Wanderful Media cultivates Chico’s tech side

Wanderful Media cultivates Chico’s tech side

Wanderful Media events bring Silicon Valley to the Sacramento Valley
Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix, speaks to a group that gathered at Wanderful Media March 27 in Chico.      Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix, speaks to a group that gathered at Wanderful Media March 27 in Chico.     Chris Tolles, CEO of Topix, speaks with Alex Hendricks (right), a product manager at Wanderful Media March 27 in Chico.


CHICO >> A Bay Area company with an operation in Chico has quietly been scheduling activities that boost the local tech sector.

So far Ben T. Smith IV and Wanderful Media have sponsored three Silicon Valley tech speakers, who have come to Chico for free gatherings open to the public. The last one was Chris Tolles, CEO of the popular Topix community commenting, drawing about 200 people to Wanderful’s downtown quarters.

Smith also wants to help entrepreneurs who travel down the path he did, and president of Chico State Vniversity’s Collegiate Entrepreneurial Association Katharina Chiu is an example. She’s using a desk and surrounding minds to help her business, Meeting Punkt.


Obviously, Wanderful benefits from mentoring local tech students who are attracted by the speakers and vibrant sessions, but it also helps define Chico to the outside world and serves as a recruitment tool.

Smith also feels that encouraging the Chico tech industry benefits the community, as well as his company and other companies looking for tech talent. Silicon Valley tech experts who enjoy the Chico experience might mention the community in a future conversation or decision.

“We’ve kept people in Chico because they want to be here,” said Smith of the Wanderful staff of about 45 who were moved from a building at the Chico Muncipal Airport to a stunning remodeled downtown building that operates 24/7. Growth is expected in Chico, and room for up to 60 was built into the office design.

Smith zeroed in on downtown because of its growing vibrancy as well as budding tech sector and being close to Chico State. The company is one of Chico’s unsung treasures.

The tech-talk audience, many of whom are Chico State students and faculty or employed in the local tech industry, pay nothing for the evenings as they lap up refreshment and ideas.


Smith told the Enterprise-Record that bringing Silicon Valley speakers to town is good. Students and others are attracted to the speaker or the event itself, Smith said, and a relationship can develop that might channel to a job, an internship or just networking. Wanderful is a regular at Chico State job fairs and recruitment events.

“Whether they work for me or not, it’s good for Chico. We’re learning from each other, and encourage these kinds of jobs. Sometimes they work for us, sometimes not,” Smith said during a recent telephone interview from his Bay Area office.

Smith said he treats the speakers to “the Chico experience,” often flying them into town, seeing the community and treating them to dinner.


“I’m often calling in a favor,” he said of the people he invites, but generally his speakers are glad to have the experience and look forward to being brain-picked about new turns of technology.

Smith sees that the every-other-monthly program as an investment in the community that might or might not pay off for him, but is still worth the effort. And he hopes to boost the program to monthly.

“It’s a nice town, in a nice environment,” Smith said, adding that it’s “far away” from the Bay Area, but “not too far away.”

But he also is blunt. “If we couldn’t have developed the building, we wouldn’t have stayed in Chico,” giving building owner David Halimi of Diamond W Western Wear credit for his assistance.

Remodeling what was originally the old Chico Theater and later retail and office space at 325 Broadway took a huge budget. Halimi and Chico architect David Griffith spent months working to turn the old building into an ultra-modern, 24/7 office to accommodate a youthful, high-tech company.

“It was like restoring a classic car from the ground up,” Halimi recalls, but adding new twists like desks that adjust from sitting to standing, bike parking in the basement, showers, and a generator system that whispers. Striking are steel and glass touches like the glass server tower, not to mention powerful air conditioners required for the computer systems.

Founded in Chico as Travidia for digital media advertising for media, the company was purchased in 2011 by a consortium of media companies and renamed Wanderful Media. Wanderful owns and operates Find n Save, a collection of local sales available on the website and on newspaper online sites. It also has iPad and iPhone apps.

Contact reporter Laura Urseny at 896-7756.

MONCA Renovation Transformation Campaign

MONCA opens Vets Hall for launch of Renovation Transformation Campaign

Viewing marks launch of Renovation Transformation Campaign

By Ashley Gebb

agebb@chicoer.com @ashleygebb on Twitter

POSTED:   04/09/2014 05:04:46 PM PDT
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 A crowd gathered inside 900 The Esplanade on Wednesday, wandering with smiles as they admired sea-foam pocket doors, wall medallions of ships and warriors, and faux fireplaces fitted with electrical sockets.

The architectural nuances of the Chico Veterans Memorial Hall were remarkable not just for their historic nature but that for some in attendance, they had been behind locked doors since 2005 when conditions in the restrooms, electrical, heating and cooling systems had deteriorated so greatly that the building was no longer habitable.

On Wednesday, its new tenant, the Museum of Northern California Art, celebrated the launch of its renovation transformation campaign and named JoAnn Morgan the chair. As bright spring light streamed through tall wood-framed windows, people toured the building in awe of its wall sconces, crown moulding hiding above a suspended commercial ceiling, and blue-columned triple-archways in the entry hall.

“Isn’t it awesome,” said Trudy Duisenberg, secretary of the museum known as monca. “I’ve got goose bumps again. Happens every time.”

Seeing beyond scrapes and dents, Reed Applegate, admired the ornate wood floors and black-and-tan terrazzo flooring. As the benefactor of monca’s 400-piece artwork collection recalled voting in the hall and watching events on its grand raised stage, he said he cannot imagine a better new use for the aging county-owned building than to turn it into an art museum.

“I think this could be really something when we get it all fixed up,” he said. “Such possibilities. I’ve been waiting for this for 40 years.”

With the county taking responsibility for the exterior and the windows, monca will assume responsibility for the interior and bringing the building up to the necessary code conditions for occupancy. Plans are to remedy its problems while leaving the historical integrity of the 87-year-old all intact.

“We first had to understand the building before we start telling anyone what to do,” Chico architect David Griffith, who is leading the restoration.

He explained how the building is somewhat of an architectural marvel, built entirely of concrete, including the exterior mouldings and cornices. Building plans from 1926 show indications of electricity, with plans for every room to have at least one lightbulb.

The entry hall and performance area were designed for function, with stone baseboard trim and the marble-like flooring, while the meeting rooms show finer attention to detail, such as textured glass in the doors and decorative inlays in the wood flooring.

“Our job is to take this grand old building and keep its architecture intact while making it usable for current and future generations,” Griffith said.

Officials from monca estimate it will cost $500,000 to complete the first phase of the rehabilitation, which is just the front 4,000 square-feet of the 18,000-square-foot hall. On Wednesday, Carlos Castle of the American Legion Post 17 handed Morgan a check for $1,000 and challenged every other veterans group and local businesses to do the same.

“We wanted to be first in the door to ensure the funds would start immediately,” he said, noting how grateful veterans are to be included in the museum space.

Wednesday’s open house took place barely a year after the county approved a 20-year lease for monca. Museum board chair Pat Macias said she thought the opening of the hall was a great way to kick off the fund-raising campaign.

“This is a very supporting art community,” she said. “We want this to be a place everyone can come to, everyone wants to come to and everyone feels welcome.”

The goal is for the fund-raising and rehabilitation to take place in a short time frame, with hopes of opening in fall 2016.

How to donate


• Send checks payable to Museum of Northern California Art to 900 The Esplanade, Chico, CA, 95926

• Credit card donations accepted at www.monca.org/donate

Contact reporter Ashley Gebb at 896-7768.


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The strategy for the restaurant was to open up the entire length of the restaurant to the original high ceilings, allowing light and greenery from the courtyard beyond to illuminate the dining and seafood bar area. Facilities ( dish-line, trash and restrooms ) were inserted out of sight off to the side, coexisting with the adjacent sub-tenant, which will remain in operation.

The kitchen, — major focus of the B St Oyster Co concept– was located prominently at the very front of the space, allowing views of the chefs at work to the interested passers-by. Design details include a mix of the historical forms of the building combined with contemporary fixtures and wooden screens.


Arroyo Grande Mission Style update


This project is the development and design of a sensible home that incorporates the basic simplicity of the Mission Style with today’s construction system & technologies. Our thesis throughout the design process has been to do more with less. California’s original and traditional architecture emphasizes the return to simple, authentic and harmonious design.

The proposed Project is the Construction of a Single Family Home at 302 Grace Lane in Arroyo Grande. The project sits on a 1.16 acre hillside parcel and is intended preserve the pastoral character of the surrounding established neighborhood by not over developing the site.

By placing the footprint of the main house on the steepest part of the hill, we hope to maximize the lot’s flatter areas as outdoor space for the family.







WANDERFUL MEDIA through the lens of Shannon Iris


A local Photographer Shannon Iris sent these photos of Griffith Architects’ Wanderful Media Headquarters Design in Downtown Chico.  We really enjoyed the photos of the nearly completed office and wanted to share them.



 Offices for internet e-commerce company, Wanderful Media. Includes Server Tower structure, four levels open office & flexible space with , lounge, break area, mechanical & electrical, network coordination, generator , accessible restrooms, site development. MATERIALS include reworked wood flooring, natural concrete, metal grating/ wood casework , concrete counters/ freestanding steel structures / glazing & metal storefront.


Butte County Public Health Laboratory

1668.1 PUBLIC HEALTH LABORATORY project page


Recently the Butte County Health Department unveiled their newly renovated Public Health Lab by Griffith Architects.  Here are some of our photo’s and the Chico’s Enterprise Record article for the event.


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Butte County Public Health shows off remodeled laboratory


POSTED:   09/12/2013 12:00:00 AM PDT

CHICO — Butte County Public Health went from having a laboratory that was built in the 1950s to a recently remodeled facility that’s prepared for the future in health.

“We had a lab that was out of age and we were barely getting by,” said Dr. Mark Lundberg, Butte County Health Officer. “It’s really an investment in the future and an investment to public health.”

Public health laboratories conduct tests to protect the community from disease and other health threats. There are approximately 300 in the United States, including 36 in California.

“I think that we’re more prepared to safely handle the most severe or concerning pathogens,” Lundberg said. “Some of the suites in here are designed to protect the environment and protect our staff. Some of these rooms you see in here we never had before, so we can more safely handle specimens than before.”Before the remodeling project, the laboratory on Oleander Avenue was less than half the size and inadequate for the experimentation that needed to be done.

The total project cost was roughly $1.2 million, said Thomas Cowles, general services project manager. The cost includes planning, design, budget management, construction and extra work around the building that was needed, such as new bathrooms and updated air conditioning.

Renovations finished in mid-May and the laboratory has been in full use since, said Greg Costo, laboratory director.

One of the biggest problems faced with the old lab was contamination between agents because there wasn’t enough room to separate them, Costo said. Now there’s enough room to isolate different tasks.

Safety was one of the main principles Costo gave David Griffith, architect and professional engineer for Griffith Architects. With that focus on safety, the lab features many clear windows and minimal blind spots.

“It’s a safer place to work, as well,” Costo said.

Reach Katrina Cameron at 896-7759, kcameron@chicoer.com, or on Twitter at @KatCameron91.




Summer internship in a Construction Zone

Over the summer I worked as an Architectural intern with Griffith Architects in their Chico California Office.

summer intern lsd

I had decided that a summer internship would be the perfect way to gain industry experience, valuable connections and further my skill set. Griffith Architects provided me with everything I could have hoped for.From day one I was welcomed as if I was apart of the team and over the summer I assisted on numerous projects while supervising over two projects, which were already in the construction phase.

Because of the small size of the team at Griffith Architects the experience and knowledge I gained covered everything from starting a project to the processes to getting it finalized. I learnt tricks of the trade when it comes to rendering and modeling 3D object, how to arrange books and boards to submit to the city and even installing concrete sinks onsite.

David Griffith and Jon Couch create an awesome team and always had time to answer any questions I had. I really appreciate the time and help they have given me; the amount I have learnt over my time in Chico is enormous, but most importantly everything I learn benefits everything I will do in the future, whether it be academically or professionally. 

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The Modern Office: Wanderful Media in Downtown Chico California


Wanderful Media in Chico California, Architecture for the new way to work


Griffith Architects have been working with David Halimi and Wanderful Media ( formerly travidia ) to convert an 80 year old theater building in downtown Chico into a modern open plan office.   The Goal of the project has been to meticulously peel back the layers of additions and Tenant improvements that have hidden the buildings true and original form and structure.  


Taking the building down to its original structural core and inserting a free standing two story mezzanine and server tower,  joins two different ages of construction techniques together.  

The way we thought best to achieve the combination of the original building and the new additions was to minimize the new construction to a honest bare material palette, highlighting modern construction materials and techniques.

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Built in the early 1900’s the building had experienced an accumulation of misguided renovations, but still showed basic good form and an intriguing asset in the unused backyard for the restaurant. 


project map link

Extra keywords: Restaurant renovation project. Restaurant in Chico.

Interior of B Street Restaurant, Chico

Interior of B Street Restaurant, Chico


The strategy for the restaurant was to open up the entire length of the restaurant to the original high ceilings, allowing light and greenery from the courtyard beyond to illuminate the dining and seafood bar area. Facilities ( dish-line, trash and restrooms ) were inserted out of sight off to the side, coexisting with the adjacent sub-tenant, which will remain in operation.

[Read more…]

2012 Progressive Architecture Awards: Parish Life Center


Griffith Architects 2012 Progressive Architecture Awards Submission: Parish Life Center, Chico, Ca

























Griffith Architect’s FIRE STATION FIVE

The yearly visit to Griffith Architect’s FIRE STATION FIVE with the Chico Country Day preschool

My five year old son had been talking about this day for months.  The Chico Country day Preschool saves its best trip for last, the Fire station Five field trip.


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Odds & Ends

The Griffith House Odds & Ends