New Year, Big Changes

By Douglas Tom / January 09, 2014
2013 was full of big changes for the firm, and 2014 is shaping up to be another exciting year. For starters, we have a new name:  TEF. As most of you know, our partnership is evolving and we decided it was time to shake things up a little with a moniker that reflects our development while building on the values and identity we’ve been growing since 1997.

We also have a new home. It took us a little while to find it. First we hunted in South of Market, then mid-Market, but prices kept rocketing. Finally, our broker found just the right thing for us before it even hit the market:  a two-story 1950s building, one block off Van Ness Avenue at 1420 Sutter Street.

For a long time, it housed a Japanese furniture boutique with a showroom on the first floor and a refinishing workshop and storage upstairs.  One of our first decisions was to expose the wood ceiling, so we put in a new roof with rigid insulation. Our contractor, CCI, did a phenomenal job—they started in mid-September, and we moved in mid-December.

The new building gives us a lot more elbow room than our old place on Post Street. We put our library and workroom on part of the first floor and replaced two roll-down doors at the rear of the building with storefront glass to flood the space with daylight. The second floor is our main office: we took down internal walls, removed the freight elevator, and added lots more clear glass. The kitchen is bigger than our old one, with enough room for a farm table so staff can eat together instead of having lunch at their desks. Another bonus: five-off-street parking spaces in the back alley. We plan to get a grill so in nice weather we can barbecue out there.

Meanwhile, we’re excited about the projects we’ll be working on and inspired by this year. Two we were awarded at the end of 2013—one to reimagine public spaces at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in the TenderNob, the other will be our eleventh project along the waterfront. The next phases of our expansion of the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford University are under construction, as is the new Don Fisher Clubhouse on Fulton Street for the Boys & Girls Club San Francisco, and the Bay Area Headquarters Authority’s office building at 390 Main Street. Also underway is our master plan for the relocation and expansion of the city’s Department of Building Inspection, more renovations at Stanford’s Hoover Pavilion, and construction of its new neighbor, the five-story Hoover Medical Office Building.

We’ve got a few more changes in store for 2014, so stay tuned.  And the more we get familiar with our new neighborhood, the happier we are to be here. It turns out a number of other design firms have started moving into this area, so there’s a nice synergy going on. And once the new CPMC is completed, we think this area will be hoppin’.  Time will tell. See you on Sutter Street!