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Commonwealth Club of California

An adaptive reuse lends new life to a San Francisco institution’s headquarters while preserving its historic façade.

  • Integrated Value

    Strategic engineering made use of the existing structural foundation by minimizing new building loads.

We harness our advanced analytics’ capabilities to predict structural behavior and gain key insights to develop optimized, data-driven design solutions—creating real value for clients and building owners.

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We’re hyper-focused on providing useful insights early in the design process to better inform key decisions, control cost, and minimize disruptive surprises. By internalizing project-level goals, we’re better able to help achieve them.

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As industry leaders, we collaborate and innovate to create low-embodied energy, sustainable design solutions that are efficient, cost-effective, and seek to reduce carbon output to minimize construction’s environmental impact.

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We combine innovative design and a collaborative and responsive workflow to deliver tailored, effective, and unexpected seismic design solutions that help protect our clients’ high value investments and facilitate post-earthquake operations.

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Instead of textbook solutions and conventional approaches, we ask deeper questions to unlock possibilities. Through ingenuity and a thoughtful application of engineering first-principles, we develop more responsive and efficient structural designs.

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The Commonwealth Club, well respected as a center for public discourse and debate, needed a new headquarters—the adaptive reuse of the club’s existing building accommodates an auditorium with 299 seats; a 135–person multipurpose room; a library lounge; prefunction reception space; roof garden; and publicly accessible roof terrace.

Adaptive reuse of a San Francisco institution

The plan for adaptive reuse included new steel framing at the second floor to replace the original wood floor; and the addition of a new steel-framed third floor and roof deck to the existing structure. Strategic engineering made use of the existing structural foundation by minimizing new building loads, while preserving the historic Steuart Street façade.

Structural work also included a comprehensive seismic upgrade in accordance with current code, a prominent entry canopy integrated with the new glass curtain wall, and an architecturally exposed steel stair connecting the main lobby on the first floor to the second floor.

  • Location

    San Francisco, CA

  • Square Footage

    26,000 sf

  • Cost

    $15.7 million

  • Completion Date


  • Owner

    Commonwealth Club of California

  • Architect

    LMS Architects

  • Contractor

    Oliver & Company

  • Photography

    Bruce Damonte

Historic facade along Steuart Street

New facade along The Embarcadero