Dolby Cinema at the Dolby Headquarters

Art, technology, and precision drive the Dolby brand through the mediums of light and sound, and these principles informed the design for Dolby’s new flagship screening room, located on San Francisco’s bustling Market Street. The result is a fully immersive experience — from theater seat to workplace campus to neighborhood and city — that reveals Dolby’s unique contribution to storytelling.

As the showcase for its Dolby Cinema™ fleet — a new host for sound and light technology that redefines the theater experience — this new 14,000 square foot screening room and lobby plays host to film festivals, screenings, and corporate partners within Dolby’s new headquarters. It is Dolby’s largest working lab. With the goal of putting a spotlight on Dolby’s technology, every design decision was made in concert with Dolby creatives. The flagship screening room showcases the life-like audio created by Dolby Atmos, as well as the dramatic imaging (incredible brightness, the deepest blacks) made possible by Dolby Vision. Located atop a parking structure and a subway, and just off one of San Francisco’s busiest pedestrian and vehicular streets, the screening room is completely sound- and vibration-proof, accomplished via 5’ thick wall assemblies.

While the immediate focus of the project was on showcasing Dolby’s immersive technology within the screening room, WRNS Studio recognized a great opportunity to mesh brand with urban design, making Dolby’s identity and purpose integral to its new campus, and threading this identity into the neighborhood. At the new screening room, the story begins before you step into the theater. Passersby on Market or 9th Streets, glimpsing an elegant array of light, experience one of those great urban moments of curiosity. The building’s perforated metal skin — apertures of light arranged in a gradient pattern — connect experientially with Dolby’s “object-based” surround sound, precision-based technology which allows for the life-like experience of noises that come from anywhere in the theater. WRNS Studio worked closely with Zahner fabricators to incorporate their research in retained-tab technology, in which incomplete perforations are made, and the remaining piece is adjustable and focusable. Each metal tab (no two are alike) was machined to focus light at a specific angle, making it appear to converge at a single point. This highly coordinated, technical innovation is an artful expression of Dolby’s brand.

As one continues along Market Street, the entrance to the screening room becomes visible through the entry lobby, revealing a large video wall that previews the content within–a signature element of the Dolby Cinema™ design. The result is a more walkable, engaging experience along this stretch of San Francisco’s burgeoning Mid-Market area. Likewise, the screening room is situated such that it can serve as an accessible public / private threshold — a place that Dolby can easily open onto the street for public or semi public events, while maintaining a secure, celebrated space that is for and of Dolby. Within the new workplace campus, employees enjoy a secure, and vibrant gathering space adjacent to the screening room in the enhanced plaza. Like the immersive technology Dolby crafts — audio and visual experiences that propel story — its new flagship screening room embeds innovation in both Dolby’s new workplace campus and within the San Francisco streetscape, contributing to the positive evolution of this neighborhood.

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