Winery Design Group  formed to facilitate  design-build collaboration

[caption id="attachment_18424" align="alignright" width="324" caption="Curt Nichols | Mike Kiani | Doug Hilberman | Peter Witter"][/caption]

NORTH BAY -- Three Santa Rosa and Napa firms have formed an architectural, environmental and engineering design team for winery and related hospitality projects.

The Winery Design Group is the brainchild of mechanical engineer Mike Kiani of MK2 Consulting Engineers of Napa, Curt Nichols and water-conservation specialist Bill Wilson of Carlile-Macy Civil Engineers and Landscape Architects of Santa Rosa, and Doug Hilberman and Peter Witter of Axia Architects, also of Santa Rosa.

"In the next three to five months, we will have all three firms in full stride working on projects together," said Mr. Hilberman, principal architect.

The concept of forming a team that could help a winery owner with a ready-built design team came together in mid-2009. The venture was launched in Sacramento in late January at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, attended by about 12,000 wine industry professionals.

Tighter collaboration between design disciplines in construction has been increasing in the past few decades. It has gained momentum with the rise of holistic methodologies such as design-build construction, which brings in teams of designers and contractors early in the project process, and preconstruction services.

It's also helping with standardized green building, which seeks reductions in energy and water use achieved most cost-effectively when incorporated into a project initially. Mssrs. Hilberman, Nichols and Kiani are accredited under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

"It works best if you plan well before you build it," Mr. Kiani said.

Major areas of winery facility design include regulatory compliance, master planning, wastewater management, process equipment design, structure and landscape design and environmentally friendly features. Projects may require all or some of these elements, so not all the firms may work on a project.

Some local design firms have joined forces or brought a number of disciplines under one roof, especially handling the project-entitlement process. For example, The Fifth Resource of Santa Rosa has combined facilities planning and architecture over the years, and Summit Engineering also of Santa Rosa has expanded since 1978 to offer structural, electrical, water and wastewater engineering.

The one-stop approach for design and delivery also helps win projects, particularly when there are fewer projects moving forward into construction because of economic conditions, according to Dennis Fagent, senior principal with Santa Rosa-based ZFA Structural Engineers.

"Customers like bidding where there is a fixed price for a project, and they do not have to worry about cost overruns or fighting between firms," he said. "To make a project happen, you have to create your own job."

ZFA has been teaming with light-gauge framing panel factory Codding Steel Frame Solutions in Rohnert Park on a number of projects since renovations and tenant improvements started on the former Agilent Technologies plant in 2007 to transform it into an ultra-green mixed-use development called Sonoma Mountain Village.

The teamwork started with adapting construction that used lumber and other materials to panelized building and progressed into a simplified, light-weight design for Codding Steel's new disaster housing and a carport for photovoltaic panel arrays.

But the design-build collaboration between ZFA and Codding Steel has been put to work in a series of new stores for Illinois-based housewares retailer Crate & Barrel, with three completed or under way in the Midwest and East.

"Crate & Barrel has a really short window for opening stores, so the team meets regularly over Internet conferencing to look at and talk about the same 3-D model," Mr. Fagent said.

For details on The Winery Design Group, contact Curt Nichols at 707-524-6451 or www.carlilemacy.com, Doug Hilberman at 707-542-4652 or www.axiaarchitects.com, or Mike Kiani at 707-307-1500 or www.mk2eng.com.

To contact ZFA, call 707-526-0992 or visit www.zfa.com. For more on Codding Steel, call 707-665-0800 or visit www.coddingsfs.com.