Bay Area Metro Center
Design Firm: TEF
The Bay Area Metro Center is a new collaborative workplace that consolidates four government agencies charged with regional planning and policy – the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Association of Bay Area Governments and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission – in a shared home for the first time. The goals of the consolidation: to foster teamwork and closer working relationships, pool resources and gain operational efficiencies, and to raise public awareness of their intersecting mission.
The monolithic building – a cavernous, 8-story concrete structure occupying an entire city block — was built as a military tank assembly plant in 1942 with low, 10’ ceilings and massive football field-sized floor plates, punctuated every 25’ by concrete columns. Its transformation into a welcoming, light-filled space that fosters unity across multiple floors and significant distance was achieved by carving an atrium — lit by an energy-reducing skylight and featuring an interior language of exposed natural wood — into the center of the building to bring daylight within 60’ of every workspace. Like a geode, the building’s most distinctive and unexpected treasure – a soaring atrium — lies within.
Occupying the top four floors of the building, the interior concept for the new multi-agency headquarters expresses shared common values around urban planning, smart growth, and environmental stewardship while supporting collaboration within and between partner agencies. A reference to city planning, it introduces destinations, districts, neighborhoods, and primary and secondary streets, with a focus on shared spaces, including a secondary, two-story atrium in the shared library, a floating staircase in the atrium, and circulating stairs within agency floors to provide immediate access. Within the atrium, terraces for informal gathering and people-watching are featured near large, open coffee bars. Three distinct neighborhoods on each floor provide intimate zones, reinforced by color and graphics. At the ground level, a large room for commission hearings, multiple conference rooms, break-out spaces, two libraries, a bike storage area, and ground-floor retail provide welcoming public amenities for the future.
The LEED Gold-targeted rehabilitation averts the relocation of a 500,000 sf building to landfill and features recycled materials — including much of the exposed wood used for stair treads, countertops and wall finishes — from century-old wooden pilings uncovered during the demolition of the original Transbay Terminal nearby. Originally designed for another era and purpose, its most remarkable feature is the reuse of the building itself. By leveraging its unique assets — a double-story canted opening where trains once passed through, immense floor plates capable of accommodating a breathtaking new atrium, and a fixed shell that focused bold and spectacular moves inwardly – to craft a one-of-a-kind experience for employees and visitors.VOTE HERE