Studio BBA have created a "humanized headquarters" for the tech company Checkr SF headquarters design whose distinctive tastes and commitment to design values laid the foundation for the project.
Elegant and 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 rely on these attributes, as does their friendly, smart, respectful company culture.
With an entire financial district building under lease, the team implemented a strategically phased approach by gutting and redoing four floors, totaling 70,000ft² over 3.5 years.
The 360-degree views liken the experience 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 original lunch room 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 HQ include a yoga lounge, a library for quiet time, with real books and no cell phones, and phone booths for private conversation with ‘treetop’ viewing.
The concept around treetop views and freedom lead to a Charlie “Bird” Parker inspired ‘jazz bar’ destination space. 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 SF HQ, a home from home space was created 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 “birds in the sky” by adding “clouds” as inspiration. The “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 (ABW) techniques were employed and integrated with a diverse set of experiences, space and places to provide a truly inclusive environment.
As a nod to their hospitality work, Studio BBA also considered the front of house spaces were as important as the back of house spaces by including a thoughtful kitchen prep area 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.
Also integral to the aesthetic, the art program throughout was developed as another expression of Checkr’s values and culture; featuring local artists to express their connection to the San Francisco Bay Area, and prison artists to underscore their commitment to authenticity. A portrait by TW FIVE was commissioned and made on site, sparking joy and daily reflection to passersby entering the lunchroom.