It speaks volumes
Lisa Tennyson -- Interior Design, 5/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
Hear Pei Cobb Freed & Partners's San Francisco Public Library, in the city's burgeoning mid-Market area, is a different kind of literary endeavor. It's the office of publisher Jossey-Bass, a subsidiary of John Wiley & Sons. To make employees feel at home, Richard Pollack & Associates based the design concept on that of a book. The office's 35,000 square feet are divided between two nearly identical floors, each with the main circulation corridor making up the "spine," workstations acting as the "text," and the surrounding conference rooms, public corridors, and display shelves being the "jacket."
Reception marks the top of the "spine" on the lower floor. Visitors are greeted by a custom desk fronted by serrated maple and topped by frosted tempered glass 1 inch thick. An ocular painted-steel pendant fixture softens the canted ceiling, while a natural coir rug and bamboo floor supply contrasting textures. The covers of recent Jossey-Bass publications, such as General Architecture & Design and Solid State Physics, stand out in colorful contrast to black maple shelves and two lounge chairs upholstered in a black cotton-polyester blend.
Facing the lounge chairs is a cushioned seating nook that responds to an unusual site condition: The block-long stone office building is glazed only on the ends, leaving Jossey-Bass somewhat lacking in natural light. Installing maple slats in the alcove and backlighting them was principal architect David Galullo's ingenious way to create a faux window seat. "You could curl up there with a good book," he says.
Beyond reception, the spine extends to form the main circulation corridor, where Galullo left mechanicals exposed to take advantage of the 13-foot ceiling but suspended fabric-wrapped panels 2 feet below the ductwork to help control acoustics. Small meeting areas mark the corridor's 125-foot length. At the end of the corridor, one of the meeting areas affords an unobstructed Market Street view through a 13-foot-tall window.
On one side of the spine, a shift in the carpeting—from the corridor's gray straw pattern to dissected maple leaves—delineates the staff-only "text" of the book, with its clusters of workstations for 135 employees.
Across the spine from the staff area, Galullo signified the book "jacket" by placing a meeting room and two adjacent conference rooms behind low drywall partitions and glass sheets held in place by steel tubing. Additional fabric-wrapped panels dampen noise inside. The meeting room features striped armchairs and a blocky maple coffee table. The conference rooms' tables are by Charles and Ray Eames.
Along the public corridors, Jossey-Bass titles line MDF display shelves whose gently undulating profile evokes the curve of an open book's pages—a concept that developed over the course of six months. "This project was exceptionally collaborative," says Galullo. For Jossey-Bass, he's written a book with a happy ending.