From almost any angle the visual impact of Cisco’s San Francisco offices is of light, spaciousness, bright color, long sightlines. Cisco recently acquired Meraki, which makes wireless routers—and takes pride in the elegance of their design. O+A sought to build the space the way Cisco-Meraki builds its products—with an emphasis on simplicity and seamless ease of use. But it was also mindful of the importance to the company’s identity of the merger. Located in the rapidly changing Mission Bay neighborhood, Cisco’s 110,000 square foot suite of offices now becomes Cisco’s principal San Francisco location.
At the outset O+A surveyed Meraki’s employees to find out what they liked about their old, much smaller headquarters. A consensus emerged for natural light, plenty of collaboration space and preservation of the company’s tightly-knit culture. The size of the new space and the prominence of its floor-to-ceiling windows made collaboration and natural light relatively easy bills to fill. O+A’s design offers a variety of meeting spaces formal and informal, indoor and outdoor, many of them bathed in the crystalline light of San Francisco Bay. The scale and the light support both a rich palette of colors and design elements tailored to the broad canvas.
Maintaining Meraki’s cozy ambience in the hangar-sized complex proved more challenging. O+A’s solution was to create a medley of small gathering spaces within the larger footprint. Sunken seating brings intimacy to horizontal common areas while preserving broad sightlines. Yurts, cabanas and phone rooms offer varying levels of enclosure. And throughout the office informal lounge spaces allow passing colleagues to sit down and talk. Despite the wide array of typologies, however, this is not a project that feels overly “designed.” One of O+A’s goals was to give Cisco’s proudly do-it-yourself workforce room to express itself.