An Office That Promotes Wellness and Increases Awareness at a Forest’s Edge

Taking advantage of a unique setting in a national park, BraytonHughes created a cathartic work environment that promotes a sense of wellbeing by allowing nature to speak the loudest.

BraytonHughes Design Studios latest office space project was designed for the San Francisco-based venture capital firm, Luminate Capital Partners at the Presidio’s Letterman Digital Arts Center, located in the idyllic setting of The Presidio.

Taking advantage of the unique setting in a national park, BraytonHughes created a cathartic work environment that promotes a sense of wellbeing by allowing nature to speak the loudest. Sunlight drapes the building through large windows that showcase expansive views of the park’s greenery. Instead of walls extending to the ceiling, clerestory windows between the perimeter spaces provide an upper level of glass, admitting light flow between private workspaces. Mirrors and reflective surfaces express subtle changes when light shifts throughout the day, supporting the circadian rhythms of employees’ internal clocks.

To let nature take center stage, BraytonHughes limited the amount of information inputs in the design; simplifying the number of materials, removing grid lines on the ceiling and running light fixtures in the same direction to avoid competing visual lines, the firm was able to create a space that heightens perception of the surrounding environment and quiets overactive, overstimulated minds.

Janea Nakagawa, principal at the firm and lead on this particular project, felt passionately about creating a well edited palette with a distinct hierarchy of form, scale, color, material, and texture, for these organizing principles help to create a space that is restful to the eye instead of overwhelming. The quiet interiors help the user focus less on mental processing and more on experiencing sensations afforded by the light, textures and art.

When was the project completed?

September 2019

How many SF per person?

The project is 3,699 sf

How many employees work here?

9

What is average daily population?

7

Describe work space type.

A combination of 10 private offices, 1 board room, 1 small conference room, 1 lounge space, and open office/work space

What other kinds of support or amenity spaces are provided?

A break room, lounge space, and an informal meeting space.

What is the projects location and proximity to public transportation and/or other amenities?

Luminate Capital Partners is located at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in the Presidio, serviced by the free PresidioGo Shuttle and Golden Gate Transit bus. The Presidio encompasses a Presidio Visitor Center where visitors can get oriented, a museum and cultural center called Presidio Officer’s Club where people can learn about the park’s rich history, trails for hiking, space for picnicking, and scenic overlooks. The Presidio is also home to the popular destination, Crissy Field, and nearly a dozen restaurants, from casual cafes to special occasion destinations.

Was the C-suite involved in the project planning and design process? If so, how?

Yes; Hollie Haynes, the founder of the company, was the person responsible for working with BraytonHughes on the planning and design, informing the overall look and feel with her vision and selecting art by artists such as Susan Swartz, who carries nature as inspiration for her richly layered pieces, and Nicholas Coley, who references the natural landscape in abstract watercolors. The interiors are intimate with the outside, with materials, tones, and delicately differentiated surfaces reinforcing the out-of-the-ordinary setting of office space in a beautiful park like The Presidio. Hollie worked closely with BraytonHughes to create such a unique environment.

What kind of programming or visioning activities were used to create the space?

 The basis for the new plan was derived from an extensive interview and programming phase.

Please describe any program requirements that were unique or required any special research or design requirements.

Teams faced a tight timeline for preconstruction and construction, so a design-build approach was used for the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Fortunately, having completed other projects in the same building, the project contractor BCCI Construction had extensive knowledge of the building infrastructure and owner requirements. BCCI procured long-lead items such as custom glass, carpet, wood flooring and acoustical ceilings early to ensure materials were on-site before installation dates so critical project milestones were met. The new workplace with interiors by BraytonHughes combines industrial features such as concrete columns with polished materials such as glass office fronts. Private offices are encased in clear glass, contributing a feeling of openness.

Was there any emphasis or requirements on programming for health and wellbeing initiatives for employees?

BraytonHughes created a work environment that highlights the unique park setting and promotes a sense of wellbeing by allowing nature to speak the loudest. Sunlight drapes the building through large windows that showcase expansive views of the park’s greenery.

Instead of walls extending to the ceiling, clerestory windows between the perimeter spaces provide an upper level of glass, admitting light flow between private workspaces. Even when working in a smaller office, one feels as if the space is extending outward toward the sky, with a feeling of breathability and connectedness. Mirrors and reflective surfaces express subtle changes when light shifts throughout the day, supporting the circadian rhythms of employees’ internal clocks.

Were there any special or unusual construction materials or techniques employed in the project?

A textured suede wall in the reception room initially reads as a solid wall, but with hushed lighting falling across it, invites a closer inspection and touch to discover a soft material – much like encountering eucalyptus tree bark, petal skin or stone in nature. In addition to suede, BraytonHughes’ use of fabric and plaster surfaces elsewhere provides relief from a digital age in which office workers spend a great deal of time on devices with smooth keys and screens.

The range of textured surfaces register uniquely across spaces, yet users experience the interiors as a cohesive whole. This is due to BraytonHughes’ careful attention to the simplification of building materials, repetition of light fixture types to avoid visual clutter, and larger modules used for acoustical ceiling tile to minimize grid lines. By distilling light fixtures and expressing them uniformly and removing distracting lines and noise from the ceiling, BraytonHughes was able to create quiet interiors without many information inputs so the user can focus less on mental processing and more on experiencing sensations afforded by the light, textures, and art.

What kind of branding elements were incorporated into the design?

The company’s name “Luminate” is a parallel reference to the interiors concept of light, transparency and airiness. No explicit branding elements were incorporated into the design aside from the company logo on the glass next to the front door.

What is the most unique feature of the space?

The space is unique by its departure from the look and feel of Silicon Valley office design. The calming, nature-inspired interiors and artwork reflect the vision of female entrepreneur, Hollie Haynes, founder and managing partner at Luminate Capital Partners. Project design goals included creating a comfortable working environment for the users, achieved through casual and residential furnishings, natural palettes, a combination of ample natural light and quiet light fixtures, and pieces by local artists that add to the environmental calm.

Richly layered art pieces by a friend of Hollie’s, Susan Swartz, add vibrant energy and pops of color that harmonize with earth tone colors in the interior design. As abstract explorations of the landscape, Swartz’ work, like the interiors, carry nature as inspiration and inspire feelings of relaxed attentiveness and expansiveness.

Are there any furnishings or spaces specifically included to promote wellness/wellbeing?

Instead of walls extending to the ceiling, clerestory windows between the perimeter spaces provide an upper level of glass, admitting light flow between private workspaces. Even when working in a smaller office, one feels as if the space is extending outward toward the sky, with a feeling of breathability and connectedness.

 

What was the most difficult aspect of the change for the employees?

Luminate was relocating from an extremely suboptimal space so there were no difficult aspects, as the new space was such a significant improvement.

Is there anything else that would help us tell the story of this project?

Much like BraytonHughes worked to lessen the amount of information inputs in the design – by simplifying the number of materials, removing grid lines on the ceiling and running fixtures in the same direction to avoid competing visual lines –  the bright green acrylic paint in artist Susan Swartz’ canvas does not strike the viewer as information as much as a catalyst for feeling and meditative contemplation.

Like abstract art, Luminate Capital office space resists easy description and articulation. Entering the space, one does not know what it is exactly, but it is felt – in the realm of classic, where one never tires of a space that feels calm.

Who were the key contributors to this project?

Interior Designer and Architect: BraytonHughes Design Studios

General Contractor: BCCI Construction

Lighting Design: Hiram Banks

Furniture Dealer: CRI

Lighting: Holly Hunt, Boyd Lighting

Carpet: Vaheed Tahari, Shaw

Casegoods: Custom, HBF, Halcon

Seating: A. Rudin, Baker, Knoll, Bright Furniture, Herman Miller

Millwork: Commercial Casework

Images are courtesy of Paul-Dyer & Luminate
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