SAN FRANCISCO office
Location: SAN FRANCISCO
Client: MEDIA COMPANY
Year Completed: 2016
old building, new life
A 1920’s can manufacturing facility became the blank canvas for an emerging media company’s innovative workplace.
The building had already been stripped down to its essential elements, revealing an appealing bone structure that, with strategic interventions, could readily support the design flexibility the evolving organization desired. In addition, the company’s leadership envisioned a space more akin to an artist’s studio than a high-tech office, informing our design considerations at every scale, from the detailing of the steel mezzanine and associated wood book ledges, to the design of the individual steel and wood desks.
We approached the task of adding new design elements to the space mindfully and purposefully, choosing each addition as carefully as a poet might place a word. This strategically additive approach to both architecture and systems integration is foundational to all of our work, but in this case it also seemed to be tacitly endorsed by the building itself.
Leveraging the opportunity to utilize remaining F.A.R., we threaded a mezzanine within the existing seismic braced frames, maintaining a central high-bay space. This insertion provides the dual benefits of adding extra square-feet of workspace above while locating flexible space below for meeting rooms, open seating, bathrooms and support spaces. The compromised headroom around the existing braced frames became opportunities for radiant and power/data manifold alcoves.
In keeping with the principles of Universal Design—that all occupants regardless of gender or physical ability have a dignified experience of the space—a multi-functional ramp gives access to the mezzanine. The ramp also supports flexibility for moving furniture, traversing by bike and scooter, and serves as a wrap-around overlook to flexible gathering space. Cultural wellbeing is supported by gender-inclusive single-occupancy restrooms and showers.
Flexible Meeting Rooms
Anticipating the client’s evolving needs for a range of meeting room sizes and open plan spaces, a modular wall system was designed that could be readily reconfigured over a weekend to accommodate multiple layouts. In order to achieve the required high level of flexibility, while minimizing future disruption and cost, the systems were designed to anticipate a range of potential wall locations without needing to alter ceiling structural bracing, HVAC, Electrical, fire safety (sprinklers and alarms), lighting, or acoustical panels.
Radiant and Data/Power Integration
By integrating complex systems into elegant and often invisible solutions, the result is an innovative workspace that appears simple and inevitable. The radiant floor adds thermal comfort to the high bay space. To achieve necessary flexibility, it is dovetailed with an innovative linear trench system of 2’x2’ access floor panels. This system allows power and data cable access throughout the workplace. Desks and seating areas can be rearranged on a whim.
High Bay Space Integration
Building systems are threaded through the existing network of trusses to deliver performance and flexibility. Complimenting the radiant floor, ducted ventilation provides fresh air. Duct-drops are integrated into the manifold alcoves below to support future room configurations without costly modifications. The sprinkler system, disruptive to modify, anticipates potential enclosed spaces. The sound masking system is user-tunable to acoustic needs of current and future functions. Reclaimed redwood book ledges offer functional surfaces while blocking noise from below.
Industrial Design - Desks
The adjustable-height, wheeled desks can be arranged in rows or clusters as teams of collaborators form and reshuffle. Desk modules and layouts inform power and data outlets within the linear raised modular floor, giving the freedom to (re)arrange the space at any time with minimal effort. The main idea is a desk as an artist’s studio. Made with a wood surface (rock maple butcher block: warm, tactile, personal) and raw steel frame with exposed welds, the desk serves both the individual and collective.
The furnishings are designed to be comfortable together in multiple arrangements over time. The elements are crafted from natural materials—modular sofas upholstered in an inviting soft grey wool, reclaimed wood and raw steel with linseed oil finish—and there is a distinct lack of flashy branding anywhere in the space. This is in keeping with the client’s wishes for flexibility and evolution, the goal of focusing their resources where they would have the most impact on health and wellbeing, and to “design out” trendy aesthetic additives wherever possible.
By analyzing the weak points of the building’s leaky thermal envelope, we set working areas back from the glassy perimeter (prone to heat loss) and anticipated 24-7 work cycles with a radiant floor that maintains occupant comfort during nighttime temperature drops without the energy and comfort compromises of a more conventional forced-air solution for the 20-foot tall volume.
Daylighting and Acoustics
Adding performance to the high bay space, acoustic sound-absorption panels—painted with mineral paint to reflect light—were mounted between existing ceiling trusses. The airy feeling of the space and areas of the redwood ceiling remain intact, while reverberant noise and daylighting are optimized to workspace criteria. Twelve new translucent skylights (replacing existing) mitigate glare and minimize the need for electric light during the day.
Project: San Francisco Workplace
Location: San Francisco, California
Owner Name: Media Company
Integrated Design Project Lead / Interiors / Furniture: Parabola
Architect of Record: Devcon Architecture
Design Builder: Devcon Construction
Lighting Design: MSLD, LLC.
MEP Design: Integral Group
Acoustical Design: Charles M Salter Assoc. Inc.
Furniture Design Consultant: One Workplace
Structural Engineer: Ficcadenti Waggoner and Castle
Code Consultant: The Fire Consultants
Design-Build and Design-Assist Subcontractors:
Mechanical Engineer: ACCO
Electrical Engineer: Sprig Electric
Plunging Engineer: Castro Plumbing
Fire Protection: Golden Bear Fire Protection
Space Needs / Project Management: Alex Neuhold Consulting
Photography and Video:
© FLS / Parabola / Prakash Patel Photograph
© FLS / Parabola / Kevin Burke Photograph