & Tam Architects

Noll & Tam Architects

Berkeley, CA


Albany Public Works Service Center

Situated on a narrow, nearly three-quarter-acre property between Highway 80, a set of train tracks, and San Francisco Bay, the two-story Albany Public Works Service Center houses a wide variety of public works functions. For Noll & Tam Architects and C. Overaa Construction—the competition-winning design-build team—the principle challenge was how to establish an appropriate civic stature while satisfying a complex mix of industrial functions within tight site and budget constraints. The solution was to create as simple a building as possible, and to let inexpensive graphics provide the pop.

The project includes a 17,280-square-foot building, as well as site facilities for vehicle washing, vehicle parking, and associated corporate yard activities. The first floor of the facility is devoted to the department’s fleet program, warehouse functions, and storage, while the second floor holds department offices. 

A pre-engineered steel building was selected for its cost saving and ability to meet the fast-tracked schedule for completion. The design team leveraged the rigor and simplicity of the kit-of-parts components, while strategically customizing the design and optimizing it for enhanced daylighting and to meet local and state energy codes. Windows were situated to maximize lighting, and extra insulation was added to reduce the building’s energy needs. Solar panels on the roof of the vehicle washing and storage shed provide supplemental site power.

The minimalist exterior—white-painted, flat corrugated metal siding—fits with the aesthetic of adjacent industrial public facilities, while pops of color, including gray and blue accents, as well as bold super graphics on the perforated steel gate, make the building stand out and reconnect to its civic function.

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Status: Built
Location: Albany, CA, US
Firm Role: Architecture and interior design
Additional Credits: Noll & Tam project team
Janet Tam, Principal
Mati Teiblum, Project Manager (design)
Andrew Russell, Project Manager (construction administration)
Elizabeth McLeod, Project Architect (design)

Project team
Noll & Tam Architects (architecture and interior design)
Kister, Savio & Rei, Inc. (civil engineering)
IDA Structural Engineers, Inc. (structural engineering for foundations)
CER (mechanical engineering)
DA Bender (plumbing)
McGrath Electric (electrical engineering)
Walsh, Norris & Associates, Inc. (acoustical engineering)
Gem Buildings (building manufacturer)
Burks Toma Architects (corporate yard design)
C. Overaa & Co. (contractor)