Look!: Chronicle Books' New Digs

Look!: Chronicle Books' New Digs

Jul 3, 2007

San Francisco's most venerable spinoff, Chronicle Books, turned 40 this year. The publishing house celebrated by moving into a solar-powered and dramatically renovated space near PacBell Park.

We recently went on a tour of the spanking new digs with editor Jodi Warshaw (Midwife to AT's forthcoming house tour book), and here's what we saw:

As befits a publishing house known for the visual design of its books, walking the new space feels a bit like a flip through the pages of a well-executed coffee table book, one with dozens of luscious full-bleed photos. The space is all about light and transparency, employing sound-baffling but translucent or light-emitting partitions around offices and meeting rooms, and leaving much of the square footage unenclosed to encourage creativity and spontaneous collaboration.

A push-the-envelope design outlook is evident everywhere you look, from the exposed I-beams to the lizard-skin patterned tile on the bathroom floor to the giant pendant lamp that overhangs the main reading table. We noted Molo's cardboard seating in the lobby (seen at ICFF but never in real life) and ogled the solar panel-topped roof from below.

That's right: the creativity of this brain trust of 180 editors, designers, production and administrative staffers is harnessed using solar energy.

To date, half the planned-for panels have been installed and the building is not only producing its own power, but it's downloading extra power into the City's grid. During daylight hours when the lights and ventilation system are off, power is channeled back into the grid and a beautiful thing happens: the Chronicle's power meter runs backwards.

The project was led by architect Paul Loeffler of Mark Cavagnero Associates and by Chronicle Books's Creative Director, Michael Carabetta. And it is tended by facilities manager Isaac Sherrer, who graciously answered our questions for this post.

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