OWA Tour of San Francisco Federal Building
by Carolyne Orazi
The overall building was conceived with the concept of sustainability in every step along the way. The building shape and the materials used were selected specifically to utilize natural ventilation, cooling, and lighting. The construction of the building carefully implemented methods for cost-effective construction minimizing waste and energy consumption. The overall cost for the building was $242.00 per square foot. There are four tour stops open to the public within the building: Main Lobby, Conference Center, Elevators, and the Skygarden. The Main Lobby is an interesting cathedral–like space with rectangular light squares jutting out into it. The floor composed of highly polished concrete features a grand central staircase that promotes exercise. The Main Lobby has excellent acoustics. The buildings elevator system is designed stop at every third floor to, once again, promote health and exercise (disabled access is available on each floor). The conference center rooms are located in the basement and exhibit art from Rupert Garcia, Raymond Saunders, Hung Liu, and William T. Wiley. The Skygarden is a three story open space with fantastic views of San Francisco to the north and south side of the building. The Skygarden is equipped with movable table and chairs for employees and visitors to enjoy.
The building does not have a conventional HVAC system. The first five floors are fully air-conditioned however; the upper floors have windows that “automatically adjust to admit fresh air into the building for natural ventilation and cooling. The building is sited to make optimal use of the natural prevailing winds that come from the northwest and pass through a sophisticated window system.”* The use of vertical glass panels deflect sun and direct air flow on the north side of the building. On the south side, the perforated scrim panels provide shade for the building from the sun.
If you missed the tour, the building is open to the public Monday through Friday, between 9:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M. You will only be allowed to visit the aforementioned locations.
*According to the U.S. General Services Administration pamphlet for a self-guided tour.
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