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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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