Year: 2023

South San Francisco, California

Cytokinetics Headquarters and R&D Facility


Matthew Anderson

Inspired by the concept of movement, this 235,000 SF project serves as the new, seven-story headquarters for a late-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing small molecule drug candidates for the potential treatment of debilitating diseases characterized by compromised muscle function. Since their work revolves around aiding muscle function and supporting movement, the design parti focused on elements that encourage motion throughout their Oyster Point facility – a daylit central stair, curving walls, circular lighting, and a continuously winding ceiling connecting labs and office spaces. Custom signage, parametrically-designed furniture made with genuine materials, and a nature-based color palette further enhance the movement concept and complement the facility’s views of the bay from its South San Francisco location.

To create the shape and floor plan layout, we studied typical movement patterns through the spaces. Natural flow along the corridors is reflected by the sinuous curving of continuous cove lighting that winds through the entire core and bends at key programmatic elements such as the main elevator lobby and amenity spaces. To encourage vertical movement, a daylit, glass-railed central stair provides opportunities for interaction at amenity spaces clustered nearby on each level. Although uncommonly expressed inside lab spaces, we continued the concept by including curved ceilings mirrored in the flooring pathways and large “science on display” viewing windows that create visual connectivity to the foundational research conducted within.

Continuing the theme, we selected interior finishes and natural materials for their purity and ability to curve. We used parametric design tools from snapshots of movement to create the reception desk, bench, tables, and custom recycled PET acoustical ceiling baffle forms. Acoustical wood slat walls in the two-story lobby and adjacent auditorium space are attached to a thin metal backer to more easily bend around the ceiling curves. Thin segmented ceramic tile was an ideal material given its ability to curve around radiused walls. We selected bamboo paneling for its acoustical properties and custom designed with perforations to bend around millwork. Rounded and radius corner lighting throughout the building further enhances the parti.

With the theme of movement, the facility is elevated by lively, client-commissioned artwork and sculptures throughout.

Sustainable Design Strategies

Targeting LEED Gold certification and Title 24 compliance, we incorporated many sustainable design measures. Going beyond code requirements for the core and shell buildout, all urinals throughout the complex are waterless, toilets are High Efficiency Eco Power, and bioretention/bioswales are part of the landscape design. Interior layouts maximize access to natural daylight, keeping private offices off the exterior glazing and allowing equitable access to daylight for those in workstations. Operable blinds in office and lab spaces allow users to customize their access to natural daylight and adjust based on work task needs and comfort.

The interiors feature environmentally preferable materials such as locally harvested, sustainably grown, made from rapidly renewable materials, biodegradable, free of toxins, and low-VOC. We selected rapidly renewable bamboo for the acoustical wall treatments, millwork, furniture, and flooring and FSC-certified western hemlock wood for slatted ceilings, millwork, acoustical wall slats, stair treads, risers, and handrails. The baffled contour ceilings, acoustical wall panels, and some furniture is zero waste / recycled / PET, and locally-sourced wall tiling makes up the breakroom backsplashes and restroom wall / flooring tiles. For the included multi-story parking garage, we incorporated solar panels with space allocated and provisions instated to add panels in the future. We also allocated battery storage space for a future tenant addition at the rooftop. The facility promotes the overall wellbeing of employees, welcomes them in, and “warms” the space with plants and greenery throughout.

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