A Masterpiece Rises in San Francisco Office

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and the San Francisco office of the Advisory Board Company, a global research, technology and consulting firm, won’t need more than that.

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The Washington, D.C.-based organization’s office in the Bay Area recently underwent a transformation that wows visitors from the moment they step off the elevator and proceed to the reception entrance.

“The tenant improvement we did at the Advisory Board Company includes a break room and cabinetry, but the masterpiece of the project is the elevator lobby and the reception space,” said Matt Simpson, project manager at Commercial Casework, Inc., the architectural millwork company that implemented the design features.

As guests and employees exit the floor’s elevator, they are greeted by a hallway that features a striking contrast of high-end plastic on one side and rift-cut, center-balanced, book-matched Walnut veneer panels, provided by Timber Products Company, on the other.

“It’s a great first impression and the veneer guides them into the reception area where the panels flow into the space,” said Simpson.

The reception lobby features a desk adorned with horizontal Walnut veneer that interlocks with a white Carrara marble accent.

“The design was set on a building block theme so all elements look like they are pieced together,” Simpson said. “The real payoff is the storage wall that sits behind the reception desk (photo left). All the grain matches the materials from the hallway and the desk. A rolling ladder provides access to the upper parts of the wall.  It’s truly a one-of-a-kind project.”

Obtaining roughly 2,000 square feet of the horizontal Walnut veneer with the correct grain pattern was a challenge. After consulting with the architect and contractor, Commercial Casework provided several options that ultimately met the needs of the client.

“It took a considerable amount of time and effort to find what we were looking for,” said Nick Palmer, general manager of Commercial Casework. “We relied on our distributor, Aura Hardwoods, to help, and it came through like it always does. Our contacts understand our deadlines and material requirements so it helps to have a supplier that knows what we need. Timber Products Company has been a huge supporter and often provides our panels ahead of schedule.”

Facing such intricacies in a project is becoming more prevalent in the woodworking industry, according to Palmer. He says that Commercial Casework is seeing a minimal amount of detail information provided in architectural drawings, and it’s often up to them to apply the details and figure out how to make the design work.

“Just because something is drawn doesn’t mean it can be built,” he said. “We’re a 40-year-old company with a reputation for quality, so we can take something on paper and turn it into a finished project. That’s what happened with the Advisory Board work.”

Working with an eight-week timeline, Commercial Casework had only about five weeks for planning, material procurement, fabrication, layout and engineering. The remaining three weeks were reserved for installation.

“The client had a lease and they wanted into the space, so everything was fast-tracked,” said Simpson. “But that’s the way the industry is today. The urgency factor is ramped up for almost everything we do. What compounded the complexity for this project was the intricacy of the Walnut veneer, but our install team is the best in the business and they finished the work on time. Not many craftsmen in the Bay Area could have completed this work. At the end of the day, the client was thrilled.”

Timber Products Company and Aura Hardwoods have collaborated on a number of projects in the Bay Area. To learn more about this project and others, contact your Timber Products Company sales representative.

*This article was originally published on Woodworking Network's "Panel Talk".

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