Stylized Headquarters

Savvy & Fun Office for Tech Company in San Francisco, California

by Marcus Dodson, editor & publisher

Recently, Studio BBA, San Francisco, created a humanized headquarters for Checkr SF, a savvy young tech company, whose distinctive tastes and commitment to design values laid the foundation for an excellent project in San Francisco. 

Elegant, ordered architecture and interiors reflect the owners’ style and vision, and temper the orthogonal rigor of the building shell.  Equitability, transparency, and community are fundamental to Checkr and therefore to the design.  The company’s core values and approach to services relies on these attributes, as does their friendly, smart, respectful company culture.  With an entire financial district building under lease, the team implemented a strategic phased approach, gutting and redoing four floors totaling 70,000 sq.ft. over 3-1/2 years. 

Photos courtesy of Bruce Damonte

Studio BBA likened the 360º views to being in the treetops, and the idea that this perspective gives the staff a keen advantage as they work.  An investment in custom acoustic ceiling panels replaced an odious drop ceiling, and the donut-shaped floor plan uses workstation pods to maintain openness while defining the space.  Every floor has a destination break area and intentional programming to encourage Checkr’s teams to circulate freely and often between floors. 

“The understated elegance of the design enhances your experience over time.  There are no bright, in-your-face, visually overwhelming elements to assault the senses,” said Bonnie Bridges, AIA, principal, Studio BBA. 

The original lunchroom is a multi-function space, serving all-hands-on-deck meetings, as well as hosting outside mixers, events, and fireside chats while the final phase was being developed.  Other amenities of the headquarters include a yoga lounge, a library for quiet time, and phone booths for private conversations while treetop viewing. 

Studio BBA also introduced a jazz bar destination space within the headquarters.  Like a forest at night, the bar’s finishes, fixtures, and furnishings are dark and moody, and include a service area with a hand-hammered aged brass island and coffee bar.  The ping pong table was a top criteria for Checkr’s program, to enable the ace players on staff to keep up their game. 

In the final phase for Checkr’s headquarters, Studio BBA created a home for guests, staff, and key public consisting of a Welcome Center and an All The Hands space.  The Welcome Center uses tone-on-tone blue to provide an anchored entry sequence while expanding on the treetop vibe by adding clouds as inspiration.  Checkr’s All The Hands space is hyper-flexible, divisible into three rooms for training, lounging, and dining and expandable into a 300-person gathering space.  Activity-based working techniques were employed and integrated with a diverse set of experiences, space, and places to provide a truly inclusive environment. 

As a nod to its hospitality work, Studio BBA also considered the front of house as important as the back of house spaces, including a thoughtful kitchen prep space with a terrific view.  Particular attention was also spent on the all-gender restroom, with custom accessories built locally by Hume Studio, reinforcing that everyone matters at Checkr.   

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