Top-to-bottom reno of century-old building
gives luxury clothier fresh, residential look
WILKES BASHFORD, SAN FRANCISCO
Photography: Matthew Millman
Size: 23,081 sf on 7 floors
Completion: November 2012
A MODEL OF ADAPTIVE REUSE, the reimagination of this circa-1907 structure turns multipart occupancy types into a contemporary seven-story townhome presenting high-end apparel in domestic comfort. Construction phasing enabled the store to remain open during demolition down to the steel.
To accommodate small floor plates with existing seismic bracing, stock rooms were inserted and enclosed between the braces on each plate. Small vendor shops, some fabricated in Italy, now occupy each floor. To mitigate anticipated problems, designers expressed beams in existing low ceilings and cladded them as architectural features.
Other notable changes include raising the entry-level ceiling, relocating the dominant elevator, and installing a new dramatic grand foyer-style staircase linking the first two floors. The staircase is a focal point with its wrought-iron balustrade. Framed photos of the Wilkes Bashford story dot the ascending wall to create a
family portrait aesthetic. On a raised platform at the base of the staircase, mannequins pose as if on a balcony.
Surprising elements of the renovation include city views that were once shuttered, enhancing intentional residential traits. A newly exposed brick wall serves as a focus of the men’s shoe boutique. Besides the use of dappled lighting for a theatrical effect throughout, the second floor’s indoor garden concept, which incorporates the women’s shoe boutique, brings the outside in by integrating daylighting. The light, which appears as if radiating through trees, is cloaked by translucent drapery. Zinc paneling, supple sofas and floral textiles and art are emphasized in this area.
Bringing the vision to fruition meant not only respecting the existing structure’s iconic place in San Francisco culture, but also grasping that its success would hinge on how the facelift would resonate with the public.
The design lures customers with a homey interior culminating in a seventh floor penthouse, two bars and a fireplace to encourage lingering. In a nod to the origin of the fashionable apparel, materials here epitomize Italy: marble, Venetian plaster, mosaic and limestone.
Local relevance is inherent in salvaged eucalyptus wood from the Presidio used as decorative detailing as well as furnishings from the portfolio of the late West Coast designer Michael Taylor. In homage to the namesake, custom wall coverings showcase Wilkes Bashford via historical city newspaper clippings.
— Susan Friedman