Girls Inc. Simpson Center for Girls

Government Winner

Project: Girls Inc Simpson Center for Girls  | Oakland CA

Firm: Anne Phillips Architecture | Berkeley CA

Design Statement

Girls Inc. is a national non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold. It helps 136,000 girls annually from underserved areas navigate gender, economic and social barriers through a network of affiliates located throughout the United States and Canada. This project created the opportunity for Girls Inc.’s Alameda County chapter to move out of a non-descript suburban warehouse that they had outgrown, and move into a purpose-built facility in a transit-friendly, central location. The new Girls Inc. Simpson Center for Girls is an adaptive re-use / rehabilitation of an existing 5-story, 34,000 square foot historic office building in downtown Oakland, California. The building, originally constructed in 1919, was notable for its historic façade, but earlier renovations made the building appear unwelcoming from the street, and chopped up the interior into a rabbit warren of rooms. The scope of work included a complete interior renovation, extensive façade restoration, a major seismic retrofit, and an overhaul of all systems. A completely renovated interior features vibrant, light-filled and functional environments infused with “youth culture” throughout. Existing interior partitions and dropped ceilings were removed or minimized to restore generous daylight and views that are available throughout the building. A new main entrance provides ground floor transparency, while new signage improves street presence by complementing but not over-powering the historic façade. The new Girls Inc. Simpson Center for Girls contributes to the on-going revitalization of downtown Oakland, preserving a piece of cultural heritage, and adding vitality to its surrounding neighborhood.

The mission of Girls Inc. is to inspire all girls to be Strong, Smart and Bold. In response, the design had to be welcoming, and create vibrant and functional spaces infused with “youth culture” throughout. A mix of broadloom and modular carpets from Shaw Contract Group was specified because it balanced affordability and durability with a generous offering of modern, fun and exciting color and pattern options. Programmatically, spaces with carpeted floors included program and meeting spaces on the first two floors, and primarily open-plan office spaces on the upper floors which open off of elevator lobbies with adjoining small break-out meeting rooms on 2 floors and a waiting room on 1 floor. Modular carpets were deployed in program and meeting spaces (“Hybrid” tile in 3 colors) because these spaces are anticipated to experience more intensive use and traffic, and to mitigate echoes in naturally reverberant tall ground floor spaces. A broadloom carpet in a warm tone (“Text” style, in “Wild Rice” color) was selected as a stain-resistant, neutral and affordable backdrop for the majority of office spaces. This choice, in particular, reserved more of the budget for higher grade selections at more public areas. At the elevator lobbies, carpet tile with bright accents (Hybrid tile with a different selection of Tru Colours tile at each floor) was used to enliven circulation areas and assist in way-finding. A broadloom carpet (“Gradient” style) in a matching accent color was selected for meeting rooms or waiting room visible which is visible beyond.

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