Overview

San Francisco is home to some of the world’s most recognizable, profitable, and fastest-growing companies in the country. Behind every successful company is often a busy workplace. Developing trends, balancing work styles, and understanding fundamental changes are ways that architects approach the task of designing offices. Today’s corporate landscape is about making the workplace a functional, productive, and healthy environment for employees. Architects in the Bay Area are conscious of designing offices that will meet the thriving and demanding needs of the industry. Included on this list are architects who have built some of the most engaging and inspiring offices and campuses in the city.

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 and headquarters for Facebook, Yelp, Linkedin, Yahoo!, Airbnb, Dropbox, Skype, and Twitter, Uber, Pandora, and Microsoft.

Top Architects

Design Blitz

Architects:
Melissa & Seth Hanley

Awards:
IIDA Honors Award

Address:
435 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

About Design Blitz

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.

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 the 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. The firm’s excellent designs have been featured in more than 100 publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Interior Design Magazine, Vanity Fair, and GQ Japan.


Featured Projects

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. 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 workspaces. 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 a Boardroom – a Pod covered in salvaged oak flavor sticks from wine barrels. The innovative and highly functional design achieved LEED Silver certification.


FENNIE+MEHL Architects

Architects:
Ned Fennie & Doug Mehl

Awards:
IIDA Honor Award,
ENR 2014 Best Project Award,
IIDA Give Award,
People’s Choice Award,
IIDA Honor Award,
Build Culture Preservation Award

Address:
300 Brannan Street, Suite 310, San Francisco, CA 94107

About FENNIE+MEHL Architects

FENNIE+MEHL Architects has spent the last 20 years in San Francisco specializing in innovative and collaborative work environments for today’s revolutionary, tech-based business culture. The firm has successfully delivered more than 10 million square feet of space for well-known clients. Its lively and unique office designs can be found across the Bay Area for many recognizable companies. Founders Doug Mehl, AIA and Ned Fennie, AIA 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.

FENNIE+MEHL Architects does not create designs from a cookie-cutter approach, but rather creates spaces that allow a company’s culture to flourish. Its team creates designs that incorporate stories, culture, and unique spaces that represent the clients’ brand and work ethics. The firm has assembled a diverse and multi-disciplinary staff with graduates from leading architectural, interior design, and engineering schools with 20 patents and LEED certifications among them. The firm’s impeccable design spaces have been recognized with awards and press features from local and national industry associations and publications.



Featured Projects

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: 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.


Garcia Tamjidi

Architects:
Michael Garcia & Farid Tamjid

Address:
10 Lombardo Street, Suite 150, San Francisco. CA 94111

About Garcia Tamjidi

For 20 years, San Francisco’s top companies have trusted Garcia Tamjidi to design its efficient and innovative office spaces. Michael Garcia and Farid Tamjidi founded Garcia Tamjidi in 1997 offering a wide variety of services, including architecture, interior design, urban planning, LEED consulting, and construction services. Garcia and Tamjidi both studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where they met, and since then have worked together on different architecture projects. Although its designs are known to exhibit a minimalistic aesthetic design, the firm is not limited to this style. The firm’s portfolio includes a multitude of projects including the downtown office space for Kendo and luxury offices for a venture capital firm.

“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 the concept, and also on simplicity. We believe that architecture is a dance of decision and opportunity.” – Garcia Tamjidi. The team is committed to marrying over 100 years of architectural theories with its newest ideas. The practice uses state of the art technology to create truly innovative designs. Garcia Tamjidi’s commercial works are also featured on the San Francisco Architects magazine’s Best Commercial Architects list.


Featured Projects

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 desks, 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 temporary office space for the Parker Foundation in Presidio.


Gensler

Architects:
Art Gensler

Awards:
AIA Architecture Firm Award,
Design Futures Council Lifetime Achievement Award

Address:
2101 Webster Street, Suite 2000, Oakland, CA 94612

About Gensler

Gensler is the world’s largest architecture and design firm founded right 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 spaces. In the Bay Area alone, this includes designing Facebook’s Menlo Park campus, creative space for Pixar, and a workspace for WIRED.

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. Although Art Gensler stepped down as chairman in 2010, his legacy 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.



Featured Projects

One of Gensler’s largest and well-known workspace project Is the nearly 1 million square foot Menlo Park Facebook Campus. The 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. This campus has been featured in countless national and international publications. Gensler previously designed Facebook’s downtown Palo Alto office in 2008. 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.

Gensler also 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.