Argonaut by Huntsman Architectural Group: 2016 Best of Year Winner for Midsize Media/Tech Office

PROJECT NAME Argonaut Headquarters
LOCATION San Francisco
FIRM Huntsman Architectural Group
SQ. FT. 25,000 SQF

Janis Joplin sang here. So did the Grateful Dead and the Doors. And that was just one chapter in the long history of the Avalon Ballroom. It was built in 1911 as a dance academy before becoming a music venue. When the 1960’s waned, it morphed into a movie house and, decades later, office space. Fledgling advertising agency Argonaut, hunting for a headquarters, applauded the Avalon’s creative backstory and wide-open volume. So principal David Meckley was hired to transform the namesake ballroom, on two, into a highly collaborative, no-assigned-seats work space as part of a 25,000-square-foot revamp.


The color palette throughout is intentionally neutral. As Argonaut chief creative officer Hunter Hindman says, “Our identity is simple black-and-white in order to let the work for our clients shine. I think I drove the folks at Huntsman a little crazy by rejecting more colors.” Drama lies in the details. Meckley refurbished the old movie-house escalator, which now ferries visitors upstairs and deposits them near the reception area’s beveled black-walnut check-in desk. Work desking throughout is hot-rolled steel. In a nod to the Avalon Ballroom’s past, he installed a stagelike platform that can serve as informal meeting space. The executive boardroom is on the mezzanine balcony.


Argonaut’s production work happens down on the ground level, with its walls of exposed blackened brick. Keeping the psychedelic ’60’s alive, a street-front gallery displays original rock ’n’ roll posters. 


Project Team: Elise Beaty; Pamela Robinson; Skip Soskin; Alaina Ladner; Lauren Jordan; Alison Woolf; Rene Calara; Frédéric Côté; Roy Wilson; Andrew Volckens; Iris Chan; Joanne Heringer; Jena Kissinger; Brooke Beeson.


> See more from the December 2016 issue of Interior Design

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