San Francisco

People and Products


A soaring symbol of San Francisco’s past, 140 New Montgomery—also known as the PacBell Building—has become a hub for some of the Bay Area’s most forward-looking companies. The city’s tallest building when it was completed in 1925 for Pacific Telephone & Telegraph, its main tenant these days is Yelp. Staffers for the restaurant and retail-reviews site occupy the lower 13 floors of the 26-story tower, all designed by Studio O+A.

O+A’s latest office project holds a place of honor within the PacBell—the penthouse— now home to the San Francisco office of Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company. Unlike other floors, the penthouse, originally a ballroom, has retained much of its ornate Art Deco detailing, particularly the elaborate hand-painted molded-plaster ceiling, which once covered the ballroom’s public areas and was already restored.

Below it, original oak floors complement the molding’s autumnal colors. The pecan wood O+A selected for conference room doors and wall paneling keys in with the orange that is the Alibaba signature color. Perimeter walls feature exposed brick. Fairly standard materials are used throughout— Carrara marble on kitchen surfaces and the reception desk, subtly striated carpeting over concrete portions of the floor. O+A eschewed custom desks and case goods in favor of off-the-shelf office systems. The tall dining table features bar stools for a more communal atmosphere.

“This is a new era for tech offices,” says O+A cofounder Primo Orpilla. “They need to set a more friendly, approachable tone. We left Alibaba raw and unfinished so that it has a warehouse feel merged with classic details.”



Interior Designer:

Studio O+A
452 Tehama Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Personnel in firm who should receive special credit:

Denise Cherry, Principal; Alma Lopez, Designer; Kelly Waters, Project Designer; Sarah Dziuba, 3D Visualization Lead; Grant Usken, Project Manager; Clem Soga, Senior Architect; Renee Laput-Mendoza, Project Designer 

Engineers: Vaziri & Associates

Furniture Dealer: MG West

General contractor: Principal Builders

Photographer: Jasper Sanidad



Interior finishes

Acoustical ceilings: Ceiling Panel – Unika Vaev, Armstrong

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork: Plant Architectural Woodwork

Paints and stains: ICI/Glidden

Wall coverings: Callidus Guild Wallpaper, Olea Plastering, Plant Architectural Woodwork

Solid surfacing: Caesarstone – London Grey/5000

Floor and wall tile: Artistic Tile Tivoli Silver

Carpet: Bentley Mills


Office furniture: Knoll

Reception furniture: Northwood Design Partners

Chairs: Herman Miller – Steelwood Stools

Tables:  Knoll

Other furniture (use additional sheet if necessary): Herman Miller Management Chairs


Interior ambient lighting:  Gotham, Lumini, Nora Lighting, Pinnacle, Rich Brilliant Willing

Downlights: Roll & Hill