Girls Garage Goes Under Construction at Square’s New Oakland Headquarters

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© Belle Carroll

Our San Francisco office is a proud sponsor and partner of the nonprofit, Girls Garage. The first of its kind in the US, Girls Garage, teaches over 200 girls’ technical skills in architecture, engineering, carpentry, welding, and art through real-world community-based projects. The program exposes a whole new generation of girls to expand their career horizons, intending to boost confidence. Read more about the program in our previous post.

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© Belle Carroll

As part of our partnership, a group of women from our office toured a group of high school girls from Girls Garage through Square’s new office in downtown Oakland. Architects and designers Lena Shah, Sandy Lam, Hélène Gregoire, and Belle Carroll led the visit during the punch list phase of construction. This tour was the first time many of the girls visited a construction site and was a great opportunity to peer behind the scenes of the building process.

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© Belle Carroll

Once everyone geared up with safety protection, the group of students and architects joined up with Sarah Garcia of NOVO Construction. The design team then gave an overview presentation on the project, to describe their respective roles, and went over what’s entailed in a large-scale construction project. They spoke of the building’s historical importance (as the former Sears building) and highlighted the importance of designing within the local context. The girls, while exploring the site, started to notice local landmarks, parks, street names, and neighborhoods represented in the wayfinding scheme throughout the building.

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© Belle Carroll

As part of this discussion, the girls asked about how the design process was rendered and how ideas were communicated. The architects described digital rendering tools such as Revit and AutoCAD and the vital skill of learning how to draw by hand. Lena explained the process of taking a project through its various design phases from conceptual design through completion from a management standpoint.

Sandy showed the group the QR 360 renderings that were set up to communicate with the client capturing the intended final feel of the project. Hélène spoke to finishing a space through details and balancing the constraints of an expedited timeline with an ambitious design. The girls were very impressed by the dynamic color palette!

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© Belle Carroll

The tour included a walkthrough of the entire project, including taking in views of the city, testing out newly installed furniture, and asking plenty of questions! On the top deck, the group posed for a picture with the iconic “Uptown Station” billboard. The best part, however, for the women from our office was the opportunity to share our profession with young women and inspire them to pursue careers in the design, engineering, and construction.

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© Belle Carroll

We can’t wait to provide this opportunity in the future to another group of potential architects.

Designing buildings that inspire connection and wonder in every person who experiences them.

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