Obscura Digital / IwamotoScott – San Francisco Offices

Back in 2010, IwamotoScott worked with interactive media company Obscura Digital to design an office space in San Francisco that would be shared by both companies – an agreement that was reached in lieu of charging design fees – but also useful as both frequently collaborate on projects together.

Obscura Digital, a ten year old well-recognized immersive and interactive media company, recently relocated from their former headquarters in a warehouse on Bryant Street. The project called for innovative strategies regarding construction techniques and material selection to meet the very strict budget and schedule constraints while still offering a unique design that reflects the company’s cutting-edge artistic ethos.

Obscura’s work involves design, r&d, fabrication and installation across a range of digital media, including architectural projections and large interactive touchscreens. Programmatic requirements for their space includes a office and meeting space for the partners and staff, a large multi-functioning showroom and exhibition area, workstations for digital production, and prototyping workshop spaces.

The new space is within a three story 1940’s concrete and steel frame warehouse in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco, shared with IwamotoScott’s office. The main programmatic elements are distributed with the prototyping workshop and showroom on the lower level, reception, main offices and meeting spaces on the middle level, and production on the top level. A main aspect of the redesign of this warehouse involves the removal of three bays at the center of the building to form a spatial connection between the lower and mid levels. This move also allows the installation of one of Obscura’s hemispherical projection theaters housed within a 30’ diameter geodesic dome.

Overlooking this new double height space is a central conference room designed as a freestanding object peering over the end of the new void, oriented towards the dome. One side of this ‘meeting box’ is kinked inward to adapt to existing seismic bracing and allow a communication stair to slip alongside that connects the two levels at the edge of the void. This meeting box is treated as sculptural object with different interior and exterior materialities.

A broad new stair at the entry allows an easy spatial flow into the reception area, partners’ offices and central meeting space. Partner and staff offices are defined by twisting polycarbonate screen walls that allow filtered views, as well as the transmission of natural light from perimeter windows and skylights above.

Design: IwamotoScott
Project Team: Blake Altshuler, Magda Mello, Ryan Golenberg, Juliet Hsu, Alexa Getting
Photography: Courtesy IwamotoScott