WDA | William Duff Architects designed a space to embody their firm’s modern aesthetic and sustainable ethos in San Francisco, California.

Its location, along the Folsom Street corridor in the city’s colorful and ever-evolving South of Market (SOMA) neighborhood, places WDA amid the development of Folsom Street as a significant central connector to the civic and cultural destinations along the Van Ness corridor (such as the War Memorial Opera House, Davies Symphony Hall, City Hall and the Main Public Library); the downtown business district; and the Embarcadero waterfront, while giving the WDA team critical access to convenient public transit.

WDA gave new life to a property that was originally developed in the late 1800s. The current building was constructed for industrial use, possibly after the fire that followed the 1906 earthquake (charred wood was found during the excavation for the new foundation), then, over the years, has housed a variety of businesses, from an ornamental iron shop, ice machinery shop and a printing press to a commercial flooring store.

WDA’s design vision was to highlight the building’s manufacturing past, celebrate its original spatial qualities and convey an honest expression of existing materials, while adapting it into a workplace for the times.

The 7,200-square foot, two-level architecture workshop features an open floor plan, including areas for gathering, working and meeting, wellness and break rooms and a rear deck that connects with the outdoors, accessed through a large roll up door. On the exterior, a simple floor side door was removed to bring the façade back to its original symmetrical form.

Inside, a palette of black, white and accented greys provides a modern, neutral backdrop, harmonizing with the historic finishes of wood and concrete. The original building features are now revealed—sandblasted ceiling and truss structure, along with wood decking—and juxtaposed with a new statement staircase in black. Located on axis with the entry lobby and a tree-anchored central gathering area, the staircase connects to the mezzanine which overlooks Folsom Street and features a wall of windows that provide balanced daylight and views to the street below. Flanking that same axis, on the ground floor, is a conference room and the office café featuring casework made of reclaimed redwood joists salvaged from the original building.

To create a workplace for occupant health and comfort and support the Well Building Standard™ in the design, WDA specified energy efficient cooling and heating equipment, along with a more efficient state-of-the-art MERV 13 rated mechanical system for air circulation, independent fresh air intake for all conference rooms, and improved insulation and seals at walls and openings.

WDA’s new office offers a modern, hybrid-style work environment–a place for “serendipitous exchange” among staff and relaxed conversations with clients.

Design: WDA | William Duff Architects
Contractor: Evolv
Photography: Matthew Millman

WDA | William Duff Architects Offices – San Francisco
WDA | William Duff Architects Offices – San Francisco
WDA | William Duff Architects Offices – San Francisco
WDA | William Duff Architects Offices – San Francisco
WDA | William Duff Architects Offices – San Francisco
WDA | William Duff Architects Offices – San Francisco
WDA | William Duff Architects Offices – San Francisco
WDA | William Duff Architects Offices – San Francisco
WDA | William Duff Architects Offices – San Francisco

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