Jillian Northrup's blog

The BWC Library

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The most dramatic renovation we did in our office recently was our new library and meeting room.
Changed from having an exposed concrete floor with shelves of books, we made this space into a cosy meeting room,
and an opportunity to show off some of our handy work.


The doors that slide away on a barn door system are made of 1/2" frosted acrylic with Europly bases and steel strapping.
The sanded acrylic allows the natural light to diffuse in during the day, and the bulb light out at night.


Our wooden robot mascot, here made in sycamore and walnut, acts as a handle on the outer most door.


We installed durable but fun Flor carpeting and a center table for meetings.


The table surface is a thick slab of Pine, finished with our water soluble clear coat, and with dramatic live edge details.


We kept the live edge of this slab and coated it in a soft resin. Keeping the original beauty of the material while creating functionality.


The bookshelf against the back wall houses our design, fabrication and art reference library.


Recessed lighting in the bookshelf illuminates the inside of the shelves within the walnut hardwood trim details.
The bright light draws the eyes to the back of the room and allows the books to be very visible.


On the ceiling we hung full color, programable LEDs that shine upward and bounce off the white of the ceiling.


Nested in the bookshelf we've created a control panel for all the lights, hooked to the Arduino, the bookshelf & ceiling lights and the power.


Here's a video of our new Library & ceiling lights in action!

Internal Renovations

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We've given the office a few renovations for the new year. Here are some quick snapshots of the new pieces we've made.
Our office drawing storage table is a wonderful addition to our ever growing pile of architectural drawings that we need to keep on hand in the office.
And rolls around smoothly on it's awesome big red wheels!


To accomodate our ever growing staff, we've had to add a longer table in the kitchen.
This bamboo table cantilevers off the wall to give plenty of room for stretching our out.


The news sliding barn doors to the meeting room & library allow the natural light to come in through their 1/2" thick frosted acrylic panels. Yummy.


Inside the meeting room & library is all books and table. We have a lot of reading to do!
And now we can easily see our reference library with the integrated lighting in the shelving.


Hooray for upgrades!

Forgotten Fridays Wooden Slat Chair Design

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Sometimes, as it happens, we are hired to create designs that, for one reason or another, never come to life.
These designs tend to get filed away, sometimes brought out again, but mostly just logged and stored in their client folder.

Here we can showcase and celebrate the most interesting ones that may someday again breath life!

This chair, for example, would be made of a solid walnut. A bent / formed piece of walnut acts as an arm rest on the side.

M:\BWC Bucket\Shared Revit Library\Textures\wood\walnut\Chairs_Project V2.pdf

The base swivels so the chairs can face each other or not, and an iPad mount sits on the side for browsing information.

M:\BWC Bucket\Shared Revit Library\Textures\wood\walnut\Chairs_Project V2.pdf

A fun, sleek chair that can act as a meeting chair or personal iPad console.

M:\BWC Bucket\Shared Revit Library\Textures\wood\walnut\Chairs_Project V2.pdf


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.... We are opening our doors for Because We Can's 2015 Big New Year open house.

.... We'll be starting at 6PM and going until 8PM.

Come hang out and see our newly renovated digs. We've been working hard to clean the place up, and streamline our production flow for our upcoming projects. Speaking of upcoming projects - boy have we got some cool stuff in the works!
So come by and watch us strut our stuff!
We'll have some snacks, some drinks, and lots of interesting things to chat about.
It's a great time to drop by and talk shop with us, if you want to learn more about what we do and how we do it.

Kids welcome, but it is a shop and a party. Lots of sharp corners. And they might learn some interesting new words!

6PM - 8PM

2500 Kirkham St
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 922-8846
Click here for the Google Map.
.... All are invited, so come on by! We'd love to see you.


Talking with Robots about Architecture- Jeffrey McGrew at The Interval

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Tickets have just gone on sale to see our own Jeffrey McGrew talking at the Interval later this month.
He will be talking about the future and present of building, and show some references to The Interval itself .

The Interval at Long Now
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM (PST)

Get Tickets!


"What's happening now and what will be tomorrow in the technology of building buildings? Change comes both slowly and quickly in the building industry. New technology leads to new ways of working, but also sometimes makes older ways of working viable again. The flow of innovation in design and construction is not easy to predict, but it's fascinating to track. Our next talk will tour some of the most recent developments and give perspective on how we got here and what's coming next."

Oakland Home Renovation, Part2

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As this Oakland Hills home project moves swiftly forward, we have made great progress.
All of the exterior walls are up and waterproofed, the new energy efficient windows installed, and the new roof complete.


The interior steel beams are in place in the ceiling, allowing this large open family room, dining room & kitchen to be one large grand open space.

The skylight with exposed timber framing will let beautiful natural light into the large open room. The light will trickle down the stairway that it spans above. Giving natural light to the open stairway and soon to be installed slide! (that will be exciting!)

The wall of large open windows give a striking view of the Oakland Hills and the Bay beyond.

The new downstairs room will be a casual den & play room for the kids.

And finally, the back yard terracing is coming along well with stairs and landings for fruit trees and garden space.

Tree Wall for ClifBar

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We just finished another internal project for ClifBar in Emeryville, CA.
This 'Tree Wall' is a way they award and congratulate outstanding people within their company, adding a leaf to the tree for each person.


A simple construction, drawn with vector lines on the computer, and then cut on the CNC.


We blocked the tree off the wall so it could get around conduit lines and uneven beams.


We needed to design the trees to go around the existing larger tree & already wall mounted bird houses.


The wall has a fun, crafty look, and is now ready for more leaves to be presented during their honoring ceremony.


See the other internal promotional walls we've done for ClifBar here & here!

The Interval at The Longnow - Best New Bar in America

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We are so proud to see The Longnow's Interval get voted one of The 21 Best New Bars in America by Thrillist!

It has been wonderful to see how much amazing press this place is getting. Congratulations to everyone who has helped make that happen! It has become a venue worth it's hype.

You can check out more about the design, construction and Architectural scope of this project here, on our projects page.