Gusto, San Francisco

Designed by: Gensler
For client: Gusto Floor area: 5110.00 M² Year of completion: 2017
Submitted for: Large Office of the Year


Public Score
6.56
6.57 Function
6.50 Innovation
6.61 Creativity
Gusto 09
© Rafael Gamo

Gusties are all about sharing stories over company-provided breakfast and lunch.

About the Project

Once a machine shop for military destroyers and submarines, the former Union Ironworks Machine Shop Building, opened in 1883, was reborn as a larger-than-life living room where Gusties and their guests go shoeless for an unprecedented workplace experience. As a mission-driven company, Gusto serves their clients by providing a payroll and HR platform for more than 60,000 businesses. Their goal is to provide ways for small and medium-sized businesses to make HR more personal and community-oriented. By building them a unique and highly-tailored work environment, our team hoped to support their growth and innovative ideas.

By exploring topological analogs—cathedrals, warehouses, and similar spaces—the design team was able to evaluate which programmatic uses were best suited to Gusto’s way of working. Ultimately, inspiration was found in the living room-like waiting area of an historic train station revitalization project, and the team looked at ways of translating this furniture and architectural relationship to the building conditions at Pier 70. Occupying the central atrium and spreading under and over the mezzanine, the Living Room frames the main view corridor from the public lobby and becomes the space where people come together to work. In the open workplace neighborhoods flanking the Living Room, acoustics are mitigated with perforated corrugated metal panels. A variety of spaces, open and enclosed, are offered for individual choice of how and where people want to work.

What’s unique about it

To make sure the design aligned with the needs and expectations of the people who would inhabit it, Gusto and the design team worked together to invite extensive employee input, and later to offer VR tours of the space as a change management tool. The ongoing program of communication and exploration built excitement among employees about the changes coming to their work style.

The early workshops resulted in a number of elements which are unique to this workplace, including a wall of cubbies at reception to store shoes—Gusto's original office was in its founder's home, where he asked visitors to remove their shoes, and that custom has become part of the company culture. The importance of individuals and the daily lives of their clients is reflected in the names of Gusto's conference rooms, which include "Bait and Tackle Shop," and "The Gelateria" to showcase the kinds of businesses that use their service.

As is as CEO Josh Reeves summed it up, “Everyone at Gusto is here because they want to help the customer, and while we’re doing that, we want to make sure our space is somewhere we feel proud and excited to spend a lot of time. Because of our collaborative culture, it was natural for us to include everyone and incorporate their desires and feedback, and perhaps unsurprisingly, we’ve created a home-like environment together.”

Gusto 10
© Rafael Gamo

Inserting a perimeter mezzanine created additional workspace without impacting daylighting or the incomparable sightlines and sense of openness.

Gusto 08
© Rafael Gamo
Gusto 07
© Rafael Gamo

Gusto was founded in a home in Palo Alto, CA, where the co-founders grew up in shoeless homes. They discovered everyone being shoeless is a great equalizer.

Gusto 06
© Rafael Gamo

In the open workplace neighborhoods flanking the Living Room, acoustics are mitigated with perforated corrugated metal panels. Glass walls on two sides of every meeting room support the port’s desire to keep views to the exterior facade in prominent focus

Gusto 05
© Rafael Gamo

Showcasing the building's raw structure, as well as retaining its massive original crane, serves to recall the human experience and years of personal history here.

Gusto 04
© Rafael Gamo
Gusto 03
© Rafael Gamo
Gusto 02
© Rafael Gamo

A variety of spaces, open and enclosed, are offered for individual choice of how and where people want to work. This accommodates individual attention spans, from high level focus to welcome distractions and energetic collaboration.

Gusto 01
© Rafael Gamo

Occupying the central atrium and spreading under and over the mezzanine, the Living Room frames the main view corridor from the public lobby and becomes the space where people come together to work.

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