Sanjay Gangal is the President of IBSystems, the parent company of AECCafe.com, MCADCafe, EDACafe.Com, GISCafe.Com, and ShareCG.Com.
OCA Interior Renovation for SWA in Sausalito, California by Ojanen Chiou architects (designed using AutoCAD and SketchUp)
October 18th, 2011 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Ojanen Chiou architects LLP
The home office of internationally renowned landscape architecture firm SWA Group is a 12,000sf (1,200sm) warehouse located near San Francisco Bay that was originally used in the manufacture of Liberty ships during WWII from1942-1945. Ojanen_Chioiu architects LLP was commissioned to re-conceptualize the 1980’s-era entry lobby that had outlived its functionality and lacked a strong spatial or material resonance with the firm’s work and identity.
The design concept for the new lobby space embraces a common theme in landscape architecture: bridging interior and exterior. A primary material, Cor-ten steel, was used to create this “bridge” and to organize the various programmatic spaces. Cor-ten steel was chosen because of its contemporary look, warm color and rich texture that complement the lush landscape, ability to withstand the harsh marine environment in an exterior application, and as an allusion to the history of the site.
A continuous surface created from 4.76mm thick Cor-ten steel panels, leads from the parking lot, through the lobby, and to the large open studio space beyond. Along this path the surface transforms from signage at the exterior, to wainscoting at the entry, to reception counters and low partition walls at the lobby and along main circulation corridor.
The panels were “floated” in front of the existing drywall to distinguish new and old and to give impression of lightness to an otherwise heavy material. The connection of the panels to the support structure was painstakingly engineered and detailed in order to eliminate exposed fasteners. Because of the weight of the panels and the need to resist lateral forces in this high-seismic zone, threaded rods were welded to the back of the panels then carefully templated and bolted to the wood studs and blocking within the supporting walls. The surface of the panels was pre-patinated and left un-sealed to preserve the inherent qualities of the material.
Translucent and clear glass were used as secondary materials to screen the work area and conference room while allowing the flow of natural light throughout the space. Wall and countertop colors were kept neutral allowing the geometry and subtle hues of the Cor-ten steel to become the primary focus of the space.
By using a simple material in a transformative way, Ojanen_Chiou architects was able to create a space that not only embodies the philosophy of the firm that it serves, but speaks to the industrial, maritime heritage of the building and its historical context.
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