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Cohesive Separation

Bifurcated building blends café, gourmet deli and food prep

Deli Loop Apr18 1

Located in Mexico’s resort town of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, the Deli Loop sits between Lazar Cardenas (Federal Highway 1), which runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean to the west, and Las Dumas to the east. Designed by Michael W. Folonis Architects, Santa Monica, Calif., the 8,575-square-foot building is conceived as three separate programmatic elements—café, gourmet delicatessen and food preparation area—all under one roof.

The designers drew inspiration from Mexico’s coat of arms, which is made up of three distinct elements: eagle, snake and nopal, on which the eagle stands. The delicatessen houses a wine bar, bakery, deli service and coffee bar, while the food preparation area is made up of a bakery, kitchen, back of house and storage. The second floor has the owners’ offices, a private dining area for parties and small events, and a restroom.

Programmatic Separation

Michael W. Folonis, FAIA, founding principal and design director of Michael W. Folonis Architects, explains that during the review of the program, the café and delicatessen evolved into separate programmatic components so that the café could function effortlessly without being disturbed by the deli patrons. “Although the activities of the two are similar in some ways, they differ in others,” he explains. “A deli usually has a rapid turnaround rate where customers come in to shop for their desserts or baked goods, then leave; while at the café, most customers will purchase the items and sit for a while, enjoying the space.”

The designers approached the challenge as an opportunity to create a unique solution. Since the differentiation in levels occurs at the back-of-house, where there is the refrigerator, storage, machinery, etc., with the café and delicatessen all on one level, Folonis says the transition created a natural separation of uses.

Site Context

The designers began by looking at the site context in relationship to the adjacent buildings and proximity to the Pacific Ocean. They also considered how to tie the project culturally into a society, and the Mexican flag was used as inspiration. The bifurcated building mass is orientated to Lazar Cardenas, while the south-facing elevation opens to 50 feet of glazing providing the main entry to the building.

Outside, bicycle parking and a waiting area are conveniently located at the entry. The 200-foot by 100-foot irregular sloping site has an 8-foot elevation change from back to front. Elevating the portion of the building that faces the street and partially burying the rear eliminated the need to terrace the first floor and created a continuous level ground floor.

Design Strategies

The designers put an emphasis on passive and active solar design strategies, which renders the building energy neutral. With a mild climate during the winter and hot weather with cool, on-shore breezes during the summer, the designers left the street-facing side of the café and deli open to the ocean, and used operable skylights to naturally ventilate the building. During the day, Folonis notes that virtually no artificial lighting is used to illuminate the space. “We have incorporated passive solar design strategies for over 35 years,” he says. “We have kept this tradition as an integral part of our practice and strive to maintain it.”

Additionally, the white metal siding and metal roof reduces solar heat gain. “Wrapping the building with the corrugated metal gives it a consistent, predictable texture and meets environmental concerns,” Folonis says. “The metal siding was also easy to install and requires virtually zero maintenance.”

The local general contractor, EME+Q Edificios Prefabricados, San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora, Mexico, installed the metal roof and wall panels in less than three weeks, which resulted in a substantially shortened construction schedule compared to other systems.

The project utilizes 4,600 square feet of Houston-based MBCI’s 24-gauge 7.2 Panel with a Polar White Flurothane coastal coating from Minneapolis-based Valspar Corp. MBCI’s 7.2 panel with 3/4-inch round holes on 1-inch staggered centers for a 51 percent open area protects the outdoor dining area.

Platinum Goals

The architects designed the project to meet LEED Platinum certification requirements, specifying recycled, renewable and high-performance materials and products throughout. The project features water-saving, dual-flush toilets, tankless water heaters, reclaimed water for toilets, utensils and non-potable water uses, energy-efficient appliances, double-pane windows and insulation made from recycled materials.

To minimize outsourcing and importing, the project uses indigenous building techniques and materials. “We should always be using indigenous building techniques and local labor to make the construction process more intelligent,” Folonis explains. “Importing materials from outside of the region becomes more costly for operation, construction costs and scheduling. Using techniques familiar to local tradespeople helps to make the process seamless and ensures a higher quality project.”