Airbnb San Francisco Campus
Starting in 2013, Airbnb hired WRNS to help expand their existing headquarters, located on the fourth floor of in an historic warehouse building in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood (SOMA). This project led to multiple tenant improvements of 888 Brannan for Airbnb before turning to nearby 42 Decatur, 999 Brannan, and 650 Townsend. Airbnb’s urban campus is the result of an iterative, collaborative process — one in which the people who will inhabit it played a significant role in defining the aesthetic and functionality.
Our original project for Airbnb included a 90,000 square-foot Tenant Improvement, intended to host up to 500 employees. As our scope grew to the entirety of 888 Brannan our design needed thoughtful, scalable, and replicable solutions to accommodate the rapid growth. We worked with Airbnb to develop a “work canvas,” or universal condition and kit of parts to allow anyone across departments (engineers, designers, leadership) to work anywhere. Many of these spaces can open up and grow, by opening the walls or doors.
Each floor is organized into human-scaled neighborhoods threaded by clear circulation and sightlines across the floor with neighborhood ‘listing room’, which emulates a destination found on the Airbnb platform. Ample social spaces, and smaller, usable found spaces (nooks, benches) thread the neighborhoods together and enhance the community vibe. The armature for this organization is the historic warehouse building itself, a testament to multi-function, timelessness, and flexibility.
999 Brannan establishes a second anchor for the Airbnb campus and contrasts with 888 Brannan, which has become the public face and “Gateway” into the company. Fundamental changes to the circulation and material palette of the entire interior of 999 Brannan better reflect Airbnb’s culture of hospitality, design and technical innovation. 999 Brannan is organized around a four-story interior atrium. Descending from the main entrance through a series of stacked ‘listing rooms’, the atrium extends the space vertically and provides visual connection to the entire building. The ground floor houses a large cafeteria that attracts employees from across the campus. A feature stair links to the 2nd floor with overflow breakout space. Color, pattern and materials evoke the experiences of Buenos Aires, Kyoto, Jaipur and Amsterdam.
Originally built by the late architect John Portman in the 1990’s as the San Francisco Fashion Center, the central atrium at 650 Townsend is the single largest gathering place at Airbnb’s San Francisco campus. With a capacity for 2,000 people on the main floor and balconies above, the atrium is a flexible space that will be used for open seating, dining, as well as for group presentation and corporate gatherings by making use of the large screen and stage. Vertical circulation encircles the atrium and forms a screen embedded with elements of visual and acoustical privacy to soften the transition from open space to workplace. A highly technical lighting and daylighting strategy brightens the vast interior space with a calming glow reflective of their culture of hospitality. The humble result cultivates the scrappy ethos apparent in Airbnb’s origin story.