Design Firms: Jonas Kellner, Gensler, MK Think, INTERSTICE Architects, Office, BCCI Construction Company, and BBDO San Francisco
From the moment one steps inside 826 Valencia, the San Francisco nonprofit with a new, 5,000 sq. ft. mixed-use writing and learning center in the Tenderloin district, the imagination runs wild for both children and adults alike. Founded by author Dave Eggers and educator Ninive Calegari, the space offers a playful retail store geared towards kids, a writing lab and staff offices. Designed for everyone – the space is inclusive, comfortable, and fun for parents, kids, staff and community members– it will capture the heart of a child, appeal to adults, and act as a safe haven for the neighborhood.
Serving as a place of whimsy before entering the workshop, the retail store, “King Carl’s Emporium,” is named after 826’s San Francisco Mission location’s pet pufferfish, Carl. The emporium, conveniently located in the “Headquarters for Navigators and Explorers,” will sell analog wares collected by the fish on its world travels in addition to books of writing by 826 Valencia’s student authors. The store offers quirky and eclectic design elements including a “fog bank,” and a wall of doors.
With the goal of supporting the creative writing skills of under-resourced students from ages six to 18, the space includes interactive elements that allow kids to make their mark as “explorers” in the store. In the Emporium, nautical motifs, such as rope shelving, rope lights, welded ship panels, reclaimed wood planks, and a ship’s cabin ladder for display of small retail items adorn the space. The playful theme extends from the retail store through the administrative spaces, creating a sense of “wonder everywhere” throughout the space. Meanwhile, the writing lab space will consist of quiet, focused spaces for kids and community events, including writing workshops for kids to build their confidence, giving them an outlet and forum for creativity. Providing a home for staff and volunteers, the writing lab area also includes small breakout spaces for staff meetings.
Opened in May 2016, with its theme of exploration, the new 826 Valencia Tenderloin space is warm, welcoming and comfortable; it puts kids at ease and connects diverse communities.VOTE HERE