Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
San Francisco, California
“The design team achieved success beyond any of our expectations or imaginations.”
Located in San Francisco’s China Basin neighborhood just opposite the SF Giants stadium, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) headquarters is designed to meet the organization’s unique needs in addressing national health issues and health policy. Unlike traditional non-profits, KFF develops and runs its own non-partisan policy analysis, polling, and journalism programs, including Kaiser Health News, and their new office directly accommodates these specialized functions.
In addressing the space—a former industrial warehouse—Bohlin Cywinski Jackson tackled the challenge of creating an open, airy, collaborative headquarters with extraordinary views to San Francisco Bay, while at the same time allowing occupants to do focused, individual work. The inherent conflict between these two objectives informed the solution, which includes a novel approach that strategically locates clusters of glass-enclosed individual offices to feel private and inward-focused when seated at a desk, but transparent and open to daylight and views when standing.
The office design incorporates existing steel sash windows and exposed raw concrete columns with modern elements and a materials palette of reclaimed walnut, bronze, and teak. The material palette is warm and inviting and architectural detailing is crisp and contemporary to convey an image of substance for the Foundation. Upon entering the lobby, guests are greeted by an active LED News Ticker Chyron wall that features the latest heath news headlines. The news information display is incorporated into an illustrative health care history timeline exhibit, developed in collaboration with the client. These two elements—headlines and history—travel in parallel along the entry wall to be experienced simultaneously.
Another of the project’s major design objectives was to improve staff collaboration and cohesion. The kitchen and lunchroom are strategically placed in the center of the workplace to create a hub for social interaction. Seating areas along main interior corridors allow opportunities for casual gathering, while shared meeting rooms give board members, the media, or KFF’s Washington, D.C. colleagues a place to work during their stay.
At the heart of the office is a large multifunctional Conference Center space for events, which incorporates advanced acoustics, movable glass walls, flexible furniture for different set ups, state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, and food service support, providing KFF a dedicated place for internal workshops and presentations. The foundation also encourages outside organizations to use the space, free of charge, as part of their outreach to the community.