Cody Anderson Wasney Architects Restores Jewel of Bay Trail

Rising out from the water along the Bay Trail and nature preserve in Palo Alto, CA, the restored and rehabilitated Environmental Volunteers EcoCenter (Sea Scout Building) recently reopened to the public as an educational center and as the headquarters of the Environmental Volunteers.

Originally designed by renowned local architect Birge Clark in the 1930s, the “nautical moderne” Sea Scout building was used as a boathouse and clubhouse for the Sea Scouts – an international scouting organization that emphasized water activities.

But in the 1980s after dredging of the Bay was halted to allow for tidal areas to return to their natural marsh state, the building could no longer be used for launching the Sea Scout’s boats and was abandoned. Over time the structure sank three feet into the mud and suffered from the high water levels and vandals.

Then in 2006, the Environmental Volunteers – an environmental education non-profit organization that teaches environmental science and stewardship to Bay Area grade-school students – in cooperation with the City of Palo Alto – began a renovation of the damaged and neglected building for use as their headquarters.

Led by Cody Anderson Wasney Architects principal Chris Wasney, the restoration and rehabilitation of the Sea Scout building included the replacement of the gang-plank-style ramp up to the main entrance with accessible ramps, the conversion of the original side wings of the boathouse and the expansion of the mezzanine into office use, new accessible restrooms and – at the heart of the building – the renovation of the original Main Hall into an educational multipurpose room for Environmental Volunteer docents, students and visitors of the Bay Trail.

Instrumental to this project was raising the building above tidal levels and installing a new foundation. In order to do this the building was painstakingly removed from the site so that 50-foot concrete piles and a concrete foundation could be installed. Later the building was moved back into its original location and seismically reinforced. All exterior siding was removed, taken off site for lead paint removal and then carefully re-installed.

Paying special attention to the mission of the Environmental Volunteers, the restoration of the former Sea Scout building incorporated sustainable building practices, including the installation of photovoltaics, the refurbishment and reuse of original building materials such as steel sash and wood windows, fir siding and existing wood siding and the installation of new energy efficient building systems. In addition, the restoration of native marsh grasses, pickle weed and new permeable pavement enhances the existing Bay Trail.

Architect: Cody Anderson Wasney
Structural: Rinne Peterson Structural Engineers
Landscape: Cotting & Tanaguchi
Contractor: Cody/Brock Commercial Builders

Size: 2,600 square feet
Cost: $3.8 Million

Cody Anderson Wasney is a full-service architecture firm providing design and historic renovation services for educational, residential and commercial clients. For more information about Cody Anderson Wasney please contact Carol Oscarson at carol or at 415.335.1545. Additional information about Cody Anderson Wasney can be found at

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