San Francisco is home to some of the world’s most recognizable, profitable, and fastest-growing companies. And behind every successful company is a workspace. This is where these architects come in. Included on this list are architects who have built some of the most inspired offices and campuses in the Bay Area. Given the impressive portfolio of companies that call San Francisco home, it is no surprise that some of these offices are almost too amazing to believe. Specifics vary based on the company, but throughout this list you will find spaces with the most modern technology, fantastic hang-out areas, in-house cafes, restaurants, and bars, and some truly creative solutions to encourage collaboration. Read on to learn about the architects who designed campuses for Facebook, Yelp, Linkedin, and Yahoo!, the headquarters of Airbnb, Dropbox, Skype, and Twitter, and offices for Uber, Yelp, Pandora, and Microsoft.
10) Garcia Tamjidi
Website | (415) 788-5800 | Featured Principals: Michael Garcia & Farid Tamjidi
For 20 years, Michael Garcia and Farid Tamjidi have been trusted by some of San Francisco’s top companies to design efficient and innovative offices. Their portfolio includes downtown office space for Kendo and luxury offices for a venture capital firm. Garcia Tamjidi is also featured on our Best Commercial Architects list.
Photo Courtesy of Garcia Tamjidi
Michael Garcia and Farid Tamjidi founded their architecture firm in 1997. In addition to their work on offices, they also design houses, studios, landscapes, and smaller commercial spaces. They are known for their minimalistic design aesthetic, but are not bound by disciplinary boundaries.
“We see potential in problems, needs, desires. We see ourselves as translators of experiential feeling into solidly built form. Our projects are at once deep and intimate collaborations and expansive and powerful experiments. We thrive on concept, and also on simplicity. We believe that architecture is a dance of decision and opportunity.” – Garcia Tamjidi
Garcia and Tamjidi focus on how to incorporate over 100 years of architectural theory with the newest ideas from the field. The practice uses state of the art technology to create truly innovative designs. Garcia and Tamjidi both studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where they met.
Photo Courtesy of Garcia Tamjidi
A significant office project by Garcia Tamjidi is the new downtown office for beauty brand incubator Kendo. Located on a full upper floor of a high-rise building in Downtown San Francisco, Kendo’s new space sports a minimalistic black and white design scheme with glossy surfaces that reflect views of San Francisco’s skyscrapers. There are two distinct areas to the office: long sinuous lines of desking, shelving and storage space, and meeting rooms with large beauty graphics that cover entire walls and brightly colored modern furniture.
The firm completed a major expansion for a venture capital firm’s office that includes a vaulted hallway and focuses on capturing natural light. Other commercial works by Garcia Tamjidi include Mountain View offices for analytics firm Elastic and a temporary office space for the Parker Foundation in Presidio.
9) Boor Bridges Architecture
Website | (415) 241-7160 | Featured Principals: Bonnie Bridges & Seth Boor
Boor Bridges Architecture, founded in 2003, has grown to be one of the top architecture and design firms in the Bay Area. The award-winning firm works on a diverse range of projects including restaurants, community spaces, and residences. The firm has particularly excelled in designing high-tech workspaces, making them a perfect fit for the Bay Area. High profile clients include Dropbox, Lumosity, and Thumbtack.
Photos Courtesy of Boor Bridges
Boor Bridges takes a collaborative approach that involves clients, multi-disciplinary staff, and craftsmen. A hallmark of their projects is seamless indoor-outdoor transitions. Boor Bridges strives to be environmentally intelligent and cognizant. They aim to bring a sustainable perspective and proficiency in energy-efficient building systems to every project.
Bridges has been an adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts, Architecture and at the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. She has sat on the Board of Directors of the AIA California Council and AIA San Francisco. She previously ran Bridges Architecture and worked for award-winning firms in California and Arizona. She earned a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from the University of Arizona, Master of Architecture with Honors from the University of Texas at Austin, and Doctor of Design in Architectural Theory from Harvard University GSD.
Boor is actively involved with the AIA San Francisco. Prior to founding this firm with Bridges, he worked for a Texas architectural firm on a variety of project types, including hospitality, museum, church, and institutional buildings. He earned his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin.
Photos Courtesy of Boor Bridges
Boor Bridges Architecture designed Lumosity’s headquarters in a Timothy Pflueger building in San Francisco. The historic building has a gorgeous art deco exterior, so the firm specified divided light windows to reference the building’s patterning. They created a strong sense of connection and community across the three floors and creatively provided opportunities for employees to cross-pollinate. Flexibility for future growth was necessary, so Boor Bridges devised a rearrangeable puzzle of open desk spaces. Amenities include a lunchroom, bar, lounge/game room, and library with a secret, rotating bookshelf door.
The practice also collaborated with Geremia Design on Dropbox’s 70,000 square foot China Basin headquarters in 2012. The young company had a projected growth that could more than quadruple staff. Therefore, the workspace was designed to be flexible and introduced innovative approaches to urban workplace density. The simple, but vibrant, design was highly functional and allowed for easy customization. And Boor Bridges created an open and bright environment with a nearly 1,600 foot continuous circulation loop, open workstations, and centralized social spaces.
And Boor Bridges recently designed a 23,000 square foot headquarters for Thumbtack in an old industrial building in SoMa. Boor Bridges was involved in this project early, helping with site evaluation and selection. Rather than create a rigid office environment, they fed off the company’s culture and took a ‘residential-ized’ design approach. The first floor is a large gathering space with a lunchroom, bar, and full commercial kitchen. Each of the office floors above have open space planning, informal meeting rooms with sliding glass doors, small ‘code caves’ for side-by-side work, and ‘living rooms’ with colorful and customized furnishings. And there are numerous snack areas with residential-style kitchens. This project was featured in the May/June 2017 edition of Urban Land Institute Magazine.
8) FENNIE+MEHL Architects
Website | (415) 278-9596 | Featured Principals: Ned Fennie & Doug Mehl
Founded by Ned Fennie and Doug Mehl, FENNIE+MEHL Architects has spent 20 years in San Francisco specializing in innovative and collaborative workplace environments for today’s revolutionary, tech-based business culture. In the last 15 years, they have successfully delivered more than 10 million square feet of branded space. Their lively and unique offices can be found across the Bay Area for many recognizable companies.
Photos Courtesy of Fennie+Mehl
FENNIE+MEHL Architects does not pidgeon-home their designs by focusing on one dominant style, but rather creates spaces that allow a company’s culture to flourish. The firm has assembled a diverse and multi-disciplinary staff with graduates from leading architectural, interior design and engineering schools, and they have 20 patents and LEED certifications among them.
“[W]e experience your company first-hand, immersing ourselves in your values, your systems, your personality, your vision, your work habits, your idiosyncrasies, even your inside jokes. We put on your culture and wear it for a while. And then we bend the space to serve you. That’s how we develop powerful, unique spaces that fit like a custom suit and make those who dwell within deeply satisfied.” FENNIE+MEHL Architects
Founders Doug Mehl and Ned Fennie met at the University of Arizona, where they both earned a Bachelor of Architecture. After working at various other firms and feeling that something was missing in the design process, they decided to start their own firm together to do things differently.
Photos Courtesy of Fennie+Mehl
F+M designed Github’s 55,000 square foot headquarters. Github is known for being wildly quirky and for its rapid growth: it went from employees writing code in dive bars, coffee shops and home offices to being a $900 million company in just six years. F+M translated this unconventional culture into its new building: the space includes two bars, multiple cafes, a library, park, speakeasy, museum, and coder cave. The funky space is covered in natural materials and tones and has a raw and inviting atmosphere. This project was certified LEED Gold, received an IIDA Honor Award, and an ENR 2014 Best Project Award.
And for the global software development company ThoughtWorks, F+M designed an unpretentious and inclusive 11,000 square foot office in San Francisco. A third of the office is reserved for communal gathering space for partnering with and fostering local social justice organizations. And F+M built infrastructure in the public areas to display a rotating collection of local artwork. This project earned two Interior Design Association Awards – the Give Award and People’s Choice Award.
F+M also designed a 10,500 square foot space for Jackson Square Aviation after it was purchased by a Japanese holding company. Their design honored both the Japanese and American business traditions and has subtle tributes to aviation throughout. The transparent and airy space is made with frameless glass walls, doors, and shelving. One conference calls room has a floating ceiling and the largest conference room is shaped like a gull wing. This office won an IIDA Honor Award and a Build Culture Preservation Award.
Lastly, F+M designed both the Los Altos and San Francisco offices for the rapidly growing company Box, maker of cloud-based storage for Fortune 1000 companies. The fun and energetic environment has proven wildly popular and been featured in many publications.
7) Rapt Studio
Website | (415) 788-4400 | Featured Principal: David Galullo
Rapt Studios is a global, award-winning design practice based in San Francisco. Their work has been featured in many regional and national publications and they are the recipient of numerous architecture and design awards. The studio has worked with many of the globe’s top brands, including VF Corporation, IBM, Google, Turner Broadcasting, Dropbox, and Fender.
Photos Courtesy of Rapt
Rapt Studio is based on the belief that great design can transform the way we live and work. In addition to their San Francisco office, they have offices in Los Angeles and New York. The practice specializes in design for both the built environment and the digital world, and they aim to create spaces that solve real business needs. Their multi-disciplinary staff includes interior designers, architects, graphic, user experience/interface and industrial designers.
David Galullo, CEO and Chief Creative Officer, previously spent nearly 12 years as CEO and Design Principal at POLLACK architecture, five years as a Design Principal at Gordon Chong + Partners (now Stantec), and a designer at Brady McHugh Vaitkus. He earned his Bachelor of Architecture at Syracuse University.
Photos Courtesy of Rapt
Trulia’s new office space, designed by Rapt Studio, reflects their particular culture. The office for the online real estate platform was built around the concept of a tree to drive the spatial treatments and material transitions throughout the space. Floor to ceiling windows flood the open plan office with natural light and a comfortable environment is made with fixtures and furnishings that recall a living room.
Rapt Studio also designed the San Francisco offices for Ancestry, which earned a Merit Award in the “Work Large” category from the International Interior Design Association of Northern California. Rapt Studio’s design highlights the link between family and global genealogy. The lobby features an eye-catching multi-dimensional graphic installation with different colors to represent different ancestries of various populations and which suggests a shared global heritage. Each floor has break areas, family rooms, and a variety of dens and kitchen tables.
And Rapt designed Dropbox’s award-winning headquarters in 2016. The 300,000 square foot space is based on a city layout. Distinctive neighborhoods for 40-50 people are flanked by portals and meeting rooms and are arranged throughout the headquarters. Each neighborhood invites its employees to create their own company subculture based on their collective personality. Other areas include a library inspired by a fuzzy, 1970s Italian theater and a dark, purposeful ‘Deep Focus room’ flanked by Dr. Strangelove-inspired war rooms for handling crises. There is also a casual Karaoke Bar inspired by Dropbox’s startup days. This project won the top honor from the 2017 International Interior Design Association of Northern California – the Best of Show Award and was named by Inc. as one of the World’s Coolest Offices in 2014.
The firm also revamped Linkedin’s headquarters with a series of installations, and designed the new Google offices in Irvine, a 65,000 square foot office space for Lyft in San Francisco, Google’s San Francisco campus, which won the Interior Design Best of Year Award in the Large Tech Office category, Eventbrite’s new downtown headquarters, and HBO’s Seattle offices.
6) RMW architecture & interiors
Website | (415) 781-9800 | Featured Principals: Glenn Bauer & Russ Nichols
RMW has delivered award-winning workplaces for clients in many fields, including high-tech, science, healthcare, industrial, academic, and civic. They design each project according to the client’s unique culture, workflow, and business objectives. RMW seeks to find solutions that reflect the organization’s image, solves functional challenges, enhance workers’ well-being, and builds community. The firm has been recognized as one of the Top 50 Sustainable Design firms by Architect magazine, one of the Top 100 Sustainable Design firms in the nation by Engineering News-Record, and is the recipient of two Acterra Business Environmental Awards.
Photos Courtesy of RMW
RMW was established in San Francisco in 1970 as R&M “to create inspired human environments through the power of responsible design.” It was founded by C. David Robinson, Matthew R. Mills, and David Watson Williams, who met as graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania. They also have offices in San Jose and Sacramento. The 70-person firm is made up of experts in architecture, interior design, programming, and planning. The firm is committed to sustainable design and is a signatory of the Architecture 2030 Challenge and a member of the U.S. Green Building Council.
Glenn Bauer, a Principal at RMW, has been with the firm since 1971, the firm’s second year. He has been recognized as a Fellow by the AIA. Bauer studied at UC Berkeley and Harvard Graduate School of Design. Russ Nichols is a graduate of Washington State University. Nichols joined RMW in 1985 as an interior job captain and is now president of the firm.
Photos Courtesy of RMW
RMW helped LinkedIn consolidate their headquarters by designing buildings 950 and 1000 on their walkable campus for 1,200 employees in Sunnyvale. On the first floor of each light-filled building are common spaces, including a 500-seat cafe with 7 distinct food stations, an auditorium, a 3,000 square foot fitness facility, a juice bar, and a center for meeting and training. RMW’s design was inspired by the campus’s context and location adjacent to Encinal Park and each floor has a signature color and nature-inspired theme.
And RMW is responsible for Yahoo!’s 806,000 square foot Sunnyvale campus and corporate headquarters. The self-contained campus is amenity rich and was ahead of its time. It contains several cafes, a cafeteria, fitness center, game rooms, training rooms, and an outdoor green space with volleyball, bocce ball, and basketball courts. This campus set a benchmark for today’s high-tech campus design trends and was the recipient of an AIA Santa Clara Chapter Design Honor Award.
RMW also designed Jive Software’s Palo Alto offices. As one of Silicon Valley’s fastest-growing companies, Jive Software needed an adaptable and open environment. The resulting 18,500 square foot space with bright brand colors and crisp linear designs creates an energetic and socially transparent environment, which speaks to Jive’s culture of information sharing. Key design elements include an illuminated glass wall covered in notes and doodles and a floor-to-ceiling wall of light. Finally, RMW designed Cisco Systems, Inc.’s Building 11 in San Jose to improve capacity and spatial efficiency.
5) Lundberg Design
Website | (415) 695-0110 | Featured Principal: Ollie Lundberg
Lundberg Design has been the chosen architect for some of San Francisco’s most recognizable companies and is responsible for what Business Insider named as one of the coolest office spaces around the world. Lundberg Design has a range of expertise, including residential, wineries, distilleries, commercial properties, apartment buildings, and hotels, and was ranked 6th on our list of the Best Restaurant Architects in San Francisco.
Photos Courtesy of Lundberg
Lundberg Design was founded by Ollie Lundberg and works out of a former 1933 mattress factory in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood. The large space houses their architectural practice and fabrication shop. They describe their style as “nature-inspired modernism” which is presented in a simple but elegant form. They commonly work with wood, stone, and steel, and are known for their one-of-a-kind handmade pieces from their fabrication studio.
“For us the making of architecture is a collaborative act; between ourselves and especially with our clients – while we aim for poetry we also pride ourselves on making buildings that work very, very well.” – Lundberg Design
Their approach always takes sustainability into consideration. They hope to make a net positive impact on the environment and create buildings that are physically and culturally durable. They employ the latest building practices and technologies and are known for their use of reclaimed materials. Lundberg earned his Bachelor’s in English Literature and Sculpture from Washington and Lee University, and a Masters in Architecture from the University of Virginia.
Photos Courtesy of Lundberg
Lundberg Design created the Twitter offices in a former wholesale furniture store in the Tenderloin district. Lundberg Design, with Interior Architects, designed a space that reflects Twitter’s creative culture. In line with Lundberg’s signature of taking something old and making it new, this space has two wooden cabins from the 1800’s dismantled and shipped from Montana. The project included an adjoining rooftop garden and social space, a cafeteria in an old auditorium, and custom furniture and fixtures fabricated by Lundberg Design. Appropriately, Business Insider named this project as one of the 17 coolest office spaces around the world.
The firm also worked on Autodesk’s workshop/office space, which was named by Biz Journal as one of the Bay Area’s coolest offices. Autodesk, a world leader in 3D design software, needed a functional and creative space. Their workshop, located on the waterfront on the south side of Pier 9, includes a wood shop, metal shop, and laboratory. Lundberg Design’s signature design elements can be seen throughout – steel, reclaimed wood, plywood, and cement board have an industrial feel, but are updated for a sense of sophistication and modern. A catwalk bridge cuts through the double-height areas so employees can observe other’s work without disruption. Lundberg also designed Autodesk’s applied research lab and their 5,000 square foot robotics lab.
Other significant projects include Virgin America’s modern headquarters in Burlingame, Benchmark Capital’s headquarters on the top two floors of the historic Warfield Building at 6th and Market streets, and the unique and raw headquarters for Agency 125, a young advertising firm.
4) Design Blitz
Website | (415) 525-9179 | Featured Principals: Melissa & Seth Hanley
Design Blitz was founded by Melissa and Seth Hanley and has had the opportunity to work on office space for a wide variety of San Francisco companies, from small up and coming financial companies to larger established tech-companies. They are responsible for what Biz Journal named as one of the Bay Area’s coolest offices. Their work has been featured in many national and international publications.
Photo Courtesy of Design Blitz
Blitz is a full-service architecture and interior design firm, specializing in commercial, retail, and hospitality design, urban planning, and furniture services. Each project is informed by location and client needs. Blitz is known for pushing boundaries and trying new approaches in design and architecture. Their innovative designs are meant to be relevant to the future and look beyond their client’s immediate needs.
Melissa Hanley earned her Bachelors in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley, with a minor in City and Regional Planning. She regularly contributes to technical and lifestyle publications such as Interior Design Magazine, Contract, Vanity Fair, GQ, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Seth Hanley earned his Bachelors in Architecture from Leeds Metropolitan University and his post graduate degrees in Architecture and Urban Design from Oxford Brooks University. His work has been featured in more than 100 publications, including Interior Design Magazine, Vanity Fair, and GQ Japan.
Photo Courtesy of Design Blitz
Blitz is responsible for Zendesk’s headquarters in the city’s Mid-Market neighborhood, which was named by Biz Journal as one of the Bay Area’s coolest offices. The communal office has open face booths and long tables for both independent and collaborative work. The design is airy and uncomplicated, with a “clean, Scandinavian aesthetic.” It incorporates the brand’s iconic green color, including in a living wall made of moss that visually connects the office’s two floors. Grand seated stairs leading from the basement to the rest of the building invite employees to sit, relax, and gather together. Blitz also designed office space for Zendesk in Dublin, London, Madison, and Melbourne.
Design Blitz designed office space for Brick and Mortar Ventures, a young venture capital firm, in SoMA. The design firm turned the 900 square foot space into a seamlessly designed ‘translucent eden’. Given the small space, creativity was vital. Vertical storage was incorporated throughout the offices, and wood plus an abundance of glass was used to visually enlarge the space.
And Blitz designed Skype’s North American Headquarters in Palo Alto. This tenant improvement of 54,000 square feet of existing office space supports 250 employees with high-tech work spaces. Located in a long-vacant building, Blitz stripped away old interior improvements to reveal beautiful structural components and 16-foot tall ceilings. A standout area is the Boardroom – a Pod covered in salvaged oak flavor sticks from wine barrels. The innovative and highly functional design achieved LEED Silver certification.
Other impressive office spaces by Design Blitz include Microsoft’s San Francisco office in the historic Bank of America building, the 30,000 square foot space for Optimizely, which mixes historic architectural features with a modern interior, Zillow, and SoundCloud’s New York offices.
3) Studio O+A
Website | (415) 908-1880 | Featured Principals: Primo Orpilla & Verda Alexander
The award-winning Studio O+A earned their reputation through workplace design. They are perhaps best known for designing Facebook’s first headquarters and Microsoft and Yelp’s offices.They have designed many more offices throughout the Bay Area for both well established and upcoming companies and have created some of the most groundbreaking offices for the world’s largest technology companies.
Photo Courtesy of Studio O+A
Studio O+A is a design studio based in San Francisco and New York City that focuses on commercial interiors as well as branding and consulting. Founded in 1991 by husband and wife duo Primo Orpilla and Verda Alexander, their work has been noted with setting the agenda and pushing workplace design forward. They got their start in Silicon Valley and their first clients were in the technology field. The firm places an emphasis on “democratic design” and uses the process to translate a client’s individual narrative into design terms.
“Our central idea is that every client has a story and that a work environment is a great vehicle for telling it.” – Studio O+A
Studio O+A received the International Interior Design Association’s 2010 Northern California Honor Award for the Facebook Headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. and Orpilla and Alexander were named Designers of the Year in 2011 by Contract Magazine. Their work has been featured in many national publications, including Interior Design. Prior to founding Studio O+A, Orpilla worked as a senior designer at Design Mark. He earned a BS in Interior Design at San Jose State University. Alexander studied fine art at San Jose State University. She went on to study for a Master’s in landscape architecture, first at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and then at the University of California, Berkeley.
Photo Courtesy of Studio O+A
Studio O+A was hired by Uber for multiple projects, including a ‘temporary’ office space at 555 Market Street for its rapidly expanding workforce as its new headquarters would be under construction for a couple of years. The 200,000 square foot space uses inexpensive materials in elevated ways and tells the story of the company through furniture and graphics on bare concrete walls and floors. Each floor of the space represents a different city where the firm has a presence.
The firm also designed Yelp’s campus/headquarters in a 26-story high-rise in San Francisco’s Financial District. Studio O+A challenged the tradition of a spread out, horizontally oriented campus by designing 106,000 square feet across multiple floors. They located the reception area, designed to look like an old general store, in the center of their vertical campus, and their cohesive design includes custom spaces, informal working areas, and meeting rooms on each floor. It has a professional-grade coffee bar that feels like your local cafe. The interior spaces are clad in planks of Douglas fir, red oak, and walnut, with a red brick interior and custom light fixtures.
And Studio O+A helped Evernote expand their office from one to two floors. They worked very closely with the company to design on a budget and for their specific needs. To reduce their client’s nervousness about being split between two floors, they created a tiered seating area as opposed to an isolated stairwell. And rather than having a reception area, a barista stand with an artful seating area and wall of succulent plants was created.
Other notable clients include Levi Strauss & Co., Williams-Sonoma, Paypal, and AOL. Studio O+A also received acclaim for their design of Nike’s corporate headquarters in Oregon, the budget office space for the startup Quid, the new headquarters for the online media company Livefyre, the custom office spaces for Giant Pixel, and Lookout.
2) STUDIOS Architecture
Website | (415) 398-7575 | Featured Principals: Thomas Yee
STUDIOS is an international design practice founded in San Francisco in 1985 by Darryl Roberson and Erik Sueberkrop, both AIA Fellows. STUDIOS got its start designing ground-breaking office space and campuses for Silicon Valley clients such as Apple, Silicon Graphics, and 3Com. STUDIOS was voted by its peers as one of the 10 best design firms in the U.S. in Contract Magazine and is listed as one of the Top 75 Architecture firms worldwide by World Architecture and the Top 40 Interiors firms in the U.S. by Interior Design magazine.
Photos Courtesy of STUDIOS
STUDIOS also has offices in New York, Paris, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Mumbai. The San Francisco office works on a variety of project types, including corporate interiors, education and civic projects, and major urban developments. The firm is run by 20 principals with diverse backgrounds and has over 300 staff members across its offices. They pride themselves on their collaborative design approach and strive to stay on top of the latest developments in technical knowledge and expertise.
Thomas Yee joined STUDIOS in its founding year and became Principal in 1989. He now serves as Chairman of the Board. He was Managing Principal of the San Francisco office from 1994 – 2006 and President of the firm from 1999 – 2009. Yee has excelled in revitalizing traditional architectural forms and gains inspiration from alternative shapes and materials, and light and structure. His portfolio includes headquarters and regional offices for leading law firms and he had completed many corporate, civic, and university projects.
Photos Courtesy of STUDIOS
STUDIOS has worked with Linkedin on multiple projects. Previously, they renovated an existing one-story Sunnyvale warehouse into a net-zero, flexible, highly energy efficient workplace. Open working areas and a central park-like community area with skylights, various meeting rooms, and a library/lounge occupy the space. A calm, natural atmosphere was created with large graphics depicting nature scenes and the use of natural materials on walls, ceiling treatments, and desks. And STUDIOS is designing Linkedin’s new campus. Shoreline Commons in Mountain View will have 1.8 million square feet of office, retail, recreation, entertainment, dining, and green open spaces organized around a pedestrian-oriented “living” street.
And STUDIOS worked pro bono for Kiva, a nonprofit that works with microfinance institutions to help alleviate global poverty. The meaningful, functional, and lively workplace was developed using innovative and low-cost design solutions. Racked sliding panels – made from reclaimed wooden doors – allow for varying levels of connection between a welcoming lounge and the open work areas. The office also has phone “booths” for privacy, a kitchen with a grand ‘family’ dining table, a quiet room with oversize hammocks for relaxation, and chalkboard, magnetic, and whiteboard walls that invite employees to interact.
Photos Courtesy of STUDIOS
Previously, STUDIOS set a benchmark for corporate campus design with the award-winning North Charleston Campus in Mountain View, known since 2003 as “Googleplex.” It was designed for SGI’s corporate headquarters, as well as for research and development. Facilities include office space, dining facilities, a fitness center, a theater, and a parking structure.
Other significant projects in the Bay Area include the offices of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, which were named by Fortune as one of the 18 Coolest Offices of the 100 Best Companies, master planning 200,000 square feet for Intuit and redesigning all of Pandora’s Oakland office. Pandora’s redesigned space was featured in Interior Design, the San Francisco Chronicle, and on sfgate.com. Elsewhere, STUDIOS designed the Time Inc. Headquarters, Sony Corporation’s, Major League Soccer Headquarters in NYC, United Nations Foundation in Washington DC, and Reuters in Paris.
Website | (415) 433-3700 | Featured Principal: Art Gensler
The world’s largest architecture and design firm – Gensler – was founded right here in San Francisco. In addition to designing some of the world’s tallest buildings, Gensler has been hired by some of the most influential and successful companies to create their office space. In the Bay Area alone, this includes designing Facebook’s Menlo Park campus, creative space for Pixar, and a workspace for WIRED.
Photo Courtesy of Gensler
Gensler was founded in 1965 near San Francisco’s Jackson Square by Art Gensler, Drue Gensler, and their associate, James Follett. It now has 46 offices in 16 countries and employs more than 4,000 employees in 27 practice areas. And although Art Gensler stepped down as chairman in 2010, his fingerprints and dedication to high-quality service and design are all over the practice. The firm’s expertise includes corporate offices, retail centers, airports, civic and educational buildings, urban design, entertainment complexes and even product design. In 2000, Gensler was recognized with the AIA Architecture Firm Award, the highest award bestowed on an architecture firm by the AIA.
Art Gensler got his start in the field working for Wurster Bernardi & Emmons after earning his Architecture Degree from Cornell. His boss, famed San Francisco architect William Wurster, is the one who convinced him to begin his own firm. Art Gensler was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Design Futures Council in 2016.
Photo Courtesy of Gensler
Perhaps Gensler’s largest and most well-known ‘office’ project Is the nearly 1 million square foot Menlo Park Facebook Campus. Their design mirrors the company’s philosophy: open, mobile, socially connected, culturally relevant, and self-sustaining. Facebook’s upstart and creative DNA is reflected in the stylish, retro environment with plywood ceilings, concrete floors, and shop lighting. Many areas invite customization, such as hallways of chalkboard walls and blank canvases. Creating raw, flexible, “Beta spaces” was vital, as Facebook continues to expand and evolve. The nine buildings are connected with wide bridges to encourage interaction and communication between employees. Gensler created an urban environment with a complimentary cafeteria, vending machines with computer gadgets, a break room with vintage arcade games, and coffee shops that encourage employees to mingle. This campus has been featured in countless national and international publications. Gensler previously designed Facebook’s downtown Palo Alto office in 2008.
Photos Courtesy of Gensler
Gensler designed Airbnb’s 25,000 square foot headquarters in San Francisco. The practice successfully incorporated Airbnb’s history and culture into the design. Each meeting room was modeled after a listing featured on their site. It even incorporates a replica of the original apartment where Airbnb was founded. This unique approach means that the headquarters has design influences from Berlin, Hong Kong, New York City, and Aptos, California. The colorful headquarters also includes a large, stunning atrium.
And Gensler collaborated with Razorfish and BCCI on the relocation of Razorfish’s offices. The office space for this dynamic, online advertising agency was designed to maximize creativity and collaboration and necessitated flexible work spaces with movable projection screens. The design also supported Razorfish’s environmental vision and incorporated reused materials such as framed wood barn doors and reclaimed wine barrels. The outcome is a unique blend of both functionality and unexpected twists.
Additionally, Gensler designed the 19,000 square-foot “creative factory” for Pixar, which was named by Business Insider as one of the 17 coolest office spaces around the world, a new South-of-Market workspace for WIRED magazine featured in Architectural Digest, and Prosper Marketplace, which was named by Biz Journal as one of the Bay Area’s coolest offices.