homepage home
subscribe to California Construction magazine subscribe
newsletters free e-newsletter
industry jobs industry jobs
Dodge Data & Analytics
California Construction Logo
Order Your RISK FREE Subscription

Bechtel Conference Center at Public Policy Institute of California

Text size: A A

Best Interior Design Project

Photo courtesy of Marcy Wong Donn Logan
The PPIC is located in San Francisco.
Photo courtesy of Marcy Wong Donn Logan
The PPIC is located in San Francisco.
----- Advertising -----

When a gift from the Stephen Bechtel Fund allowed a partial facilities overhaul at the Public Policy Institute of California, the challenge was to fit a large conference center into a relatively small infill space and configure it around a grid of imposing structural columns and a jungle of existing mechanical infrastructure.

The center's dominant feature is a central, circular ceremonial forum for speaking events. The center also includes a less formal meeting salon as well as a green room, servery and storage space.

The center's circular plan made the acoustics challenging, according to architect/project submitter Marcy Wong Donn Logan, a Berkeley-based firm.

The center's interior is outfitted with a series of sculpted plywood fins that vary in profile and spacing. Space between the fins is lined with an acoustical substrate that alternates from absorbent to reflective as directed by the project's acoustic engineers. The variations produced a surface that is sufficiently uneven to distribute the sound as needed by the room's world-class AV equipment.

This solution, which represented a collaboration between the architect and the acoustical engineer, was fabricated with CNC technology by Lignum Vitae cabinetmakers and woodworkers in Oakland, and then installed with a custom-made stringer system by cabinetmaker and master craftsman Ross Craig, also of Oakland. The resulting space is architecturally unique and the acoustics are superb, says the architect.

Another challenge for the team was achieving LEED-Gold certification for the project in an infill site that prevented major alterations to the existing building.

The project's designers focused their sustainability efforts on materials and hardware selection. Credits were received for the use of recycled redwood paneling salvaged from renovations elsewhere in the building as well as for the specification of low-VOC paints and carpeting. Energy efficiency is achieved through the use of state-of-the-art HVAC and control systems, including high-efficiency lighting and Energy Star-rated equipment.

Key Players

Owner: Public Policy Institute of California, San Francisco

General Contractor/Construction Management: NOVO Construction, San Francisco

Architect: Marcy Wong Donn Logan, Berkeley

MEP Engineer: Amit Wadhwa & Associates, San Francisco

Submitted by:

Marcy Wong Donn Logan


----- Advertising -----
New Blog: Vertically Speaking in Northern California
New Blog: Field Notes
Reader Photos
Photos from California Construction Photo Showcase
Dodge Lead Center
Search for local construction projects OR CALL 877-234-4246 and get a FREE Lead Now!
Search by Project Type & State

----- Advertising -----
 Reader Comments:

Sign in to Comment

To write a comment about this story, please sign in. If this is your first time commenting on this site, you will be required to fill out a brief registration form. Your public username will be the beginning of the email address that you enter into the form (everything before the @ symbol). Other than that, none of the information that you enter will be publically displayed.

We welcome comments from all points of view. Off-topic or abusive comments, however, will be removed at the editors’ discretion.