Atrium "Wings", San Francisco

Pat Buchanan, the owner’s representative for DivcoWest, requested our proposal for a new, softer look in the lobby of a residential condominium building located at 333 Bush St. in San Francisco, CA. An existing chrome cubic sculpture suspended in the air space provided little contrast to the neighborhood’s steel and glass facades. To help soften the space both visually and acoustically, we proposed lightweight tension fabric wings to create drama and an airy atmosphere. To stay on budget, ready-made Diamonds, Dancing Stars, Sentries, and an Airplane were incorporated into the design.

California building codes are the toughest in the country, especially in San Francisco, where the community’s memory of the 1906 earthquake and the resulting fire that burnt the city is still vivid. Proposing a fabric installation in a residential building definitely got the San Francisco Fire Marshal’s attention! While the fabrics that Transformit use are inherently fire proof, the certifications and test results were not enough to satisfy the inspectors. They requested a 3D computer model of the building with our wings in place. Our design department was happy to provide this service. The model was used in the Fire Department's smoke simulator program to ensure our pieces would not interfere with the airflow or the sprinkler system in case of a fire.

After much back-and-forth, the wings were finally classified as “art”, and were therefore not subjected to the same rules as a building material that is actually a part of the building. The installation was given the thumbs up by the State of California, and now exists to enliven the space and the lighten the moods of its tenants. Art wins again!

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