Project Highlight: San Francisco GSA Building

The San Francisco Federal Building was designed by Thom Mayne, principal of Santa Monica-based Morphosis and assisted by The Smith Group in San Francisco. Located on Mission and Seventh Streets in the South of Market neighborhood, the SF Federal Building is LEED certified.

The 18-story facility is long and lean with almost all offices receiving natural sunlight. As well as reducing power needs for lighting, the building is naturally ventilated, further decreasing cooling and heating costs. The elevators operate on a skip-stop method of opening only every third floor. Stairs or disability accessible elevators are utilized to reach the other floors.

“This is another example of outstanding architecture in terms of integrated engineering, energy efficiency and delivering high-quality workspace,” said the General Services Administration Public Buildings Service Commissioner David Winstead.

Tyler Rynberg, Thorburn Associates’ Senior Acoustical Consultant for the project remarked, “The greatest acoustical challenge lies with the concrete wave slab in the ceilings. The ceiling is the most important element in achieving a reasonable level of speech privacy in a typical open plan office environment.”

The concrete slab is formed in a wave pattern, curved to better diffuse the indirect lighting. Because of the requirements for a naturally ventilated building, no material could be applied to the concrete slab and a continuous acoustic tile ceiling cannot be suspended below the slab.

“In order to control acoustics, we worked with the designing of the wave slab so that the radius of the curve would not contribute to the focus of sound,” states Rynberg. “The second part of improving speech privacy was in developing a sound masking system integral to the lighting.”

Further acoustical treatments are evident in the use of perforated wood panels that help control the build up of noise in the 3-story lobbies, cafeteria and day care center.

To see pictures—click here.