TEF Design Creates a Bespoke, Light Filled Office in San Francisco

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Chair of the Month

Emma Weckerling
Emma Weckerling
Emma is the Managing Editor of Work Design Magazine.

TEF Design transformed and expanded the Bay Area headquarters for a financial investment company.

Project Overview:

  • Design Firm: TEF Design
  • Client: Confidential
  • Completion Date: 2022
  • Location: San Francisco, California, USA
  • Size: 13,000 sqft

Leveraging off the shelf products to create bespoke results, and detailed to prioritize light, materiality and craft, this tenant improvement by TEF Design transforms an existing 8,000-square-feet of built office space and adjacent 5,000-square-feet of vacant space into a single workplace, organized around distinct functional zones to meet the diverse needs of a private equity firm focused on hotel and restaurant investments.

The main entry was relocated to take advantage of San Francisco Bay views and to define a communal zone for gathering that consolidates reception, an art gallery wall, conference rooms, and casual seating areas well-suited for entertaining guests and clients. This central hub creates a link between the shared workspace zone and a private founder’s wing, defined by handcrafted vertical wood slat walls that provide privacy and transparency at the same time.

The flexible work zone features perimeter, glass-fronted private offices that define a promenade of open workspaces anchored by a low-walled beverage station, detailed in wood and custom metals, that provides a perch and informal touch-down space for morning huddles and “water cooler” chat. Between offices, a multipurpose collaboration area – marking the location of the previous suite entrance – borrows ample daylight from the atrium of the building corridor. Support spaces and administrative records at the far end of the work zone are hidden by a wood screen wall. Designed for flexibility and growth, the zone is wired and prepped to facilitate additional open desktops and future demising walls in each office.

On the opposite side of the communal hub, a private zone – designed to prioritize security and discretion – comprises an executive suite with separate entrance, restroom, and a breakroom / catering kitchen with views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The scope of work entailed demolition and construction of new walls, interior glazing, doors, ceilings, lighting and electrical and mechanical systems. The latter, located below a raised floor, and the desire for exceptional acoustics – particularly in light of the exposed concrete ceiling throughout the space – were key challenges. The TEF Design team worked closely with acoustical specialists to design an integrated air transfer system, concealed behind millwork louvers, that mitigates sound transfer without adding any visible elements to the ceilings or walls. Under floor mechanical and fan units, carefully located to reduce sound and vibration within proximity of staff, are accessible but invisible. Fabric wrapped walls and customized acoustical ceiling tiles – featuring metal trim and enclosed by floating painted millwork “boxes” – further enhance acoustical performance.

Customized wood screening elements, finished in light oak, maintain views while distinguishing the public and private zones of the office. They also establish a subtle design language echoed in details including graphics and fixtures throughout the office. Light coffers and a custom display system also highlight an extensive art collection with museum-like quality throughout the space.

Project Planning

The C-suite occupant was intimately involved throughout TEF Design’s planning and design process. The schematic planning effort also engaged user stakeholders, followed by iterative check-ins by the design team through subsequent phases.

Project Details

Exploiting exposure to daylight and abundant nature – via use of glass, equitable access to view corridors, and operable windows – was a fundamental project goal. TEF Design used sustainable Shinnoki wood products as a prevailing interior material to contribute to the space’s biophilic benefits in addition to specification of sustainable and non-toxic furniture, finishes, and materials as much as possible. The program features a flexible wellness room for employees and the project’s access to outdoor open space and location directly above a fitness center, also contributes to user health and wellness.


Project Summary

  • Architecture and Interiors: TEF Design
  • Contractor: BCCI Builders
  • Millwork: Commercial Casework
  • Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing Engineers: Camissa + Wipf
  • Lighting Design: Architecture + Light
  • Acoustic Consulting: Arup

Design Team

  • Douglas Tom, FAIA, Principal in Charge
  • Bobbie Fisch, Consulting Design Principal
  • Jennifer Tulley, AIA, Project Architect
  • Paul Loeffler, Lead Project Designer
  • Gretchen Korsmo, Team
  • Rebecca Cisneros, Team
  • Paul Leveriza, Team

Photography credit

  • David Wakely
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