Text description provided by the architects. For decades, the residents of Yountville, California, a rural town in Napa County, relied on a small 1920s-era community hall and a hodgepodge of spaces rented from others to host community events. The hall was in need of renovation, ill-equipped to support art classes, and lacking in outdoor recreation spaces. In addition, the town had outgrown its library. In 1998, after surveying residents’ needs, the municipality embarked on a planning process for an expanded town center at the heart of town.
The Yountville Town Center weaves new and existing buildings and outdoor rooms into a place designed to enrich community life. Located on a 2.5-acre site on Yountville’s main street, the town center consists of a new 10,000-square-foot community center, the renovated 4,800-square-foot community hall, and the addition of a sheriff’s substation to the adjacent post office. The new community center houses a branch library, multipurpose room, teen center, and meeting and program spaces. It opens onto a new town square framed by the existing community hall and the post office.
Building exteriors blend with the rural character, while inside the spaces are light and airy. The large multipurpose room, 80 feet long by 50 feet wide, is day-lit along the roof’s spine by a ridge skylight, which has splayed walls that soften the light as it enters the room. A unique combination of Douglas fir trusses and cables enables the roof’s structural support system to have a minimal presence in the room and avoids blocking daylight from above. A large, covered porch of red cedar on two sides of the town square connects the community hall and community center, providing shade in the summer. Barn doors extend the multipurpose room onto the adjacent barbecue patio.
Targeted to achieve a LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council and to achieve energy savings of 44% over Title 24, the design integrates a range of green features. Walkways and bike paths connect the center to surrounding neighborhoods and main street activities. Exterior sunshades, a highly insulated building envelope, and “cool” standing seam metal roofs reduce energy use.
Energy-efficient mechanical systems are integrated with ground-source heat pumps for heating and cooling. A building integrated management system takes advantage of the temperate climate by opening skylights and windows on days with mild temperatures. Operable skylights, controlled by CO2 and rain sensors, and operable windows provide natural ventilation and balanced natural illumination.
Roof-mounted photovoltaic laminates on the new and existing buildings supply energy. Water-conserving plumbing fixtures, harvested rainwater, drip irrigation, subsurface irrigation, and drought-tolerant native plants further reduce water use. The existing parking lot was regraded to slope naturally so that rainwater could be harvested in a bioswale. Overall, site design reduces storm runoff by 40% over preconstruction conditions.
Building materials were selected to minimize life-cycle impacts and provide light and airy interiors free of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds. Buildings feature durable, recycled content cement-fiber shingles and metal roofs. The new building’s red cedar cladding and Alaskan yellow cedar sunscreens and entrances are regionally harvested. Slatted wood ceilings are locally sourced white pine. The existing community hall’s oak floor was reused. Over 75% of the wood is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.