Zendesk – San Francisco Headquarters

  • Client Zendesk,
  • size 75,000 sqft
  • Year 2014
  • Location California, San Francisco, United States,
  • Industry Hardware / Software Development,
  • Blitz Architecture + Interiors has recently completed the design of a new headquarters for customer service software company Zendesk. The 75,000sqft office is located in San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood.

    Zendesk, a customer service software provider, was one of the first tech companies to move to San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood to take advantage of the city’s tax incentive program, and the first to sign a community benefits agreement. After experiencing large-scale growth, it was only natural for the company to seek an additional space in the neighborhood they called home. Zendesk’s new office marks its second building on Market Street, creating an urban campus that assists in the revival of the long-neglected Mid-Market neighborhood. The new building not only serves as a headquarters for the growing Zendesk team, but also as opens its doors as a communal hub for local businesses and residents.

    Visitors are guided into the space through the wrapping form of the entry canopy, which shares the same geometry with the reception desk and illuminated swag shelving. With both retail and hospitality influences, the reception area demonstrates Zendesk’s dedication to excellent customer service. Both the ground floor with reception and the basement floor below are designed to be open and public facing, where Zendesk team members can grab a booth for a quick meeting, or the company can host events. As such, the two floors are connected physically by stadium seating and stairs, and visually through a vertical moss wall that spans between the two. Cutouts in the floorplate of the ground floor provide a visual connection to the basement and allow natural light to extend below.

    The qualities of being airy, humble, charming, and uncomplicated are what make up the core of Zendesk’s brand attributes, and were used as guiding principles for design. Zendesk wanted the space to feel light and open, but also varied and textured. By including secluded and darker spaces, Blitz created a contrasting atmosphere that emphasizes the airiness of the open office. Organic materials were selected throughout to harmonize with the building’s existing finishes and emphasize Zendesk’s humble qualities. The company’s charming attributes are also evident throughout, from the ground floor devoted entirely to reception, to pops of green cheekily inserted into the calm and neutral palette. Finally, Blitz took a reductionist approach, looking for opportunities to reduce rather than add. The result is an uncomplicated yet thoughtful space that combines minimalism with warmth.

    Another key design influence was the Danish concept of “hygge,” which roughly translates to “coziness.” Blitz created spaces with lowered ceilings and muted lighting, finished with soft, acoustic wall coverings and natural materials to create an inviting contrast to the bright and large open office area. Custom-designed booths create cozy refuges for meetings and focused work. Wood canopies extend from the kitchens, providing additional nooks and shelters. The new office blurs the line between home, hospitality, and workplace, merging all the comforts and qualities of each.

    Just as Zendesk’s social outreach goal is to support existing neighborhood efforts, the new headquarters is designed to harmonize with the building’s existing structure. Located in the historic Eastern Outfitting Co. building, the space retains its original rafters, California pine support beams, sealed concrete floors, and uncovered brick walls. When allocating space for meeting rooms, Blitz left the brick walls on the eastern side exposed, and instead inserted meeting rooms on the opposite wall between utility spaces that had originally jutted out into the space. Blitz disguised these core and shell utility rooms on each floor behind clean white walls, which act as veils and run diagonally from the north to the south ends of the narrow, L-shaped building. All elements that extrude from these white planes are finished in soft wood, creating a textured, layered environment.

    With interior architecture by Blitz, core and shell work by Studio TMT, and a newly refurbished exterior by Page and Turnbull, the combined efforts of the project team have revitalized one of San Francisco’s architectural gems. By bringing in increased foot traffic and assisting in activating ground floor retail spaces, Zendesk is hoping to work with neighbors and reduce crime in the Mid- Market neighborhood. The bright LED-lit office acts a beacon; it invites passersby to stop and appreciate the historic beauty of the area, as well as its potential for future growth.

    DesignBlitz Architecture + Interiors
    Furniture: Two
    Photography: Bruce Damonte