Known as the Temazcal Room, this newly developed amenity space, located off the main lobby of the Bay Area Metro Center in downtown San Francisco, provides a flexible, light-filled venue designed for a wide range of uses to support office tenants working above. The buildout is one of multiple interior development projects designed by TEF Design within the building, including the top four floors, as part of the award-winning transformation of the c.1942 former post office, into a shared headquarters for the Bay Area’s most progressive government agencies a few years prior.
The design team was charged with articulating a vision for the 4,274-square-foot space, the last remaining cold shell on the ground floor, and crafting a setting to advance the culture and purpose of the building’s anchor tenants: the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Association of Bay Area Governments, and the Bay Conservation and Development Commission.
Extensive engagement revealed the need for informal social interaction and communication on the ground floor to support meetings in the adjacent Board Room as well as activities in the conference center located across the lobby. It was also important to reinforce culture and collaboration across organizations, through assembly and events, ranging from staff celebrations to press conferences, as well as provide a potential revenue-generating asset when not in use by tenants.
Its design leverages soaring ceiling heights and north and west facing windows of the same measure that connect occupants with the urban fabric of the city just outside its doors, including stunning views to the skyline and an adjacent, landscaped pedestrian mall. Multiple “rooms” within the space facilitate diverse simultaneous uses, supported by furniture and space planning that prioritize efficient circulation and flexibility.
Infrastructure for catering – featuring a food service/ cafe bar and back of house kitchen – and extensive audio-visual technology for conference, performance, and assembly events, are seamlessly integrated. Existing conditions, ranging from uneven floor slabs to base building infrastructure constraints and poor acoustical performance, were key challenges.
The design team worked closely with acoustical consultants Salter to develop sound-absorbing solutions to the preponderance of concrete surface throughout the space, including the installation of acoustic gyp at soffits, fabric panel walls and acoustic baffles. Uneven floors were addressed with a leveling compound that mimics the surface quality and aggregate of the existing concrete. And different ceiling heights within the space were reconciled by integrating a soffit that conveniently conceals HVAC systems.
The main “room” – stretching across the length of the space from the lobby entrance to the exterior plaza – prioritizes flexibility to accommodate different uses, with its proximity to the projection system, three large screens, and additional monitor mounts, and its adjacency to the cafe/bar and kitchen amenities.
Design features include a custom tile backsplash that provides a colorful backdrop to the cafe/bar, and a large, custom table on casters – utilizing the same recycled wood from the demolished Transbay Terminal wood piles nearby used in the TEF-designed coffee bars on the upper floors – to facilitate its mobility. Adjacent seating areas, featuring furniture and built-ins, were designed to support a variety of more intimate activities and socializing.
Finishes and colors throughout the space reference the design of the building’s upper floors for cohesion, with the addition of custom seating designed for the outdoor plaza, its pop of orange, an additional reference to the interior palette of the regional agency headquarters housed at the top of the building. As an assembly and commercial space within a government building, the design team shepherded the project through review and approvals by the Division of the State Architect and State Fire Marshal to meet the highest standards for life-safety and accessibility.