Published July 17, 2012
Volume 20, Number 6

Five Dahlin Group Projects Win Gold Nugget Grand Awards 

Dahlin Group principal Lauri Moffet-Fehlberg with a Golden Nugget award. 

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

Dahlin Group Architecture Planning stood out at PCBC, the building industry’s leading conference and trade show, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco  a few weeks ago with the receipt of five Gold Nugget Grand Awards. Open to builders, developers, architects, and land planners with projects across the globe, the PCBC contest bestows “the oldest and most prestigious design awards in the nation.”

Dahlin Group took top honors in five categories: Renovated or Restored Single House, Senior Housing Community - On the Boards, Multi-Family Housing Project – under 15 dwelling units per acre (For Sale or Rent), Specialty Space - indoors or out, and International Detached Residential Project.  From the affordable, age-qualified housing community near transit in Orinda to the luxurious home in Beijing that “combines a pastoral setting with city living,” the five projects are very representative of Dahlin Group’s current work, notes principal Lauri Moffet-Fehlberg,
Strongly committed to green design and sustainability, the 35-year-old firm has built its architecture and planning practice to include 200-plus professionals in offices throughout California and the People’s Republic of China. It is active in virtually every type of real estate development in the U.S. and abroad. 

Throughout the Dahlin residential portfolio, the underlying preferences of home buyers seem to run along a parallel track. “People don’t want the same old bland thing,” Moffet-Fehlberg observes. “They want to be proud of where they live, have pride of ownership, feel that their home is a sanctuary and special. Being memorable is very important. We strive very hard to create communities that give people those feelings.”

Still, design is regionally driven, and individual home features can be very different from one geographic locale  to another. “You have to be in tune with the context and the buyer demographic,” she notes. The proliferation of multi-generational families in the core Bay Area makes a ground-floor bedroom/bath combination an imperative. As densities for single-family homes increase, fitting in that bedroom and all the other programmatic elements becomes a challenge, but the result is always “a livable, memorable place.”

Most of the firm’s residential work in China is for a new affluent class of Chinese nationals. As they move up the prosperity ladder, their desires become remarkably similar to those of their American counterparts: a high-quality community with a unique personality and character—including a clubhouse and other amenities.

In many respects, Dahlin Group’s professionals transplant what they do in the U.S. to their Chinese projects, but cultural differences are responsible for many unique design features. For example, in northern China there are very strict rules about how much direct sunlight must be available for the main rooms of a house. “The living room, dining room, kitchen, and master bedroom all have to face south, sometimes regardless of the views they offer,” Moffet-Fehlberg relates. “That really changes up the floor plan, but after 10-plus years of working there, we’ve got that pretty well dialed in.”

The cross-pollination continues as the firm brings its experience back to California, incorporating many “nuances and idiosyncrasies” to suit the state’s many Chinese home buyers.

Moffet-Fehlberg reports good news on the housing front. “We’ve seen an uptick in work, and our clients are more optimistic than in previous years. We’re looking forward to designing more great projects,” she remarks.  For more information, visit www.DahlinGroup.com.


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