The new Crissy Field Center has earned the top spot in the Green Building category of a California competition recognizing construction and design excellence, but that’s not surprising to the building’s general contractor, Fisher Development. The center, with its numerous eco-friendly features, was a truly groundbreaking project, says Alex Fisher, the company’s vice president of business development. The building takes the most desirable elements of green building and puts them into an affordable and quickly deployed application. “It’s on the ground floor of a new phenomenon that I believe will sweep the design and construction industry,” he says. Here, he explains why.


Location San Francisco
Size 7,500 ft2
Completed 2010
Program High-performance classrooms, lab space, an art room, administrative space, and a restaurant
Awards California Construction’s Best of 2010: Green Building Award (Northern California); National Park Service: 2011 “Building the Future” Environmental Acheivement Award


Situated in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Crissy Field Center serves as an educational facility, offering a variety of programs that connect diverse Bay Area populations to urban environmental issues. Working in partnership with community-based organizations, it primarily reaches out to youth who traditionally have had little opportunity to experience the wonder of their national parklands. Its facility consists of classrooms, labs, administrative offices, and gathering spaces, including Beach Hut Café. The entire building is open to the public.


In 2009, the Doyle Drive replacement project—which replaced the south access road to the Golden Gate Bridge, known as Doyle Drive or US Route 101, with a more earthquake-safe roadway—made it necessary for the Crissy Field Center to relocate from the corner of Mason and Halleck Streets to temporary structures along the eastern edge of Crissy Field.


General Contractor Fisher Development
Architect MK Thin


A white cool-membrane roof reflects heat away from the building to reduce energy requirements, and extended roof overhangs reduce glare while allowing indirect light to reduce the requirements for artificial lighting. Low-E windows reflect heat in the summer and insulate the building year round; high levels of roof (R-30) and wall insulation (R-19) reduce energy use. Fisher Development used a solar-powered generator to further minimize environmental impact. Inside, an energy-efficient lighting system includes daylight sensors and occupancy controls. “Predictive modeling allowed Project Frog to optimize the building orientation and design to reduce energy needs,” Fisher says. “The result is a reduction in energy demand of as much as 50 percent without sacrifice to comfort.”

Crissy Field Center


Crissy Field Center was designed by Project Frog, short for Flexible Response to Ongoing Growth. Launched in 2006, the group offers an innovative solution to the lack of temporary classrooms by designing and manufacturing prefabricated green buildings. The buildings are composed of a pre-engineered and premanufactured kit of hundreds of parts, which allows for an extraordinarily quick build time. “Project Frog allowed Crissy Field Center to get up and running in nine months, a fraction of the normal time, at an affordable price,” Fisher says.


Certification LEED Platinum
Panels Prefabricated, made from salvaged redwood
Materials Sum of materials contains 35% recycled content
Flooring Carpet by InterfaceFlor is 65% recycled content, old carpet is recycled
Energy White cool roof and low-E windows reduce energy needs by 50%
Water Rainwater diverted to a 2,500-gallon cistern for non-potable use


Exterior panels are manufactured from old-growth redwood, much of which was salvaged from the historic Cal Park Hill Railway Tunnel in Marin, California, providing a beautiful finish while protecting existing forests. Siding was manufactured by EcoClad, which is made from recycled paper and bamboo fibers that are then dipped in resin, heated, and pressed together to form a hard surface.


Cabinets are made from maple that is certified by the FSC and wheat board, which is wheat straw that has been cut, dried, pressed, and bound to form sheets. Much of the material was removed from Crissy Field Center’s old building and reused. Individual carpet tiles from InterfaceFlor are made with 68 percent recycled content and can be replaced as needed by the manufacturer, which recycles old carpet tiles to make new ones. Low- to no-VOC interior paint and adhesives also protect the health of occupants.


During the build process, there weren’t very many opportunities for landfill diversion. Project Frog’s pre-engineering substantially reduced the need for raw exterior materials and made the construction site virtually waste free. “Total building materials contain more than 35 percent recycled content,” Fisher says.


A rainwater-capture system funnels rainwater from the roof into a 2,500-gallon cistern, where it is filtered and supplied to the toilets, covering more than half of the facility’s annual toilet-flushing needs. Much of the wastewater released by the facility is safe for the environment: liquid hand soap, for example, is biodegradable, made with vegetable and fruit extracts and naturally occurring minerals.

Crissy Field Center