301 Howard Street
Located at the heart of the emerging Transbay Terminal area, the building at the corner of Howard and Beale Streets suffered from an oddly configured corner entrance and under-utilized adjacent retail spaces. In order to remain competitive and attractive in the surrounding urban development, 301 Howard Street required a comprehensive renovation. The new vision for was clear: transform the indistinguishable building entry into a welcoming and provocative beacon that serves as a new public amenity for tenants and visitors.
The first step was to substantially reposition the building entrance from the corner to the center of the Howard Street facade. The new location provides clearer sightlines, improved access, and also increases the rentable ground floor retail space. An inspirational metaphor was established for the lobby's design through the concept of tidal movement - "push and pull". This gesture directly correlates the historic shoreline of the San Francisco Bay with the urban renewal of the SoMa neighborhood, which was once a harbor itself.
The aquatic metaphor finds resonance in all aspects of the lobby's design, from light and materiality to the furniture selection. Scalloped layers of sanded plaster provide a dramatic backdrop at the ceiling plane, further emphasized by ribbons of light. This undulating gesture is mirrored in the reveals of the terrazzo flooring, where pieces of glass achieve a sparkling luminosity. The patterned concrete wall at the building’s core serves as an elegant interpretation of a seawall, while the wood wrapped elevator lobbies mimic wooden docks. The custom-fabricated seating sculptures by renowned artist, Matthias Pliessnig, were deliberately stained in driftwood tones, and are constructed much like the lightweight seagoing vessels the artist also produces.
As light filters through the building façade throughout the day, interior lighting levels correspond, creating a different, dramatic impression each time one traverses the lobby. Through a restrained yet striking design, the new lobby enhances the visitor experience by creating a strong sense of place. This maximizes the value potential of the building and its ground floor spaces as an asset to the neighborhood.
Client Vanbarton Group
Location San Francisco, CA
Scope Lobby Renovation
Size 2,700 square feet
Art and Furniture Special Commendation
AIASF Design Awards
Award for Interior Lighting Design
IES Illumination Awards
Credits Photography by David Wakely