The Uber Mission Bay campus was designed to be a vertical microcity, with its four architecturally unique buildings acting as separate boroughs. The two buildings in our scope, MB1, and MB2 are owned by Uber, with MB2 bearing the company address. Our goal for the design of these buildings was to honor Uber’s vision of a smart city, one that is connected, easily navigable, technology-enabled, and energy-efficient, with integrated green spaces that offer a diverse citizenry reprieve from density.
The concept of a Crafted Journey stems from the building designed by SHoP architects, where a full-height open-aired solarium defined the main façade for each building. The floors within the solarium cascade from floor to floor, and engage the office area at unique entry points. This presented 17 different floor plates across the two buildings. Our approach took inspiration from the lines of piers along the Embarcadero, a civic promenade that threads the city and bay together. As you walk the Embarcadero, each engagement point with the city offers its own opportunity for adventure, and one would not know what awaits unless they slowed or stopped to investigate. It’s these urban discoverable moments that are so unique to these building interiors, and the reason for us to begin our design process by focusing on the journey.
To assist with navigating such a large campus, we applied urban design methodology, focusing on the journey of the individual before getting into the particulars of the spaces. This allowed the connection points to stand out clearly, which enabled us to be more thoughtful about travel and wayfinding. For instance, subtle curvatures in the walls leading to the event spaces help to draw people toward the entrances. The typical floors are also laid out the same way to make them easier to navigate, while well-positioned signage guides the journey to destination points throughout the campus.
The adventure for many begins at MB2, where the main entry and reception are located. Functionally, it is a lobby, but it feels like a museum. What awaits you when you enter is an immersive digital experience curated through the lens of the Uber brand designed by HUSH. A series of conduits that run from the main feature wall behind the reception desk, up to the ceiling, and along the length of the space, is spectacularly illuminated by a kinetic digital display that mesmerizes passersby and draws guests in. A 40-foot reception desk anchors the space where visitors are welcomed and directed into the main building.
Once entering MB2, there are multiple amenities and ways to begin your journey. There is a café to grab a coffee before heading up to your desk, a gathering nook to catch up with colleagues, and a communal seating area by the windows to people-watch or wait for friends.
Within each borough of the campus are destination functions that offer unique experiences. Destinations such as a coffee shop, an outdoor terrace, a large café, and a double-height light-filled theater are judiciously spread across the boroughs to create amenity equity through the microcity. There are also places to be discovered that accommodate different moods: a quiet nook in a library to concentrate, a spot close to public art to get inspired, a cozy corner of a café to have some lunch, or a favorite verdant space to center and reset. The solariums also provide opportunities for respite, each offering a variation of the environment above or below. Wherever you choose to settle down, seamless integration of tech throughout the building permits you to remain connected and productive.
Amidst the destination points and hideaway, spaces are the open office areas with workstations, meeting rooms, and informal collaboration zones, which are configured into neighborhoods where teams reside. These neighborhoods are easily identified by a front porch – a welcome area for team personalization, bulletin board for current social events, and introduction to neighbors. Team rooms with modular furniture are also customizable to support the distinct needs of each user group.
The entire design facilitates choice of place, inviting employees to make the workplace their own, much like residents of a city gravitate to the neighborhoods and places that best express who they are. In this way, the campus microcity delivers what any large city does, a diverse landscape that accommodates individual preference.
Citywide, there are iconic destinations to be found throughout each borough. These are the places that everyone knows how to find without having to clarify which building or floor. In MB2 there are two large gathering spaces that will attract people from every other neighborhood. On the first floor, there is the event space, which is the first thing you see upon entering the building from the lobby. The sculptural architecture of the perforated back-lit metal screen draws people around its curved edge toward the access points, also leading to a multi-use pre-function area. The room is designed for flexibility with an accordion wall partition that mechanically lifts, folding its long horizontal panels up until they disappear into the ceiling.
The Forum on the 6th floor is an event space on a grander scale. The two-story auditorium is encased in glass, allowing views into the space from the adjoining terrace and roof deck, and from floors 8 and higher in MB1 across the bridge.. The furniture is easy to rearrange or remove to suit various types of events and festivities, be they presentations, training, or product launches. Outside, a spacious pre-function area welcomes attendees, offering ample room for people to connect and talk. The main corridor from the elevator and restroom bank curves invitingly toward the Forum and pre-event space, simplifying wayfinding. The long counter and custom island for food and beverage service allow for easy maneuverability in a crowd.
From the beginning, Uber wanted a space for their workers to feel welcomed, comfortable, inspired, and healthy. Wellness was a major driver in our design for everyone to enjoy the benefits of access to natural light. Expansive views of the city and the Bay offer openness and transparency for each neighborhood, satisfying the desires of the employees to connect back to the exterior environment.
- Terry Kwik
- Hakee Chang
- Karen C. Letteney
- Jenna Szczech
- Owen Huang
- Britni Williams
- Darren Barboza
- Janet Braden
- Sal Wikke
- Oscar E. Catarino
- Felice Rosario Arrigotti
- Gloria N. Rasmussen
- Annette Litle
- Jin Park
- Josh Carrell
- Maurice Farinas
- Jonathan Chow
- Yinong Liu
Truebeck, General Contractor
AlfaTech, Technology Design Consultant
Salter, Acoustic Engineer
Atelier Ten, LEED & WELL consultant
ACCO, MEP design-build for the radiant ceilings
Thornton Tomasetti, Structural Engineers
TWO, Furniture Dealer
HUSH, Digital Experience Design
Yellow Goat, Specialty Installation
Jason O’Rear, Photography
Eric Laignel, Photography