Photo © Rien van Rijthoven

Obscura Digital

IwamotoScott Architecture

San Francisco, California
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Owner: Obscura Digital

Completion Date: December 2010 (main interior), July 2011 (ScreenWall)

Program: A three-story, 36,000-square-foot headquarters for an interactive media company, with a large multifunctional showroom and exhibition area, prototyping workshop spaces, workstations for digital production, offices, and a conference room. The project is an adaptive reuse of a 1940s concrete and steel-frame warehouse in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. IwamotoScott's office shares the building, with an office on the second floor.

Design concept and solution: The architects set out to give Obscura Digital a raw yet more refined version of their previous headquarters, a warehouse on Bryant Street. They also needed to meet the company's limited budget and tight schedule. At the entrance (which is on the second floor), they replaced a short, narrow stair with a 25-foot-wide expanse of wood steps. To make space for a darkened projection theater, IwamotoScott removed three bays from the center of the building to carve out an atrium connecting the first and second floors, which are joined by a new steel-framed aluminum staircase. The atrium is anchored by a 30-foot-diameter geodesic dome that houses a hemispherical projection theater. On the second floor, a freestanding conference room finished in black bamboo paneling overlooks the atrium with a wall of floor-to-ceiling glass. Staff offices line a perimeter wall on the second floor; IwamotoScott partitioned them with tilted, twisting polycarbonate screens that allow light to filter from the offices' windows into the center of the building. To help meet the budget, the architects reused or retained existing materials—such as the original gray carpet on the second floor—and left the existing structure visible. Exposed concrete defines most of the perimeter walls on the first and second floors. Steel structural beams and trusses support exposed wood decking, which doubles as the ceiling finish.

Location: 729 Tennessee Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

Architect and Designer:
IwamotoScott Architecture
729 Tennessee Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 643-7773

October 2011
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