office interior building
Courtesy Patricia Chang

Arcsine Designs Brightmark Headquarters to Support its Green Mission

The Oakland-based architecture and interior design firm specified the materials from other innovative, sustainability-minded brands and manufacturers.

It’s not surprising that Brightmark, an engineering group at the forefront of renewable energy development, prioritized sustainability when it came time to design its new San Francisco headquarters. Company leadership worked with the Oakland-based architecture and interior design firm Arcsine to transform the daylight-flooded third floor of an early twentieth-century historic mill building in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood. “It was such a great canvas for what we were trying to do,” says Elizabeth Dillon, director of interiors at Arcsine.

In addition to specifying low-emitting and repurposed materials, Brightmark wanted hospitality elements incorporated into the 14,000-square-foot space. Now its team can develop programs to transform organic waste into energy sources and devise new methods of plastic recycling from an inviting workplace that melds the best of adaptive reuse and environmentally responsible interior design practices. Below, Dillon shares the most notable sustainable design features and practices of the project.

Interior view of an open plan office with various workstations
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Interior view of an offices lounge seating with a wood and biophilic wall
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Source Smart

Dillion and team researched materials and surfaces that, much like Brightmark’s work in regenerative energy and plastic recycling, are a result of innovative engineering and manufacturing. In the break room kitchen, for instance, she points to the FSC-certified PaperStone countertops made from post-consumer recycled paper and cardboard, which have a matte finish that complements the earthy decor scheme. Chairs in the lounge area are from Masaya & Co., a brand that both follows sustainable forestry practices and undertakes extensive replanting initiatives. For upholstered surfaces, Dillion’s selections include Camira textiles made from recycled ocean plastics and Maharam offerings containing 76 percent post-consumer recycled polyester.

Interior view of an office's kitchen area featuring a large island with people gathered around it
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Be Friends with B Corps

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To maintain a holistic approach to best sustainability practices, Arcsine sourced from certified B Corporations where possible. Bay Area–based Fireclay Tile is an industry leader in responsible tile manufacturing, and its hand-painted Aerial pattern ceramic tiles made using over 50 percent recycled content emblazon the Brightmark kitchen/break room island front. (Arcsine also recently completed the brand’s Berkeley showroom.) Products by Carnegie Fabrics, another B Corp, are used on select upholstered pieces.

Interior of an offices conference room with a large, live-edge table
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Recycle, Reclaim, Repurpose

Brightmark requested over 100 sit-stand desks for its employees to have more choice and flexibility with their workstations and environment. Arcsine custom-designed these furnishings using recycled fir repurposed from construction sites, old mills and whiskey distilling facilities. Wooden accents in the lounge walls and the reception desk are also reclaimed and live-edge conference tables are built using MAS Certified Green woods.

Interior view of an office with a seating area, green wall, and concrete staircase
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Work With What You Got

“We wanted to keep as much in place as possible,” Dillon says about the century-plus-old historic building, noting that only one wall was moved to enlarge a conference room. Concrete floors were polished for a new sheen and exposed brick walls were compatible with the look they wanted. The bulk of the existing layout of the open space was usable, but the designers added some differentiated spaces, such as a reception area and “better work zones” while using a minimal amount of additional building products. 

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