Portola Valley Town Center

Civil & Community | Portola Valley, California

San Andreas Fault: Rebuild in Portola Valley

When geologists discovered that the historic Portola Valley Town Center and School were built directly atop the San Andreas Fault, they undertook extensive research of the local tectonics and integrity of the structures in the vicinity. The findings were that none of the buildings would likely withstand an earthquake. Due to the risk to the people utilizing the Portola Valley facilities, the school and associated buildings were immediately closed.

In the interim, ad hoc trailers were put in place and planning committees consisting primarily of local residents went to work on a new plan. Over the ensuing months, 4 plans were put together, with plan “D” eventually gaining approval.

The top priorities of the project, aligning with the activists who founded the town in 1964, were to preserve and connect with the landscape, maintain open space, and promote green building.

Most of the $16M budget for the projects was raised privately from residents. The new Town Center occupies 11 acres, with the buildings placed strategically to minimize potential damage from an earthquake.

The new facility includes the addition of a baseball field, tennis courts, and the restoration of a creek which previously had been diverted. Local residents were highly involved in all phases of the project, and the buildings are encircle a large lawn area which hosts community events.

When the old building were disassembled, every attempt was made to reuse the materials, and much of the wood was remilled and used in the new buildings.

Channel Lumber's, sustainability and green building initiatives were primary objecives in the design and construction of the Town Center. The construction earned a LEED platinum certification.

For more information on Channel Lumber products and services, please contact us.

Photo Credit: Alfred Hess

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