Do you think these Walnut Creek buildings, attractions are worthy of design awards?

Last week, the city’s Action for Beauty Council honored about a dozen new buildings and attractions for its 2008 awards at a luncheon at the Clubhouse at Boundary Oak.

The council, consisting of a group of citizens independent of the city’s political structure, has been issuing design review awards for 40 years. The awards honor projects in architecture, landscaping, and public art. The awards tend to focus on businesses, and how their designs enhance the quality of life in Walnut Creek, but as this list shows, the awards also honor residential projects and even an exhibition.

The list includes projects that have enjoyed their share of scrutiny and even, dare we say, controversy. Here is the list, along with any additional info I can provide.
What do you think. Agree, disagree. Why? Why not?

555 YVR (above): This is the new, $40 million 87-unit “boutique” development at 555 Ygnacio Valley Road. The project consists of flats, townhomes, live/work spaces, and a rooftop “sky lounge” that offers views of Mount Diablo and downtown Walnut Creek.

Walnut Creek (Ace) Hardware: The long-awaited downtown Walnut Creek hardware store opened last fall and occupies about 12,500 square feet of retail space, stocked with supplies for home building, plumbing, electrical, cleaning, and DIY projects. A nursery in the rear opened this spring.

Arbutus Drive Homes: Three are new homes, and one under construction, in the Parkmead neighborhood. The four homes replaced a former “farmhouse” that had been demolished to make room for the new, more contemporary developments.

Cheesecake Factory (above): Walnut Creek was graced (that’s one way to put it) with the February opening of this popular chain eatery, whose owners love to decorate each of their restaurants with lush interiors that typically include Egyptian columns, dark cherry wood furniture, and brass accents.

Mercer “Luxury Rental” Homes: The 181-unit block-sized complex on North California Boulevard was all condo until the condo market took a nosedive with the rest of the economy. Now, units are available for rent.

North Creek Church: Expansion of the Ygnacio Valley Road Evangelical Free Church featured the addition of a new worship center, adult classrooms, church and school offices and bookstore.

Paulson Lane (above): 16 “cottage” and “craftsman” style homes went up off Olympic Boulevard next to Interstate-680.

St. Matthew Lutheran Church: The church’s expansion plans sparked controversy among neighbors around Wiget Lane, who were concerned about increased parking and traffic congestion.

“Then and Now” Exhibit: On display in the City Council chamber at City Hall, the exhibition consists of 25 such historic photos of Walnut Creek, dating back to 1927, that are juxtaposed with 2008 photos showing the same locations.

Villa Vasconcellos (above): 70-unit complex for low-income seniors, on Geary Road, features green building features and opened in late 2008.

Other winners of 2008 Action for Beauty Council awards:

Harmony Lane Creek Restoration
Hutchison Stained Glass Dome
John Muir Parking Garage
Parkmead neighborhood
Ruth Bancroft Garden Wall
Traditions Property

18 thoughts on “Do you think these Walnut Creek buildings, attractions are worthy of design awards?

  1. Oh, the architecture of that ACE hardware store is truly majestic. Bravo to everyone involved. Truly a work of art.


  2. I am in awe. What respect for great taste. Truly this list should be appended to a more commonly known list – The Seven Wonders list.


  3. Seems like every darned new big building in WC is recognized for something, but a hardware store? It must have something to do with tax revenue…

    If the people hadn't snubbed up the wide-open growth several years ago the downtown area would now look like Las Vegas.


  4. I love the new wall at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. It deserved recognition, partcularly the way it fits in with its surroundings, working around some of the existing plants. However, most of the list should be added to The Wall of Shame that is Olympia Place.


  5. The ACE Hardware store's exterior looks virtually the same as when it used to be The Good Guys electronics store. They really did not do anything to improve the look of the store. The inside of the store looks dark with concrete floors and a warehouse style look.


  6. It seems any revenue- generating project approved by the city during the year gets an award. Some were indeed controversial. Be assured the library will win as soon as it opens.


  7. Methinks that 4:11 PM is correct.

    No contest for sure….so that means that we don't need to have anything else built in the next two years…….RIGHT? Oh well, we can all have dreams.


  8. Congratulations Soccer Mom,

    You have a demonstrated ability to congeal Walnut Creek community negativity into a single location in cyberspace. When this process reaches critical density, a black hole will form and negativity will be sucked into other dimensions.

    I commend your civic service!


  9. Herr 9:48,

    OMG the Cyber Gestapo are with us again!

    Are we, in this great free nation in which we live, not allowed to have opinions that may differ from the self-appointed and annointed supreme leaders in this community? And are we not supposed to have the right to raise our voices in protest when something occurs with which we disagree?

    Guess not, according to you.

    The only way that anything improves in life is by taking negatives and turning them into positives. However, nothing improves if not everyone has a seat at the table and is allowed to express their opinions. Can't think of a better place to blow off steam than on blogs such as this. At least here an open dialogue is tolerated.

    Keep up the good work Mom. You are providing a wonderful civic service and you present to us thoughtul and provocative writings and allow us to contribute our thoughts.


  10. Several of these honored projects met opposition by residents but ultimately were approved by the city – the North Creek Church, Muir parking garage, Mercer, etc. The Parkmead Neighborhood won a new “neighborhood pride” award despite some in the neighborhood fighting fellow award winners in or near Parkmead – the Arbutus Homes (in the heart of their neighborhood in the city) as “McMansions” and the Paulson Lane homes (in the county) as infringing on the creek and nearby homes. The Action for Beauty Council, which has been around for years and is often dominated by former city commissioners and politicos with ties to developers, at least brings all this to our attention and highlights some projects we might never hear about.


  11. For those of us that aren't completely sure the 'supreme leaders' of the community are out doing every project possible to personally enrich themselves….

    I find the Hutchison Stained Glass Dome to be an awesome place. I was there for a WCEF fundraiser and it was a wonderful experience in town. I'm not sure if it's a big sales tax generator that most people think this list contains. Go check it out.

    I suspect the ACE hardware is being recognized for the subdued nature of the store from the street. I guess if the 'supreme leaders' were really after the almighty buck they would have allowed billboards big enough to be seen from 680 & 24.

    In addition to the dome, the Kovar trail is listed. Please don't go there so I can continue to enjoy it myself :).


  12. Anon 7:03

    What was the opposition to the Mercer? Did we lose the crummy brick building on the corner and the dumpy unmaintained rental houses and the seismically unsafe muti-unit buildings. Or were people opposed to something useful being developed.

    FYI, I'm not for or against all development.


  13. Only two awards really were earned because of beauty and innovation:
    The Ruth Bancroft Garden wall and the Hutchison Glass Dome.

    Phooey to the rest.


  14. The 555YVR “photo” is beyond photoshopped, duh, it's a rendering. Tons of photos on their facebook page 555YVR, tho. I know because I went to one of their parties and they took our pic. We're the cute three cute girls in the courtyard. 🙂


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