The Ford Assembly Building was originally designed by Albert Kahn in 1931 as a car factory for Henry Ford. Despite the fact that the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, the survival of this industrial masterpiece was once in doubt, especially following its devastating damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. A quarter-mile long building, commanding a dramatic waterfront with spectacular views of San Francisco, its classic sawtooth roofs with massive north-facing skylights, created the luxuriously ‘daylit’ plant. Today, the SunPower Corporation continues to reap the rewards of the light-filled spaces.
The SunPower Corporation Office Headquarters comprises of two stories with office and light-industrial uses, visually unified by an airy entrance atrium and a floating “stringer-less” folded steel-plate stair. To accommodate the seemingly contradictory objectives of defining different areas while preserving the airy, unconstrained feeling of the historic volume, the floor itself takes on multiple key roles. Besides setting the aesthetic tone of the office, it creates “blocks” defined by the grid of a hierarchy of “streets” and “alleys,” defined by material and finish, which in turn create the boundaries of public use areas, departments with workstations and conference blocks, and the executives’ section. This ‘Office as Village’ scheme produces a circulation plan featuring interior villages, streets and alleyways, as well as formal and informal meeting spaces and cafes - an important part of enhancing teamwork. Hundreds of trees create an ‘Inner Garden’ -- their survival indoors is abetted by natural daylighting, and their psychological benefit is augmented by the sense of improved air-quality. The policy to employ ‘Green and Local’ furniture and fixtures helps utilize recycled, sustainable or locally sourced materials.
A tremendous roof-top solar PV system planned for the building will yield extraordinary energy benefits for, both, SunPower Corporation and its neighbors. In a ground-breaking arrangement between SunPower Corporation and the building owner, a state-of-the-art SunPower Solar System will be positioned atop the sawtooth structure of the historic building. This design of the approximately 1MW system exploits the existing roof’s ideal solar orientation to make the SunPower offices 100% solar powered.