Making an Entrance
SmithGroup designs a dramatic lobby for Leo Burnett's tech group in San Francisco's historic Jackson Square.
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 11/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
At global creative agency Leo Burnett, everybody understands the value of a good first impression. And the company's San Francisco office, designed by the SmithGroup, drives the point home. Stepping off the elevator, visitors are welcomed by a swooping, elliptical lobby that recalls the designs of Morris Lapidus and mid-century Scandinavia in equal measure. The lobby, says principal Michael Nolan, was conceived as an "intervention" within the office proper, "which is much more orthogonal and responds to the 19th-century architecture of the building." With warm, curvaceous walls of perforated birch plywood, a glossy epoxy floor, and an undulating gypsum-board canopy hovering like a cloud overhead, the lobby is indeed a dramatic counterpoint to the structure's exposed-brick walls and timber detailing.
"We envisioned the lobby as a centerpiece and thought it could facilitate navigation through the building," which is actually four contiguous structures dating from the 1860s. Nolan punched openings into the bearing walls throughout, creating sight lines toward the lobby to ease orientation. For security purposes, the client requested a self-contained space that could be completely closed off from the office proper. "We wanted to create a surround but didn't want it to feel fortified," concludes Nolan, accounting for the peekaboo walls and slivers of space above and below the partitions.
Credit is also extended to project manager Juhee Cho.